Customer Review

250 of 278 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best AA battery field use point-and-shoot available anywhere., October 2, 2011
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX150 IS 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide-Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3.0-Inch LCD (Red) (Camera)
The new Canon SX 150 camera should probably be subtitled, "Possibly The Best All-Around, Point-And-Shoot, Off-Road-Adventure Camera - Affordable - for the Average Person Today."

I recently bought this camera, the SX 150 HS, and I also have owned/used the earlier models in this same line for several years now - the SX 110, SX 120, and SX 130 - so I have several years experience with it, all of it very positive. Yes, it runs on AA batteries, but that is the GOOD NEWS! If you don't like that, then buy one of the 100 other cameras available that don't use them. Use some form of proprietary lithium-ion battery instead which will set you back $25 to $75 apiece for each spare battery, and it will not even last two functioning years. You will also need several of those batteries for any extended trip, and when you buy your next camera they won't fit it, so you can then just throw away that extra $100 to $200 in useless, expensive, non-interchangeable batteries.

Now if you are an average person who doesn't HAVE an extra $100 to $200 to throw away every couple of years on proprietary batteries that only fit one camera, then please read on.

This is the LAST REMAINING, top quality, 2-AA battery, point-and-shoot camera left on the market, people. There are some very good economical reasons to PREFER that choice. Anywhere you travel, you can ALWAYS buy - or borrow - AA batteries to keep it going. The AA batteries are about as universal an item as exists on the planet, so you can still keep shooting this camera almost anywhere you go. But you absolutely should use rechargeable AAs whenever you can to save money - a LOT of money. And they last much longer on each charge. I get about 350 large JPEG photos per charged set, and since I sometimes shoot a lot of photos in one place, I always carry at least two pairs of backup batteries to swap out.

UPDATE EDIT: In Dec. 2011, I bought my first few sets of Sanyo eneloop AA rechargeable batteries. Since then I have used them very, very successfully in this camera. On a recent field trip to the local mountains near Monterey, CA, I set out with a fully-charged pair of eneloop AA batteries in the SX150, and I carried a backup pair of eneloop AAs just in case. I did a full day of shooting with 425 full-sized JPEGs and 8 minutes of HD video, and I used a lot of zoom and frequently turned the camera off and on too. That is a LOT of battery use for one set of AA batteries. The batteries finally ran out early the next day as I was testing some of the features on the camera. It is my understanding that it costs less than 1 cent apiece in household current to recharge them each time, and that they are guaranteed to recharge at least 1500 times. And they are also supposed to hold about 70% of their full charge even after three years just sitting on a shelf! (Unlike the older style of rechargeable AA batteries that lost their charge fairly quickly.) Since they last at least 2 to 3 times as long as standard alkaline batteries on each charge, that would represent a total savings of at least $1500 (fifteen hundred dollars) over the cost of buying 3000 alkaline batteries on sale at only 50 cents apiece FOR EACH PAIR OF AA ENELOOP BATTERIES that you would use on any other household devices in your own home. Don't think of them as just being for use in a camera. They work in everything requiring AA batteries. Flashlights, computer mice, remotes (they make them in AAA too), children's toys, shop tools, wall clocks or anything else you might use them for in your home. They sell for about $20 on Amazon for an 8-pack of them. That represents a savings of about $6000 over the 1500 cycle lifetime of each 8-pack of eneloop batteries you buy and use instead of regular alkaline batteries. Do the math yourself and you will be astounded by how many thousands of dollars they can save you around your home over a period of 5, 10 or even 20 years.
BTW - As a special note. The "low battery" light comes on in the SX150 camera long before the batteries are actually dead. That is because the SX150 is calibrated for 1.5 volt alkaline AA batteries. The Sanyo eneloop AA rechargeable batteries only recharge to about 1.2 volts or 1.3 volts at most. The camera "thinks" they are low because it looks for a low voltage to decide that. Some cameras do have a menu item to change the battery check away from alkaline batteries (at 1.5 volts) to rechargeable batteries (at 1.2 or 1.3 volts), but I don't think the SX150 gives you that option. Just keep using them until they actually do run out and you will be surprised at how long they really do last.
Best wishes to all, - John

Regular alkaline batteries don't last long, and are obviously WAY too expensive to use in any AA battery camera for more than very occasional shooting. That is printed right in the instruction manual. Honestly, you are just supposed to know that fact ahead of time.

You only use alkaline batteries in emergencies when you simply run out of the extra recharged ones you are carrying with you and you find yourself in a tight spot. Later on when you buy your next camera, you can transfer those same AA batteries to it without spending a dime buying a single new, proprietary lithium-ion battery in the whole process. Rechargeable AA batteries are unbelievably cheaper in the long run - and much better for the environment - if you add up all of the costs and waste involved in going through one new set of proprietary lithium-ion batteries after another as the years go by.

That is probably this camera's best, preferred, long-term feature, but by no means its only good feature. It is also very light weight and compact. It will not fit in your shirt pocket, but it is not supposed to. Your shirt pocket is where your cell phone goes with its own built-in camera. The slightly larger and heavier (and much better image quality) Canon SX 130 or SX 150 will fit easily into your coat pocket, travel bag, or purse, which is where it belongs, anyway.

Should you buy the new SX 150 if you already have an SX 130? That depends on you, but especially on whether you want a backup camera with you when you go out on a photo shoot. On my most recent trip I took my older SX 120 camera with me as a backup. I don't want to be out in the wilderness with no backup camera, and the best backup camera is the one closest to my current camera as possible. On my next trip I will take my SX 150 and my SX 130 will become my new backup camera.

Now I will sell my older SX 120, which still works fine after three years, to somebody else who understands the reliable and cost-effective value of having a good 2-AA point-and-shoot camera. That has been my experience with the whole Canon SX 100+ Power Shot line over the last several years now, and it has all been very positive. I hope this review may help others who may not have seen some of this economical, common sense information discussed in this way before. Best wishes and good photo results to all.

UPDATE: There is at least one other important option with the SX 150 that I have not really described here in my original post, but since it is a generally affordable one it deserves some serious consideration. It is the option my wife and I personally chose and have used with wonderful success together through the SX120, SX130 and now the SX150 model cameras. You can buy 2 - Canon SX150s, for the price of 1 - Canon SX40. (We do actually own an SX40, too, but we have found we rarely use it except for super-long 35X telephoto shots. It is just too cumbersome for us to carry around with us most of the time in it's separate camera bag.) My wife carries one SX150 with her, I carry the other. (She chose a black one, I wanted a red one!) At least one of us ALWAYS has at least one of those two SX150 cameras with us at all times. Together we get more good shots that way and under a wider variety of circumstances than either of us would separately. And we teach each other new techniques with the camera. If I figure out a new manual setting, I teach it to her. She may discover a new camera angle that had not occurred to me to try. We have found that when we shoot the very same field trip together we shoot different things because we zero in on different things. We complement each other's photography, and that has been an even more fulfilling experience for us personally to share together.

Again best wishes, John
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 46 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 13, 2011 8:55:44 PM PDT
M. Eve says:
Looking for a replacement to my SX110. It took great pictures , but I used it in very harsh conditions (from wet winter snowshoes trips to duststorms in the desert) so it only lasted 3 years before failing. After looking at many replacement options from $150 to $500 (dSLR is not practical for my uses), I'm back to considering the SX130/SX150 as the best option for price/features. I would consider a weather-resistant camera, but all seem to have significant drawbacks of one type or another.

Some have complained that the CMOS sensors are not quite as sharp as the CCD, but that CMOS is better for low light. Do you have any comments?

BTW, I totally agree that AA batteries are the way to go. When my wife and I travel, we take a dozen or so NiMh AAs and a charger. This keeps our 3 cameras running as well as a GPS, small flashlight, etc. I would hate having to carry 3 chargers and 3 different types of batteries to keep everything running!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2011 10:58:16 PM PDT
I wish I could help you in choosing the right sensor, but in truth I don't know enough about them to differentiate a good one from a slightly better one.

From my own personal experience I will simply say this. In almost all cases of field shooting, the slight edge of one sensor over another is insignificant compared to the main question, which is, "Under field conditions, will your camera take decent quality photos that meet your needs?" There is an old adage that "Big Cameras do not take Big Shots." You've got to be able to take a good shot when you see the opportunity, or else it does not matter how big your camera is or how good your sensor is. If you get a halfway decent shot to start with, you can always fiddle with the image later in Photoshop® to smooth it out. But it's just this simple - you can't work with photos that you don't have.

That is the main advantage of point-and-shoot cameras over DSLRs. You get a higher percentage of "goods shots" with them. They are faster for you to change your ISO and shutter settings on the fly, and you can see exactly what you are going to get ahead of time when you look at the LCD. To my knowledge no DSLR currently on the market yet offers a true, live "exposure view" on their LCD of what the shot will actually look like. They only show you what the CAMERA sees, they don't show you how the EXPOSURE is set for the camera (light to dark) when you will be taking the next shot. You are working blind on your exposure settings, and unless you have a lot of experience with camera adjustment F-stops, ISOs and so forth, and unless you are shooting in RAW, then you are going to end up with an awful lot of bad shots along the way.

Someday DSLRs will probably have that feature, just like most point-and-shoot cameras do today. But right now they don't, so for my purposes they are essentially worthless.

In my experience the Canon SX 130 and 150 cameras are among the best cameras for doing just exactly that and the ONLY quality cameras which will still do that on 2-AA batteries.

Hope this helps you with some perspective about sensors. In almost all cases, they are not as important as your ability to react quickly to a photo opportunity, to make quick adjustments to your camera and to see on the LCD exactly what the exposure level of the shot is going to look like ahead of time, and then to get that important shot before the opportunity for it is simply gone.

Best wishes.


Posted on Oct 19, 2011 5:30:05 PM PDT
Nomad Vehr says:

I think you left out on the battery department the new generation of rechargeables. Sanyo Eneloop, Sony Cycle Energy (Which I personally use) and other brands are coming up with these. They hold a lot of their charge stored in the shelf unlike the previous generation. I has been a boon to me particularly since sometimes I would forget to recharge the stored batteries after a while to find the surprise they are out of juice when changing them.Fortunately like you stated, AA's are available everywhere in case of emergency.

To Eve:

In my particular experience the SX-110IS is an excellent camera. And one of the features I bought it for was the flash. And also it was my first detachment from the optcal viewfinder which in the era of LCDs is redundant to me (although many people have discussed for still keeping it). A couple of things you have to be aware if jumping to the SX-130IS which I currently own:
1. It´s a bit slower than the SX-110 and misses the ISO Auto/high modes on it. But performance wise it delivers.
2. Flash photography is what you expect on an AA operated camera 5-10 seconds between shots.
I can´t say anything about the SX-150 since I haven't operated one, but with megapixel increase I can only assume it will be a bit slower than the SX-130 given my SX-110/130 experience.

Cameras I owned:S-40 (first digital, the works!), S-50, Elph SD700IS (pocket sized, but no full manual control), A-720 IS (AA Batteries, back to full control) , SX-110 (Goodbye viewfinder!, AA´s awesome flash), SX-130 (Upgrade, although miss some features). The previous ones are at my father´s place a.k.a "the museum". He jokingly says he doesn´t buy any more gadgets since he knows all my previous stuff will end at his place. The SX-110 has been a boon to him in the sense that he doesn't make accidental flash shots in places where it is forbidden (mostly museums) any more, plus with his rather large hands it is easier for him to maneuver.
I hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 19, 2011 7:56:33 PM PDT
M. Eve says:
Thanks, John and Boris.

Posted on Oct 23, 2011 1:37:29 PM PDT
Hernan Picco says:
Thanks for very valuable information.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 1:42:54 PM PDT
S. Griggs says:
Agreed on all of the above. Nice to hear that someone else appreciates the advantages of this camera's features, including the manual flip flash. The museum is a prime example. This is truly the best point & shoot camera with AA power IMHO. Ansmann 2850 mAh capacity cells have had great service for me for the past three years and always allow me to shoot more shots than the manual rates the camera can do with rechargable cells. Eneloops are great too. A friend and several others here on Amazon swear by them in reviews. I've even come up with an idea to put filters on my SX130 easily. When I try it out, I'll pass the idea along to others here on Amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 1:52:50 PM PDT
Nomad Vehr says:
I've never been a fan of filters (just to keep things simple) but ever since a friend of mine showed me the polarizing filter on his DSLR at work I have been interested specially in reducing glare. I somehow managed this to a certain point by shooting with the flash on. I'll be waiting on your post to see what you come up with...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 2:29:18 PM PDT
S. Griggs says:
Well Boris, since you replied so quickly, I'll give you the idea before trying it myself. If the configuration does not work too well for you before I find out myself......try it at your own risk. I'll be using something temporary first to see if it works before using something more substantial.

I have a set of 37 mm filters that cover the camera lens opening nicely without being in view of the photo when in place. I've been using the polarized one when rarely needed just by holding it in place to take one shot. But then later, an idea came to mind when I saw some tiny thin round magnet discs used to keep a novalty thumb drive cap on that was made of wood. I was suprised to see how firm of a hold it really had. The idea for the lens would be to glue two of the discs on the front of the lens barrel to hold the lens on temporarily but without having to hold it as mentioned above. I'll have to put magnets on the filter too since the rim is aluminum. Remember, I've not tried it yet but the concept seems good. But it if works as planned, I'll have a set of magnetic lens filters that pop on at a moment's notice.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 2:35:30 PM PDT
Nomad Vehr says:
Magnets!!!! Holy moly why didn't I think of that??? I was going for a plastic or cardboard tube cutout, but you´ve nailed it S. One part I don´t have is the filter but I´ll buy it as soon as I try out the magnet thing.
Thanks for the contribution. I truly appreciate it.
All the best

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 7:30:24 PM PDT

Technically, of course, you are right. It is true that there are some very good next-generation rechargeable AA batteries out now - as you pointed out - that do hold their charge a lot longer. But many people still do not know about them, you still can't buy them readily at most supermarkets, and the price of some of them - when they are not actually on sale - can still be pretty high.

I posted my original review as a general warning to the buying public, and I tried to keep it as short as possible so that people would actually read it. I wanted to emphasize the point that digital cameras powered by AA batteries are almost always economically preferable to those powered by proprietary batteries.

Many people anguish considerably over which new digital camera to buy, and then spend their hard-earned money on the only camera they will be able to afford for the next few years. In doing so they often focus exclusively on the photographic features of the camera and never seem to consider how much the batteries for it are going to cost them in the long run. Much less do they consider how much the NEXT camera is going to cost them, especially if they have to buy all new proprietary batteries for that one too.

That is really not fair to the hard-pressed consumer in today's economy. There are laws now that say you cannot sell a new car that way. If it guzzles gas and requires major upkeep expenses, then you have to tell the consumer that before they buy it. But that is not true with digital cameras. That was the main point I was trying to make.

Those voices who want to change the 2-AA-powered Canon SX 150 into just one more proprietary-battery disaster for everyone else just do not seem to have any idea of the money-savings-value of what they are trying so desperately hard to destroy. And it saddens me that in their ignorance they are trying to ruin that one last chance for all the rest of us.

Best wishes.
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