Canon PowerShot SX130 IS review

Ben Pitt
9 Dec 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

An affordable compact ultra-zoom camera that delivers the goods – as long as you can put up with the bulky design and AA batteries.



1/2.3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 12.0x zoom (28-336mm equivalent), 308g

Compact ultra-zoom cameras are perfect for people who want to expand their photographic horizons but don’t want to lug an SLR-shaped camera around. The Canon SX130 IS is amongst the cheapest ultra-zoom compacts, undercutting most rivals by £50 to £100. It’s not completely without company at this price, though. The excellent Samsung WB600 has fallen in price since we reviewed it and is now available for around £150 too.

Although the WB600 shows few signs of cost-cutting, the SX130 IS’s budget price is more obvious. Its batteries are the main giveaway. We used to think of AA batteries as a mixed blessing but these days we’re less forgiving. The advantage is that it’s cheap and easy to buy additional batteries. In practice, the downsides are more significant. AA batteries are heavier, bulkier and more hassle to charge than a Li-ion cell. They also make flash photography very slow – full-power flash shots were 15 seconds apart in our tests. We found that the SX130 IS warned of low batteries for a long time before they actually ran out. It’s not a disaster but it was a little distracting. It’s also important to note that rechargeable batteries and a charger aren’t included in the box. By the time you’ve budgeted for them, the SX130 IS costs around £20 more than the WB600.

The camera itself is much larger and heavier than other compact ultra-zoom cameras. At 46mm from its lens to its screen, it’ll only fit into generously proportioned pockets. The bulbous plastic design feels reassuringly solid but it’s no looker.

Canon PowerShot SX130 IS top

The upside of the big, curvy design is that it’s extremely comfortable to hold, with a raised metal grip on the front allowing stable one-handed shooting. It also provides room for lots of controls alongside the spacious 3in screen. Face detection and exposure compensation get dedicated buttons, and we’re happy to see that ISO speed is easily accessible by pressing the top of the navigation pad. The pad doubles as a wheel, speeding up operation where large changes to settings are needed, such as shutter speed or focus. The wheel’s design could be better though – the pressure needed to rotate it sometimes resulted in us pressing it in, inadvertently selecting one of the four button functions.