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Canon PowerShot SX130 IS review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £151
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.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 12.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-336mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1280×720
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none supplied
Battery type 2x AA
Battery Life (tested) 370 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, DC in
HDMI output resolution N/A
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 308g
Size 73x113x46mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £151

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 15 to 1/2,500 seconds
Aperture range f/3.4-8 (wide), f/5.6-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV
White balance auto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controls dyanamic range, contrast, saturation, sharpness, skin tone, red, green, blue
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes centre, spot, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer