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Canon PowerShot SX130 IS - Design and Features

By Gavin Stoker



  • Recommended by TR
Canon PowerShot SX130 IS


Our Score:


With two AA batteries loaded and SD card inserted, the SX130 IS feels reassuringly solid, despite the large amount of plastic in the build. Designer it isn't but the matt black finish and attractive chrome detailing manages to inject a modicum of style.

As ever, in order to deliver a compact that is as compact as possible, the handgrip on the SX130 IS has been compromised. Here we get a mirrored angled strip at the front - resembling a slash or tear in the camera's body work - into which fingernails, rather than actual fingers, can be tucked and which doesn’t have a rubber finish. It feels more sensible therefore to use both hands to steady and level the camera, though there's not a great deal of room between the LCD screen and the left hand edge of the camera to rest a thumb there.

Despite the bulging styling suggesting room to squeeze in an optical viewfinder, there isn't one on the SX130 IS. The ridge above the lens houses a pop up flash instead, which does have the bonus of reducing red-eye as the flash is further from the lens. The photographer is thus reliant on the fixed 3-inch, 230k-dot screen for framing and reviewing all images. We found this adequate for the purpose, but using the camera across several dull wintry days it gave the impression of our exposures being brighter than they actually were, once downloaded to the desktop.

The headline feature of that bigger than average zoom is controlled by a lever that encircles the shutter release button on the top plate, both of which are subtly angled forward so making for more comfortable operation when hand-holding the camera. Unlike some of its competitors, such as the 10x zoom Casio EX-H20G, the full extent of the lens reach can happily be utilised when recording video, to take in both wide angle and close up framing. We'll examine its performance in due course.

As mentioned in our introduction, we would have preferred to have seen a dedicated record button featured where the playback button is located top right of the camera back. As it is, video has to be first selected on the shooting mode dial and then recording begins and ends with subsequent presses of the shutter release button.

As noted, the main auto mode on the SX130 IS is in fact 'Smart Auto', whereby the camera compares the scene or subject before its lens with 28 on-board presets and selects the most appropriate to deliver optimal results. As we've found with past PowerShot and IXUs models, it works very well, and allows those who just want to concentrate on their subject matter rather than fiddling around with settings to be able to do so - and still get decent results. Other smart features include the camera adjusting flash intensity dependent on prevailing light conditions, and firing the shutter when detecting a smile or wink - useful for those family portraits.

Slightly gimmicky perhaps but fun nonetheless are the Canon's digital effects modes, which here include fisheye, miniature mode, Super Vivid option and retro feel Poster Effect.

Tom MacFarlane

February 8, 2011, 5:09 pm

I was stupid enough to sell the excellent SX110 IS in favour of the upgrade SX120 IS.

It took me some to time to find out why I was bittgerly disappointed with the upgrade: Canon had removed the Super Fine compression setting.

It has not re-appeared!

John Z

February 9, 2011, 7:15 am

What a fantastic camera, the Sx130 obtains exactly the same 8/10 as the G12,

in both performance and image quality !

How that kind of situation may be possible ?

Does anybody agree that the Sx130 has exactly the same performance and image quality as the G12 ?

Or does everybody agree that the G12 HAS TO OBTAIN 9/10 in both performance and image quality ?


February 12, 2011, 1:29 am

Well said, Evilpaul. The whole purpose, and the whole problem, of reviews is that they must be relevant to the typical potential client. If they only relate to the reviewer's personal ideas of perfection they are worthless. The effort here is commendable. Even so I don't understand from where that overall score came.


April 28, 2011, 5:20 pm

Even in it's price bracket though, I would hope to achieve images that are sharper than those in this review, they are very soft. This seems to be a trend in current compacts where attempts at controlling noise ends up with nasty flat pictures. Too many pixels crammed into such a tiny sensor doesn't seem to yield great results.

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