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Canon PowerShot SX170 IS

Ben Hall

These days there are plenty of digital cameras on the market for under AU$200 and naturally quality and performance levels are reflected in this price. Canon has released its newest “budget” camera but the big difference is the PowerShot SX170 IS has advanced to a league above with a product that punches well above its weight (and price tag).

This little dynamo weighs just 250 grams and at 108mm X 71mm X 44mm, the 170 IS literally fits into the palm of your hand and can be carried in a top pocket, making it the ideal compact camera for a holiday getaway.

We took it on a road test in Canberra on a weekend getaway and expected mixed results because of its diminutive size. But the SX170 captures high quality stills images and also produces good HD video clips in a highly functional and easy to use set up.

We kept the unit mostly in auto mode and were not disappointed by the results and there are also options to become a little more creative with program mode, shutter priority, aperture priority and full manual control available. These controls are the standard ones that come with most Canon cameras, so if you’ve used Canon gear before you can easily just pick this one up and start shooting with confidence.

The 16X zoom means it has a focal length equivalent of 28 - 448mm at 35mm and the shutter speed ranges from 1 - 1/3200 seconds, which makes it a versatile camera for most situations. This photo above was on 100mm zoom and even with the movement it seemed to handle the situation very well.

There is slight shutter lag, which means it’s tricky doing sport and moving photography, and naturally using the zoom in low light can cause image quality to deteriorate but in an overall sense these are minor issues which come with using all compact cameras.

The SX170 video quality is better than its peers and works best in bright light and as you’ll see from our video recording of the East Hotel in Canberra, it generally handled the change in brightness in the hotel room pretty well.

Like most of the PowerShot range there is no optical viewfinder, but on this unit the LCD is a handy 3inch screen and this poses the usual problem with such viewfinders: if it’s bright, it can be hard to frame and focus a photograph.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive camera which is more than just a point-and-shoot, and you want good videos, then this is a perfect travel accessory for your next holiday getaway.

(Check out our great travel competition where you could win a Canon SX 510HS. We also have a camera review on the Canon SX 510HS.)

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