Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Review

| Published Date
08 - Nov - 2012
| Last Updated
08 - Nov - 2012
Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

    Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Price in India

  • 9995/-

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Rating 0100100

Our Verdict

The SX160 IS has a lot to live up to, as it comes from a line which is known to deliver good features and performance with respect to price. Many a times, a newer camera does not mean a better camera than the predecessor, though that is expected. Sometimes, the changes are minor and cosmetic, and sometimes, the bump in image quality is barely noticeable. So, would you want to toss out your old camera just because a new one is out? Those are the questions we tackle when looking at the SX160 IS, since we�ve owned several of its predecessors. Read our full review to find out if it actually is worth upgrading to.


  • Excellent focal length range with smooth zoom
  • Runs on AA batteries
  • Dedicated button for raising flash


  • Plastic construction is obvious
  • Not much of an improvement in image quality from SX150 IS

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS: Detailed Review

Canon has a long standing history of producing great cameras, one of which was 2009’s Powershot SX120 IS. Since then, this point and shoot line has seen several upgrades, every year in August. We absolutely loved our SX120 IS, so when we got the newest version of the camera – the SX160 IS, we were extremely excited to figure out what new capabilities it offered.

For starters, the camera features a 16 megapixel sensor, 2 megapixels higher than the SX150 IS, a lower model point and shoot camera. Interestingly, Canon has stuck with the CCD type sensor for this lineup of camera from the beginning. It was a little disappointing at first to note that a back-side illuminated sensor was not part of the deal.

Build and Ergonomics
With the SX120 IS, Canon had pretty much nailed the ergonomic design. The camera was great to hold and use, with a button layout that made accessing most features very easy and intuitive. Nothing has changed in that regard to the SX160 IS. It’s still a great camera to use, well balanced with a flash that needs to be manually raised in the event it is needed (by the push of a button). The buttons are placed exactly the same way they are in almost every single Canon point-and-shoot camera, so if you’ve ever used one of Canon’s cameras, you’d know almost immediately where everything is.

The body of the SX160 IS gave us some mixed feelings. While we do like the cleaner flatter look of the camera, for some reason, it feels quite plastic-like to us. We received a silver model (matte finish) that is supposed to emulate brushed metal. Normally the phrase “plastic-like” tends to denote flimsy or weak, but that is definitely not the case with the SX160 IS. It feels sturdy, but one look at the camera and you know it’s made of plastic. The metal lens mount ring, though a good practical solution to protecting the lens, adds to the polarity of the plastic-metal design of the camera.

Lastly, the buttons are inset into the body of the SX160 IS, but easy to press. There is a dedicated video recording button right next to a 3x3 grid of ribbed dots, which we feel are for resting the thumb, but honestly, the flat surface doesn’t do much for thumb comfort. The right side of the camera has a neatly tucked away rubber door, behind which lie the mini-HDMI and mini-USB port for connectivity. At the bottom, we find a battery door which houses 2AA cells and an SD card slot.

The Canon Powershot SX160 IS packs in quite an impressive set of features, which doesn’t seem like much if you compare it with the SX150 IS, but observing the growth of this camera overtime, you realize it has come a long way. For starters, it packs a 28-448mm optical zoom, but suffers in the aperture arena a little bit. While the SX150 IS’s aperture moved between f/3.4-5.6, the SX160 IS loses a little by having an aperture range of f/3.5-5.9. We’re talking about barely half a stop of difference here, but when you’re zoomed in at the entire 448mm, even that half a stop can make a lot of difference. The video on the SX160 IS gets a very slight bump in video spec too, retaining the 720p video recording, but also offering 25p frame rate along with the standard 30.

Here is one thing that we absolutely love about the SX160. It runs on AA batteries. Now, you must be wondering how constantly spending on new batteries can be a good thing and we’re going to tell you how. Ever been in a situation where you need your camera but the battery died on you prematurely? Yeah, good luck finding a proprietary lithium ion pack to power your camera. This is where AA batteries come in handy. Now only are they cheap to purchase, but they can be bought practically anywhere (except the North and South Pole, we hope).

We also really like that just like its predecessors; the SX160 IS maintains a full suite of PASM modes that can be easily accessed using a mode dial. Lately, we’ve been seeing that the PASM options along with the mode dial have been disappearing from a lot of point-and-shoot camera segments, deepening the divide between the regular cameras and the advanced ones. The SX160 IS isn’t an average camera and certainly by no means an advanced point and shoot, so seeing the PASM modes here is a great relief as it allows some creative control even for those who might at some point want to experiment.

Image Quality
Now the IQ part of the SX160 IS is something that we were hoping a lot out of. Like we had said earlier, the camera houses a CCD sensor instead of a back-side illuminated CMOS sensor. Traditionally, CCD sensors were known to have better noise performance than a CMOS sensor, but with the BSI CMOS sensors, that has changed, with the two performing at par, if the latter not doing better.

The images out of the SX160 IS look as vibrant in color and with a good deep contrast. The images, especially those shot in daylight, tend to be exposed in favor of the highlights, causing the detail in the shadow areas to dip a little more than we’d have expected. What did, however, impress us is the measly 1cm minimum focusing distance for macro shots. Of course, given the right light and shooting conditions, this can yield some of the most amazing images one would come across, but we found that at such a close distance, there was often the shadow of the camera itself making an appearance in our shot. Minimum focusing distance seemed to increase drastically as we zoomed in. Regardless, we love the ridiculously small minimum focusing distance. The images shot at this range come out tack sharp too, with very little to no JPG artifact.

The low light performance of the SX160 IS left us feeling quite disappointed. As good as it performs in good light, the low light performance on this camera leaves a lot more to be desired. We noticed that as soon as we moved indoors, the camera had a hard time not only acquiring accurate focus, but also developed noise very quickly, not just in the shadows, but also in the mid-tones. We’re not even talking about night time, but just day time indoor shots with a decent amount of sunlight streaming in through several open doors and windows. Skin tones were also quite easily effected in low light, with browns quickly developing red dots.

The video behavior of the SX160 IS follows the same pattern as the image quality. Great video quality in broad daylight, with a tendency to expose for highlights, but low light video is just riddled with blotches of red and blue dots. We’re not happy that the camera is still limited to just 720p recording as many in this segment have moved on up to 1080p.

The Canon Powershot SX160 IS is a camera that comes from line of cameras that have historically and very delicately balanced the price, feature set and overall performance. The SX160 IS does pretty well in that regard, but compared to the SX150 IS, we really wish it had more to offer than just a bump in focal length and megapixel count. Improvement in low light performance would have been greatly appreciated and 1080p HD video would have made this our favorite camera. Then there is the finish we’re not too fond of, which makes the plastic construction of this camera a little too obvious.

However, not everything about this camera is bad. We love the focal length, especially the relatively wide 28mm starting focal length. There is also the PASM mode dial and full control on the shooting that’s great. The macro mode on the SX160 IS is also another feature that we’ve absolutely enjoyed playing with. Let us also point out that the camera costs just Rs. 12,995, which is far less compared to what you’d pay for other models from different manufacturers. All in all, if you’re on a tight budget, but require at least above average image quality with a good focal length, we’d say you should definitely go for the SX160 IS. If you’re already using the SX150 IS, we’d say keep it and wait for the next upgrade as the 160 isn’t really that much of a phenomenal upgrade from its one generation old model.


Latest Forum discussions on Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

  • Urgent: canon sx160 or sony cybershot dsc-wx60 or other

    Please help me buying my first camera.. Budget: Max 10k Canon SX160: 8175 (after applying coupon) [url=]Canon Digital Camera PowerShot SX160 IS-16 megapixels,16x Optical Zoom(2YR WTY) | eBay[/url] Sony CyberShot DSC-WX60: 8277 (after applying coupon) ...

    1. Bajaj15122/05/2013
      Bump !!!
    2. Nac23/05/2013
      Just after seeing your post, I learned that WX60 is available in Indian market. My personal choice between these two is SX160. It does have manual exposure controls, AA powered (I can buy extra batteries cheaper), more zoom...
    3. Ricky25/05/2013
      +1 SX160 It has 16x optical zoom ... But AA powered camera's can be real pain as you need to replace battery often but then again you can use rechargable batteries.
    Show More
  • Canon powershot sx260 hs - best price in india

    I have checked on the net and its price is ranging from 13-20k. Where can I find the best deal? I have found an old thread where it was sold at around 11k. Is it still available at that price?

    1. Quagmire25/07/2013
      ^Please provide links for all the things you've mentioned. Buying advice - [url][/url] SX260 is almost a year old. Wait for SX270/280 to release in India.
    2. Sujoyp25/07/2013
      It seems the minimum is 14.5 around ....if u get some coupens u can get it for lesser [url=]Canon Powershot SX260 HS Price in India on Jul 25, 2013 | PriceDekho India[/url]
    3. Nac26/07/2013
      Is it? I don't remember it was selling @ 11k. The best I could remember is around 14k.
    Show More
  • Canon powershot a2300 at 5.3k

    [url=]Cameras :: Point & Shoot :: Canon PowerShot A2300 Point & Shoot -[/url] Is this a good deal ? Around Rs 5270. Rs 6300 elsewhere in Flipkart. If i want to buy a decent point...

    1. Tkin20/02/2013
      [QUOTE=mitraark;1846136][url=]Cameras :: Point & Shoot :: Canon PowerShot A2300 Point & Shoot -[/url] Is this a good deal ? Around Rs 5270. Rs 6300 elsewhere in Flipkart. If i want to...
    2. Mitraark21/02/2013
      6k maybe. I wasn't really looking forward to buying a camera, thought maybe gift one to my mother in May. Saw this deal today and thought of buying now.
    3. Tkin21/02/2013
      [QUOTE=mitraark;1846879]6k maybe. I wasn't really looking forward to buying a camera, thought maybe gift one to my mother in May. Saw this deal today and thought of buying now.[/QUOTE] In that case, go for it.
    Show More
  • Canon powershot sx150 is?

    Hello All Wanna buy a Camera around Rs.10k. There is only model which comes to mind right now because of all the features and the recommendation of everyone and that is Canon SX150 IS. I have operated it also at a store and find it to be nice. The only thing which troubles me is the battery life.Is it that bad when compared to its rivals...

    1. Sam28/10/2012
      just don't use flash all the time and battery life will be decent. turn on flash (or raise the flash) and the battery life immediately drops. only problem will be the charging period of battery if you don't own a quick charger. I have recently bought the SX150 and the best part of it is the manual mode. Once you start tweaking the settings, you...
    2. Rouble28/10/2012
      @Sam Okay..Without flash how much snaps can I expect if I am using a good battery like a sanyo or a sony?? Really!! What is the difference between the time taken to charge the batteries from a quick charger and a normal charger? Yeah that is the reason I want it, the manual mode is quite good. By slow you mean the time taken to ready the camera...
    3. Sam28/10/2012
      [QUOTE=rouble;1774706]@Sam Okay..Without flash how much snaps can I expect if I am using a good battery like a sanyo or a sony??[/QUOTE] expect ~200 shots from the bundled 2100mah battery. It is just that Sanyo Eneloop can hold the charger for a longer period. [QUOTE=rouble;1774706]Really!! What is the difference between the time taken to charge...
    Show More
  • Looking forward to canon powershot a1200

    Hellow guys, am looking forward to buy Canon Power Shot A1200. I think it's a good camera under a budget. How is this camera as per your view as photographers? One more thing, one thing keeping me away from this camera is its AA batteries. Can I put rechargeable AA batteries?

    1. Sujoyp29/02/2012
      Its a basic P&S camera with 720P video recording and 4x optical zoom For day-to-day usage u wont find a problem...just dont go deep into the pics and compare them with DSLR quality :D I think flipkart is giving rechargable cells and charger along with 4gb card and pouch...soo if u dont have budget for quick charger now then wait and get a good...
    2. Jkultimate29/02/2012
      [QUOTE=sujoyp;1593442]Its a basic P&S camera with 720P video recording and 4x optical zoom For day-to-day usage u wont find a problem...just dont go deep into the pics and compare them with DSLR quality :D I think flipkart is giving rechargable cells and charger along with 4gb card and pouch...soo if u dont have budget for quick charger now...
    3. Sujoyp29/02/2012
      whats the price there...and freebies ?? rechargeable cell should be free or u have to invest another 1k in those
    Show More