Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Review

October 5, 2012 | Matt Grayson | |

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#1 Canon Fan

I started out in digital photography with a PowerShot SX100 and had a lot of fun with it. I like the design of this new SX160 and was considering it as a take everywhere snapper but the image quality is not as good my old SX100 used to be. I think Canon should have used the 12.1 megapixel sensor from the SX40 in the SX160.

10:45 pm - Friday, October 5, 2012

#2 John Cutts

I am quite new as a photographer, currently i am having Panasonic Lumix G5, will it be good if i sell my panasonic camera and switch to Canon Powershot SX160?

10:20 am - Saturday, October 6, 2012

#3 Rob Rosetti

For the sake of completeness: first pic on the second row from the bottom has been made with 2.048x digital zoom. So it must be scaled up by the camera software. Check its own Exif info.

4:04 pm - Saturday, October 6, 2012

#4 Robert

as Jessica implied I am dazzled that someone able to get paid $7051 in four weeks on the computer. did you see this site link (Click on menu Home more information)   

1:42 am - Sunday, October 7, 2012

#5 zebarnabe

John Cutts,
No… G5 runs circles around SX160… though price wise it is hard to assert which one is the best. If you have G5, don’t sell it, it is much better to save up for some lens and have a camera that performs much better regarding noise and dynamic range.

Canon Fan,
Canon Powershot SX220 or the 230 (GPS in 230) has the same price of this camera (currently), has a 14x zoom and a quite good 12MP sensor (specially in low light/high ISO). Only downsides are the slight higher purple fringes than average and poor battery life (specially in SX230 using GPS)

11:14 am - Sunday, October 7, 2012


This camera offers an excellent performance, It’s perfect choice as a first digital camera.

12:36 pm - Sunday, October 7, 2012

#7 Sveyo

The SX160 IS is nice camera for the money but I’d rather spend few more bucks for something like the Sony DSC-RX100 but of course it is in a league of its own, with much higher price tag. Honestly, I am not big fan of the low-cost Canon cameras, I think Sony does much better in this segment, I still use my old and amazing Cyber-Shot W55 even though I have much better and more expensive cameras. Great camera reviews guys, thanks.

9:23 am - Monday, October 8, 2012

#8 Alf33

I had a SX130 IS and liked it but I accidentally dropped it and now it doesn’t work so I am looking at this for its replacement as Canon cameras usually have some of the best picture quality.  However I was disappointed that Canon didn’t upgrade the sensor to a CMOS one and they also didn’t upgrade the processor to the Digic 5.  I would much rather had these features than upping it to 16MP from the 12MP my SX130 is.  Going up to 16X zoom is nice however but they blew it on the screen resolution as it’s low compared to most other cameras.  Now I do like being able to use AA batteries as that saved me a couple of times when the rechargeable’s went dead.  One thing I noticed in the article is that it says it goes up to 1600 ISO however on Canon’s website it says it only goes up to 800, why the difference?

Right now I’m undecided on this, the SX260 HS or the Panasonic DMC ZS-15.  I wish I didn’t have to pay for the GPS in the SX260 as I don’t want it and I’m a little reluctant on the Panasonic as I’ve read it puts a yellowish/browish cast on a lot of the photos.

10:58 pm - Monday, October 8, 2012

#9 zebarnabe


SX240 HS is identical to SX260 HS except it doesn’t have the GPS!

Panasonic latest models are less prone to the yellowish blotches at higher ISOs, though they are still present. However, Panny models are usually faster in general, providing faster focus and shot to shot times, also video quality in Panasonic is usually superior to rivals.

The older models of SX240/260 HS are the SX220/230 HS and currently cost the same as SX160, quality wise and IMHO they deliver better image quality than SX160 while having a bit more of chromatic aberrations (purple fringes in high contrast edges) and less zoom at 14x. SX160 16MP are simply not being resolved, however the smaller noise artifacts might give a more natural look to it when photos are printed.

On Canon website SX160 has AUTO, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 as the available settings, though you probably don’t want to go past 800 in any of the previously mentioned cameras.

BTW, units with GPS tend to drain batteries when using that feature, if you intent to use it, get an extra battery, or just use it for the first photo and have the location from that photo as a guide for the following photos of a place.

Hope it helps!

11:12 pm - Monday, October 8, 2012

#10 InfoHunter

I will be buying my 1st Camera this week and totally confused which one to go for. I almost made my mind for sx150 but now sx160 is out so its getting tough for me to come to a single choice. I am not a professional but after checking test photos posted under sample images I felt that quality of sx160 is somewhat dropped due to 14Mp to 16Mp(keeping same sensor size). Am I right ? or the quality is still there ?

Lumix tz25 is also in the race…

Please…...Help me !!!!

3:38 am - Thursday, October 11, 2012

#11 pratik

I am a novice and a photography enthusiast, a am almost decided on sx160, but if there is another option with same amount of user control, and is more pocket-able, I would love to consider it. Please suggest.
I would again stress on the amount of manual control this camera provides, as I would like to learn some tricks on my own.

Thanks in advance…

6:01 pm - Saturday, October 13, 2012

#12 Mery 60

hi boy…

is a best buy this camera ? i search a very good
camera with beautiful photos (in automatic mode ok ? ) and in the night good photos or ? and the video in HD is ok or ?

is best this canon or the Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR?

help , what i buy ? best photos and video ?

Kiss by Mery

6:57 pm - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#13 zebarnabe


If you’re looking at F770EXR for a bit more you can get SX260 (or SX240 if GPS isn’t a priority) that is a much better camera than these 2.

The old SX220 and SX230 (the later having GPS) are still very good cameras for today standards, lacking only the battery (a second battery is strongly recommended) and having a bit over the average chromatic aberrations (purple fringes in high contrast scenes). Price wise they are a bargain right now.

11:18 pm - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#14 Mike

I posted an extensive review of the SX160 on Amazon. (Look for the 4 star review by “Mike.”)

While I’m happy with the camera, especially for this (low) price point, I don’t like the body style. (No grip.) And there are a few nits that could easily be addressed with a firmware update. (Per my review on Amazon.)

Also, I philosophically disagree with Mr. Grayson about the silly eye-candy, gee-whiz “features” like fisheye effect, miniature effect, etc. He wanted more. I want less. (Or none.)

Canon should focus on making a good prosumer camera that takes good pictures and leave the true “point and shoot” automation to another version. We can do the silly stuff to the images at home on the computer. Remember GIGO? Silly on-camera image manipulation is no good if the pictures aren’t good in the first place.

Canon is compromising here offering the best of both worlds by loading this camera with features that appeal to both the consumer and prosumer market. I submit that if Canon marketed two different versions of the SX160, a consumer and prosumer versions, and focused on making the prosumer give better images, they’d sell more prosumer versions. (The Marketing psychology is, who wants to buy a lowly “consumer” version when they can buy a “prosumer” version.)

To me, a non-pro, the images look fine, even with the noise at 200 ISO. (Especially since we all look at images on screen nowadays (instead of on paper).)

But you knew you were buying a CCD sensor when you bought this camera. So if you want something better, image wise, you’ll have to spend more money.

9:58 pm - Friday, November 9, 2012

#15 kadajawi

I mostly use the video function of my SX130, so the CCD sensor is a huge plus. Too bad CCD is getting rarer and rarer. I mean the rolling shutter effect is extremely annoying, and CCD doesn’t have it (at least not noticeable). With CMOS you have to be extremely careful and even then get this annoying wobble. Shooting on a tripod or steadicam is almost a must.

16 MP is too much though. My DSLR has 16 MP, and I’d wish it hadn’t. Image quality could probably be even better with less (though admittedly it is already very, very good), and the file sizes are ridiculous. 7 fps bursts at 30 MB a photo?!

9:39 am - Saturday, November 17, 2012

#16 Safaa

Many thanks for the Review .. It’s chunky, true but some would love it that way! it feels very good in hand grab and I like the design although you gave it 3.5

For features .. I would love to see the coming version (may be SX170 or SX180) with 1080p video + LCD 460k because 230k is really crap + with faster auto focus in both video and stills + why not Aperture 2.0 ??

I would love to see a review for the competitor Nikon Coolpix L610

Thanks again

10:01 pm - Thursday, December 13, 2012

#17 Bill

just had buy an sx160is and testing it a bit.
So first i check the diffrence to use the 3 of the 4 postions 16Mp, 8Mp and 2 MP, means L,M1, M2 , the lowest is S.
16MP is noisy, not sharp, absolutly bad use to safe a pictur min. 3.5 Mbit.
the Position M1 with 8MP is significantly better than L. Tested on a tripod.
But i can tell You the Pictures even with 16 to 32 times Tele with position M2 >2MP are much sharper compared with M1>8MP in any case also on a TV-screen 26”.Also the same wit the movis. Standart Positon 640 is much better then 1280,1280 is to much noisy and no so sharp.
So more of the shit pixels, more lausy pictures.
I compar it also with my Old XM2-canon with 1.7MP and this camera still producing better pictures.
regards to all Bill
Sorry my bad english.

5:12 am - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#18 Bill

also one little problem is with the NiMh- Batterys in the SX160.
The Camera is switching very early of wenn the Batts still have 2x 1.1 Volts.
I think canon do adjust this Off-Level on that Batt Voltage, while with a lower Voltage than 2.2 Volts the camera will not more in a stable condition.
So i will use in the future the Sanyo eneloop rechargeable Batts, also while the self discharging is very low, especially at Temps to minus 20°C.
For really have a good Voltage in cold situation i also will use the Energizer ultimate Lithium, each with 1.5 Volts to have more space before the sx160 switch off.
Is any one to testing the switch off Voltage of the camera too??

10:57 am - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#19 Pat

Bought one for granndaughter and the batteries do not last over 5 hrs.  Dura cell alkaline.  Is this normal or is ours defective?

8:42 pm - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#20 Bill

hy Pat,

5 hours for Duracell’s are very good, i think. They will switch off at the same voltage level 2.2V. Especially ,if You use the flash. as soon he is loading up, the inner Resistance of normal Alaklines are higher and so far it switching off.
Have you the screen saving pulled in? , so after 1 Minute in stby the screen will switch off and after 5 minutes the 160 switch off too. You can adjust this in the menu.
So You can use the duracell’s still in a little Lampe also.

10:23 am - Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#21 Tom

Can this camera do Burst shots with a Timer with resolution of 6MP and higher? I am looking for a compact camera that’s under $175 that can do this. Thanks.

4:26 am - Monday, January 28, 2013

#22 vaclav

for 90 euro its great deal, the camera is a litle bit on the slow side, sometimes you have to fiddle the settings to get the most out of it, but possibility of chdk is great too.. Im quite pleaset with it ;)

5:42 pm - Sunday, April 7, 2013

#23 carole kuehn

Will Windows 8 take the disk in the computor?

12:20 am - Saturday, April 20, 2013

#24 PD

I am confused between the canon sx160 & sx500. The only difference that I could notice in the spec. sheet is the 16x vs. 30x zoom & the battery type.
I like clicking pictures but this is going to be my first digital camera so I cannot actually define my exact my needs right now, but which one would be a safer option?
Other options that I have shortlisted are sony dsc100v/200v & nikon L810/820.

2:19 pm - Tuesday, May 7, 2013

#25 Alex

Is it me or what? Ever since the Canon SX 110IS, every newer model after the SX110IS has most details smudgy / smeared / watercolored? I’ve noticed every almost every camera after 2008 is pretty much the same—someone decided is was a better trade off to reduce chroma/luma noise by smearing the noise and thus smearing details. I’ve tried various Olympus, Sony’s (including the A57), Canon’s and Pentax, and they are all the same, reduced noise at the expense of smearing details. Is there anyway we can get an option to turn off the smearing and allow noise? I have 1000’s of awesome highly detailed photos from my SX110IS, that no camera of today can match, all because of smearing. Granted, there is noise, but the noise really blends in, you hardly notice it, but what you do notice is smeared grass, smeared hair, and other details of photo’s taken today. It’s awful! Anyone feel the same?

3:30 am - Sunday, May 26, 2013

#26 PapaVudu

I notice a few comments of people proclaiming which cameras are better. I just bought this camera new for 129.00 from Fry’s. I did tons of research online and I could not find a better bargain for a Digital Camera with optical zoom and easily workable manual mode. Any negatives about this camera are offset by the price. If someone can post a better camera for the same price or less I’ll return this and go get it. Oh and I love the comment, “I’ll spend a few more bucks and get the Sony DSC-RX100”. A few more bucks? That’s 400 more!! If you can afford that why are you slumming it here?

10:42 pm - Monday, June 3, 2013

#27 jeff

Carole; Windows 8??? Good question, I just bought Windows 8 and everything I had would not update to work with Windows 8. Would really be pissed off to buy this camera and not have the CD download?!?!?

Anybody have the answer?

3:46 pm - Monday, June 10, 2013

#29 Andrew

I just bought this camera a week ago. Sure I’ve used other people’s point and shoot cameras a bit but I have never actually owned my own until now. I got it brand new for $148, best I could find around here (Alberta). As PapaVudu said, there are absolutely no complaints about this camera due to its price. I did heavy research and asked people I know, and this is definitely the best camera for manual shooting/optical zoom.

Its my first year here in Alberta and I went to the mountains to test out the camera. The main point of this camera for me was the high zoom capability for all the landscape photos I plan to take. I’m absolutely loving it so far. For someone who knows nothing about photography or camera settings, I’m really learning quite quickly and this camera is very simple to use with shutter priority, aperture priority or full manual mode. I would recommend this camera to anyone who is new with digital cameras but wants to learn more than just throwing it to auto and pressing the button.

Sure the battery died quickly, but it was just a cheap pair that came with it. I plan on buying a set of 4 rechargeable AA batteries, which is much more convenient than running to find an outlet when your camera dies.

2:19 am - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#30 kaelin

I have been looking around for a easy to use digital camera for quite some time now and this on really caught my eye! I dont know much about cameras but i want a cheap one that can take good action pictures. For example, im in gymnastics and if i were to do a backflip would it take a crisp picture of me in mid flip without blur? Please help!! For someone who has had this camera, please leave a comment with a review on how good it is with action shots!

7:09 pm - Friday, July 26, 2013

#31 Andy

i got this camera a few days ago, and i’m loving it.
it’s my very first camera and i didn’t know anything about photografy, but i’m learning very fast, it’s not hard to use at all and you can take very good pictures.
the zoom is great and i’m loving this camera.
highly recommended for people like me who is entering the world of photography and want’s to learn more.

PH: very nice review

7:19 am - Friday, August 9, 2013

#32 Paul

I bought this camera because it has a CCD chip and manual adjustments, particularly in focus. I like the CCD because it gives grain to an image like a wet emulsion and has no shutter effects unlike CMOS.
I had a Canon IXUS 105 (CCD) before that would just not cope with focusing in macro mode (auto focus only). The SX160 in manual mode is ideal. I am not going to be using all the optical aberration emulation options; I just wanted a good point and shoot that would cope with macro and occasional shots at the end of a telescope or microscope. Being plastic body its ideal for that because it is light. A heavier camera would be awkward to piggy back on a telescope or microscope. If I want more out of my shots I use my Canon EOS 400D.

The HD video is very good also despite not being a CMOS chip.

I would advise using re-chargeable AA’s at least 2500mAh. At AA size these actually out-perform a well known brand of alkaline battery (2100mAh).

4:06 pm - Monday, October 14, 2013

#33 kadajawi

@Paul: I disagree with your 2500 mAh AAs. Get eneloops or other LSD rechargables. While they only are rated at around 2000 mAh they will last MUCH longer than those 2500 mAh ones (had them before, there is really no competition. My DSLR went from 400 photos to 1000 photos). Basically the 2500 mAh ones drop below a (for the camera) usable voltage way earlier than those low self discharge eneloops do.

3:47 am - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#34 Paul

Kadajawi, re: Rechargeables.  Don’t take my word for it I got the data from:
This gives links to individual battery datasheets.
As I said this is only true for AA size.

5:50 am - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#35 kadajawi

@Paul: I’m talking about low self discharge NiMH vs regular NiMH batteries. The LSD ones (the most popular ones being the eneloops by Sanyo) do have a lower rated capacity, but they manage to keep a usable voltage for much longer. While overall you can get more from the regular high capacity NiMH batteries, much of it is at a voltage that is too low for cameras to use. So maybe instead of 2500 mAh you can only use 1200 mAh… the rest can be used up by… say a torchlight, but the camera will complain the battery is flat. On a LSD battery you’d be able to use up 1800 mAh before the camera complains it is flat. Besides, they discharge much slower when not in use. Leave a regular NiMH unused for a few months, and it is more or less flat, while the LSD will still be almost fully charged.

Basically I don’t see any reason to NOT go for something like the eneloop, especially when you want to use it with a camera. They do cost more, but they are totally worth it. As I mentioned, my old DSLR went from something like 300 photos to 800-1000 photos just by switching from a 2500 mAh battery to the 2000 mAh eneloops.

3:06 pm - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#36 paul

Can I refer you to Canon’s own specifications for the SX160
I quote:

Batteries 2x Size-AA Alkaline or Ni-MH Batteries (NB-3AH) (Alkaline batteries supplied)
Battery life Approx.140 shots (with supplied batteries)
Approx. 380 shots (with optional Canon NB-3AH batteries)
Approx. 420 min. playback (with supplied batteries)
Approx. 600 min. playback (with optional Canon NB-3AH batteries)

Now look at

Which clearly shows the canon Nb4-300 batteries to be 2500 mAh per cell.

You could now argue with me that Canon asked the manufacturer to deliberatively make and supply underrated Alkaline cells. But for what purpose?

3:39 pm - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#37 kadajawi

Canon bought some cheap 2500 mAh cells (which work, but not as good as good 2000 mAh) and had their name printed on them. No one said they were the best for the camera…

““Their most important difference though, is that the Eneloops appear to have much lower internal resistance, which means that their output voltage doesn’t drop nearly as much when they’re hit with a sudden current load. This in turn makes them much better at running ‘finicky’ cameras that give only very short run times on conventional NiMHs.

“In a non-finicky camera, conventional 2500-2700 mAh cells will power them a lot longer than Eneloops will, as the Eneloops are only rated at 2000 mAh.”“

From my experience the flatter discharge curve makes a big difference. High capacity rechargeables drop beneath what a DSLR running on AA batteries is able to run on, even though they still have plenty of capacity left. Just not at the voltage you need for the camera. Now the SX160 may not be as critical, may not require such a high voltage, but it should still make a difference.

To give more numbers (coming from experience… and memory):
Duracell Alkalines: Around 150 shots.
Regular, high capacity (2500, 2700, 2800 mAh) NiMH: Somewhere around 300-400 shots
eneloop or similar, 2000 mAh: 800-1000 shots.

Yes, you do get a lot more with the NiMH over the Alkalines, but you’ll get even more with a pair of eneloops. Depends on the camera of course, but unless you always charge right before you go out to shoot the eneloop (or similar LSD batteries) will always perform better.

3:35 am - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#38 Lauren

Probably a dumb question, but I’m getting this for someone as a gift:  Does it come with a way to transfer images onto a computer?

2:37 pm - Friday, November 8, 2013

#39 Priscilla

Hi! I loved the review on this camera. I’ve been trying to do some research on what camera to get as my first “fancy” camera. I’m no photographer by any means, but I do like taking lots of photos and my iPhone just isn’t cutting it. My question is- this or fujifilm finepix S4430?

4:38 pm - Monday, November 18, 2013

#40 George Deguara

Canon powershot sx160IS its battery disaster.

5:13 pm - Sunday, December 1, 2013

#41 Smitty

Just purchased this camera and I have a question about an AC adaptor.  There is an adaptor kit listed to use with this camera, but as I look all over the camera, I see nowhere to plug in an adaptor.  Can anyone point that out to me?  Thanks so much for all the reviews so far.  They have been very helpful in determining my purchase.

11:34 pm - Friday, December 6, 2013

#42 Sundus

Hi, I just got this camera and I’m a bit confused. How do you delete the photos? First of all they’re isn’t a button only a pic of a trash can and i have no idea. PLEASE HELP ME! please?

9:07 pm - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

#43 Smitty

Sundus, all you need to do is pull up the picture you want to delete, push the button next to the trash can (+/-) and it will ask you “Erase?” move over to Erase and push “Function Set” and it will delete it.  Also, when you download your pics to your computer, your photo program should ask you if you want to delete all photos on camera after you download to your computer.  That’s another way of clearing all photos from your camera.  Hope this helps. :-)

2:12 pm - Friday, December 13, 2013

#44 Sundus

Smitty, thanks for the heads up! I would also like to ask, if you don’t mind, do I need any specific memory card, or will any do? Thanks again. :D

7:59 pm - Saturday, December 14, 2013

#45 Smitty

Sundrus, I pulled the memory card from my old camera and it works fine.  It’s a Lexar Media card.  I Hope you enjoy your camera as much as I’m enjoying mine! :-)

3:53 pm - Monday, December 16, 2013

#46 Alexander

Can someone please tell the exact horizontal and vertical dimensions of the display in millimeters (or in inches, at least)? All the specs just give 3” diagonally, that’s it. I’m going to order a protection glass for the display but currently don’t have the camera at hand.

12:37 pm - Friday, January 3, 2014

#47 Sasikumar Krishnan

Awesome review. Planning to buy this camera.

2:31 pm - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#48 Chet

$99 at Walmart mail order blowing out inventory.

5:21 pm - Friday, February 7, 2014

#49 Almir

About the batteries life. I suggest you get the rechargeable AA batteries. Those will last you for a long time. That is what I did. It was a money saver.

12:21 am - Monday, March 17, 2014

#50 Bow-Legged Snake

This camera clicks off some very [impressive] shots 4 times out of 10.Has enough manual settings for the point &shooter; to learn with, before jumping into the dslr world. Nice little camera for the $$$.

3:55 pm - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#51 juron

In order to prolong battery life it is good to install Chdk software on the memory card. The only problem with chdk is startup time. It is significantly longer than startup with default software and in order to turn on camera you must push power button and then record button when camera turns on. But chdk gives full control over digic4 processor and battery life indicator.

6:37 pm - Friday, March 21, 2014

#52 tashi

I was recommended sx160 is by sales man in canon showroom, but now i think i was fooled. Image quality is not good plus when i shoot some close-up pic with flash, it shows shadow of lens in picture.

6:23 am - Monday, May 19, 2014

#53 Maureen

Bought the Sony SX160IS a little less than 2 years ago - very disappointed.  Already have a problem where randomly the viewer will go snowy black so I can’t take a picture.  I can see all the icons, but not my subject.  Called Cannon support and they said it sounds like the sensor is going.  I don’t use this camera a lot so there’s no way it should be breaking already.  Very disappointed.  First and probably last Sony camera.  I’ll go back to Nikon…

7:11 pm - Thursday, May 29, 2014

#54 corporate photography

I like clicking pictures! my first camera that’s why I recommended Sony SX160. Battery life is good.

4:47 am - Friday, June 13, 2014

#55 SWC Member

Anybody have any comments on this for a beginner at SeaWOrld (not debates please)? Thanks :D

11:51 pm - Saturday, September 6, 2014

#56 Matthew Dimorret

Bought it in Jan 2014. Already owns it 1 year.
The greatest camera I ever had.
I am not pro, just shoot and film for myself.
Before it, I had some pro stuff like Nikon D70, F75, etc. I got tired of them very fast.

Canon PowerShot SX160:
Cheap ~95USD.
Small, easy in the pocket.
Sits very sure in the right palm (pay your attention the camera has control adopted for the right hand).
Supports SD, microSD which are extra cheap, like rubbish nowadays.
Friendly and simple menu, with all necessary options.
Long time of work on simple Ni-Mh 2200mAh.
Very good flash.

It is a great choice for everyday use. You do not worry it fall down and your 800USD will become rubbish, like you worry about your 1.5kg Nikon, Canon, etc.

9:00 pm - Friday, January 2, 2015

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 16 megapixel, 720p, beginner, canon, travel-zoom, travel, prosumer, travel zoom, powershot, 16x zoom, sx160is, sx160 is, Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Review

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