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Last October I went to Lisbon with a digital camera from Sony but returned without it. I had noticed that one hook of the strap had come loose, I refastened it so that the camera wouldn't fall off my shoulder. It may have come loose again, but I would have heard a thump in case it had fallen to the ground, wouldn't I? Sadly, it's more likely that it was stolen out of my rucksack in a tram. Silly me, I had it on my back instead of in front of my chest. The tram was packed full, just the perfect situation for a talented pick-pocket.
I decided to buy another digital camera, but I didn't want such a small, flat thingy the size of a packet of cigarettes one sees everywhere nowadays. I want to hold something solid and sturdy in my hands. I had a certain price range in mind and I consulted the photography guide of this site, he suggested some brands among which was the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS. I went to a photo shop and had a look, yes, that was a camera I could like. The dimensions are 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 inches, it weighs 10.4 ounces (with two AA-size batteries), it has 10 mega pixels. One can choose between the modes Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Indoor, and Kids & Pets or simply turn to Easy Automatic. The flash must be opened manually.
I didn't buy it at once, however. I bought it on Tenerife where my husband and I went at the end of the year, it was 40 Euro cheaper there than in the German shop and on Amazon.
I knew that it didn't have a view finder but I didn't realise how much I had got used to one and how much I missed it. It still happens occasionally that I lift the camera to my eyes and then take it down disappointed which must look odd to someone watching me who doesn't know what a viewfinder is.
I'll never forget my first outing with my new acquisition. I wanted to take a photo of a beach and held the camera in front of me as one should do. For a fleeting moment I had the silly idea, "Good job, they've also included a mirror, maybe for the female customers". I looked at the back of the camera and instead of the beach I saw my face and what was behind me. I turned the camera this way and that way but to no avail. It didn't matter from which angle the sun light came, the result was always the same.
So back to the shop. The Indian shop-assistant (all photo shops - and there are loads on the Canary Islands - are in the hands of Indians) was surprised about what I told him. He went out with me to test the camera, and what can I say, the damned thing showed exactly what it should, no mirror effect whatsoever. Talk of feeling daft! Meanwhile I've found out that if I point the camera to the ground and lift it slowly, I may be lucky and see through and not myself. Of course, snapshots are out of the question with this camera, how can I catch a quick, passing moment if I don't see anything? I've made some blind shots which look good because I've got a good eye and compose the photo in my mind before I take it, but this is not the way it should be.
Back in Germany and back to internet access I consulted the guide again and he advised me to peel off the protection for the screen the shop-assistant had talked me into buying to prevent scratches. It's reflective, matt ones cost more and aren't made to lower costs. I did that but it didn't help, the screen itself is also reflective. Same story: matt ones cost more and aren't made to lower costs. I read all online reviews on the camera I could find but none mentioned the mirror effect. Was I the only one with this problem or didn't it disturb anyone else? Then I found a Q&A site on technical probs. A technician told me to put on Polaroid sun glasses which protect the eyes against the glittering of water and snow when taking photos, he promised I'd never see the mirror again. Sounds fine, but I wear glasses which become dark when it's light outside, I can't put Polaroid shades on them.
When I discussed the matter with a shop-assistant in a German photo-shop, he told me that was complete nonsense, Polaroid glasses wouldn't help at all. He said he knew what I was talking about because he'd had the same camera once and this was something one had to live with. This was the first time I felt I wasn't hallucinating. He had always shielded the screen with his hands. I've tried this but to no avail, my hands aren't the size of loo lids, the mirror effect doesn't disappear. I've tried to shield the camera holding my Panama hat in one hand, again to no avail. Besides, taking a photo one-handed isn't a good idea, either.
What the man told me dumbstruck me. So cameras which such a vital flaw are produced and sold!? He enlightened me that it all was a question of money. Money is also the reason why there are no viewfinders any more. Death and damnation! I'd willingly pay some Euros more and have a perfect camera.
As I've made clear now, the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS is not recommendable for taking photos in sunshine but it must be said that it's excellent for doing so in drab weather and indoors. Surprisingly little light is needed to make excellent photos. When Easy Automatic is switched on, the photographer is told to open the flash if it's too dark. Several times I haven't done so and made excellent photos nevertheless. This can be useful when taking photos in museums where the use of flash is forbidden or for portraits.
I won't tell you about all the features the camera offers because I don't use them. I don't want to watch videos so I don't make any. I don't want to do any artistic tricks like, for example, distort the perspective. The only thing I really need and use regularly is a zoom and I'm happy with the 10x zoom lens.
Battery life is ridiculously short, I bought rechargeable batteries at once and never go anywhere without ersatz batteries.
It's difficult to come to a conclusion, is the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS recommendable or not? It has its good sides, but for me the bad ones outweigh them. I'm more interested in outdoor photography than in taking photos in museums or portraits. Bad luck that the pickpocket didn't steal this camera but the one from Sony with which I was perfectly happy.
On the day of writing Amazon sells the camera for 159.89 GBP.
The Canon powershot SX120 S is a digital camera...no sh Sherlock!
However, it is a darn good digital camera. Having had a compact digital as my prevu=iuos camera, this was a big step up. Whan I say big step up...I mean in terms of spec and also in size. One thing to note about thsi camera is it is large...not small and easily pocketable...just bear this in mind before you buy. Don't get me worng, it will fit in a decent sized pocket, but it will really stick out.
The size is a slightly bad thing as mentioned above, but it also a good thing. The unit feels solid and has a hand grip on the right that protudes the same distance as the lens when fully retracted. The zoom lens is great, allowing a 10x zoom functionality. This sounds liek a lot and is actually great for distance shots. I have only been used to 3Mp 5x zoom, and thsi 10Mp 10x zoom really makes my old camera seem dated. THe zoom does make a fair bit of noise on moving in and out though.
The quality of the pictures is decent, though in lower light, the pictures do appear a little grainy. If you start increasing ISO speeds, the pictures do appear to become slightly more grainy. Ther can be occasions where some pictures get a purple tinge in some of the revirews I had read, but I have not found this to be a problem. Ther are tons of settings to play with and an auto mode for point and shoot, which means you can have hours of fun playing with the different modes. I do find that the auto focus can be a little slow, though you can manually focus in readiness for that quick shot. As to be expected, it is nowhere near as fast as a DSLR, but is more comparable to a comact, though it has a decent processor inside.
It is powered by 2 AA batteries and I have opted for rechargebale ones as it will go through batteries like nobodies business. This could be an advantage as it is alot easier to have spare rechargeable AA batteries than a spare battery pack. Use of the zoom lens will drain your battery really fast, as will the constant focus feature, which tries to focus constantly as you move the camera whilst it is on (to try and assist you in getting that shot a bit faster).
The flash is pretty good, but has to be popped up manually if you need it (I had hoped it would be auto pop up like on the old skool sports cars, but alas, it was not!). The 3 inch screen is a good size but is probe to being scratched easily.
The video mode does not have HD recording and records sound in mono, which is fine is you dont need HD video recording, though this feature is available in the newer models.
Overall, I love this camera and spent many moments snapping away during the recent snow period.