Canon ELPH 150 IS Review and Samples

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It’s not for everyone, and straight out of the box it will disappoint anyone who has already handled anything better.

However, you can still get some great images out of the ELPH 150 IS.

Shooting with the Canon Powershot ELPH 150 IS

Menus and “Ergonomics”

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The menus are okay.  You probably won’t need to read the manual if you use cameras fairly often.  Personally, I think Canon has the most intuitive menus for beginners, and this camera is no exception.

I put ergonomics in quotation marks because there are no contours to this camera, really.  It’s a little box that has an on/off button on top, and a shutter release with a scroll for the zoom.  There are some buttons on the back and the thing isn’t as tall or wide as most smartphones, but maybe a little thicker.

Takeaway:  anyone can use this camera.

Lens Performance

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The lens on the ELPH 150 IS is pretty decent, with relative sharpness at it’s widest focal length (24mm equivalent).  Aperture is automatic, with f/3 at the wide end, and f/6.9 when the zoom is fully extended.  Due to the mostly-automatic nature of the camera, the default ISO of 800 at its 240mm equivalent focal length leads to a fairly grainy picture, but working with decent lighting will allow you to override the ISO in Program Auto mode.  Then you can set your ISO to a clean 100 and get fairly smooth shots.

Takeaway:  the lens is great at the wide end, even in auto.  Zooming way out to the maximum distance will leave you with grainy shots unless you adjust ISO in the menus.

ISO Performance

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@ISO 200

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@ISO 400

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@ISO 800

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@ISO 1600

A little grain is a given when using any camera.  Most of us accept that.  But thanks to a diminutive sensor, and the automatic tendencies of this camera to set ISO to some of the grainier extremes, it’s going to behoove most users to stick with 100 ISO if they don’t want a grainy look.  Personally, I found the image quality at 400 and 800 to be workable, but I would still keep away from 1600 unless I really didn’t care about grain/noise.

Takeaway:  change the camera mode to Program and adjust ISO to 100.  And leave it there.

Exposure Whacking

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I can’t use “exposure control” because that is misleading.  You’re in for a struggle when you want to change shutter speed on this camera.  That’s okay – you can easily adjust exposure compensation, but finding the in-menu controls for shutter speed is tough.  Very tough.

Takeaway:  memorize how to get back to your exposure compensation for quick adjustment when taking photos.

Flash

Well, it’s a fairly simple point and shoot flash.  It does seem to have some nice range on it, but it’s positioned to the left side of the lens.

Takeaway:  good most of the time but forget using it for extreme closeups.

Macro

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Probably the best thing about little point and shoot cameras these days are those stunning macro shots.  In fact, it’s one of the niches that point and shoot and ultra compact cameras still excel at.  The ELPH 150 IS has a close-focusing distance of 1 centimeter (or .39 inches).  Decent, to say the least.

Takeaway:  if you like taking macro shots, shell out $150 for this camera and have some fun.

Creative filters

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Monochrome

I guess this is Canon’s attempt to cash in on the same things Fuji and Olympus are doing so well.  The problem with these effects in a point and shoot body is that they wind up looking far, far, far…far far far worse than the same effects from Fuji or Olympus.  Sorry Canon…but you just can’t do it in a body this small.  There is a grid display that users can enable to see a rule-of-thirds guide, but nothing that will save the this camera from the pitfalls of its creative filters.

Takeaway:  avoid cancer of the retina and don’t use these filters.  The rule-of-thirds grid overlay (hidden in the menus) may actually be of more use to creative photographers.

Video

It’s a compact camera with images stabilization (hence the “IS” in ELPH 150 IS), but it’s a tiny 1/2.3” sensor.  And it is only HD - not FULL HD.  So yeah.  Video is kind of there.  It’s wonderful, I guess, if you want video in your camera.  Otherwise, yeah.

Takeaway:  um, yeah.

All in All

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Final opinion?  Not a bad little camera.  Clearly an automatic package for someone who just wants to “take good pictures” but might not have heard about camera phones yet.

You do get better image quality if you take the ISO down to 100 and utilize the flash a little, and macro is amazing on this camera.  But since most of the people who are buying this camera probably aren’t going to know how to overcome its quirks, I don’t expect it to hear much about it or see it flying off of the store shelves.

In all honesty, it reminds me of the people who used to buy family cameras and let everyone in the family use it to take pictures.  It would probably be nice for a picnic or a family reunion, but even the 10x optical zoom seems to have a hard time grabbing distant subjects with the kind of clarity most can find in marginally more expensive compacts.

It’ll be interesting to see where this camera goes, and if Canon might start making niche macro point and shoot cameras for those of us who would like something small and portable for unexpected situations.

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