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Taking the Canon PowerShot SX130 IS to San Francisco

Meredith's portrait

Off on a trip to San Francisco last weekend, I wanted to take along a camera that had more zoom and a faster response time than my point-and-shoot -- but wasn't as heavy as an SLR. The Canon PowerShot SX130 IS had just come into stock, and looked perfect. I got a chance to borrow it for the weekend to try it out.

The camera is definitely portable. Over the four days I was away, I mostly carried it in my purse. I also slipped it into my raincoat pocket when I went for a hike. It certainly wouldn't fit in my jean pocket. It's too substantial for that.  But it wasn't so heavy that I ever considered leaving it at home.

The weather was sunny the first couple of days. I was mostly inside taking photos of friends at a conference, and dealing with the challenging fluorescent lights. But the first day I took a walk downtown and I tried some photos with the wide angle lens (28mm) and used the 12X zoom for some close-ups. I was impressed that it exposed my face correctly and the kept the Bay Bridge visible in the distance in a shot my friend took of me outside. I also got some very nice scenery pictures and close-ups of architectural details.

The last day, I went for a hike in Lincoln Park. The weather was foggy and cloudy, and the camera did just fine. I got a photo of the Bay Bridge that looked dreamy and with the gray sky and water. I also got a few shots of local fauna that came out sharp and detailed. It has a nice wide angle bright lens, so I certainly never had to struggle with grainy dark photos.

The LCD is 3 inches wide so it was easy to see what I was taking. Occasionally the pictures looked a little washed out on the LCD and then I was pleasantly surprised by the colors when I downloaded them later. The camera also turned on quickly. I didn't use the manual mode as much as I would have liked. I mostly kept it on the automatic mode and was satisfied with my photos. If I had it to do over, I would have found the time to read the manual on the included CD, since changing settings involved navigating the menu. I also would have shot a little HD video with it.

The Canon PowerShot SX130 IS would be great for anyone heading on a trip who doesn't like to lug anything heavy around. Or for anyone who needs a small but responsive point-and-shoot for taking portraits and other everyday shots.  I was happy with the results, and very glad not to have a sore shoulder when I got home.

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