Travel photography with the Canon Powershot SX160 IS and iPhone 5S

Canon Powershot SX160 IS
Boise photography 🙂

I love taking pictures. Who doesn’t, though? Especially when it’s so easy to snap everything and anything with smartphones these days.

When it comes to visually documenting my travels so that I can share them with you on Backyard Destinations, I heavily depend on two devices to help me do that: a Canon Powershot SX160 IS and an iPhone 5S.

Canon Powershot SX160 IS
Canon Powershot SX160 IS

There are a ton of cameras on the market, so it was a bit of a daunting task to choose “the one” that would capture all the moments that now and continue to live on this site.

A number of factors go into consideration before I purchase a camera:

  • Price
  • Image quality
  • Video recording quality
  • Specifications
  • Manual functions
  • Battery and battery life
  • Zoom
  • Size (It’s a goal to purchase a DSLR someday, but when on the go, it’s a lot easier to carry a compact device)

Since I started this blog, I’ve gone through two cameras and two smartphones: the Canon Powershot SX110 IS (a 9.0-megapixel camera) and the iPhone 4, both of which easily fit into my purse and backpack.

I’m a fan of the Canon Powershot SX IS line mainly because until recently, they’ve used non-proprietary batteries, and instead ran on AAs. (It’s just such a genius idea to have it run on such easily accessible batteries and makes life as a consumer so much easier.) They run on either alkaline or rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries. That is a huge draw because it’s more affordable to purchase spare AAs than proprietary ones. And if I ever ran out of juice, I would simply need to find a convenience store so that I could continue taking pictures.

The battery option is handy in foreign countries. When I visited the Philippines last October, I actually did run out of charge on my Ni-MH batteries. My charger could only be plugged into 110V outlets, but the ones in the Philippines are 220V.

Canon SX160 IS
Here’s a shot of the palengke (market) I took with my camera while in the Philippines.

But that was a small problem because I was able to pick up a few pairs for cheap at a store in town. (Actually, my aunt did, but it was no big deal lol.)

Canon Powershot SX160 IS

Canon SX160 IS
Here’s a full resolution photo (size: 3.8MB) taken with my camera in San Francisco. Feel free to download it to examine the pixel quality and check out the overall image quality.

I currently use the SX160 IS and decided on the model primarily because of the price, size, battery type and battery life. It boasts decent specifications for its $200 price tag:

  • 16.0 megapixels
  • 16X optical zoom (this is one of the most useful features because I can’t always get up close to the subjects I’d like to shoot)
  • IS = image stabilizer, which helps in reducing motion distortion in the event of camera shaking
  • A 3-inch color LCD display
  • 720p HD video with a dedicated button, so you don’t have to rotate the circle on top to get to that mode
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC storage

The SX160 IS is an advanced point and shoot, so you have the option to set the shutter speed (up to 15 seconds), aperture (F3.5 to F8.0), or both depending on the mode.

Other adjustable options include:

  • Image aspect ratio (1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9)
  • ISO (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
  • Self-timer (up to 30 seconds with preset options including 2 and 10 seconds)
  • Focus length
  • Video capture resolution (1280×720 at 30 or 25fps, or 640×480 at 30fps)

The average battery life is stated to be able to take 380 photos. With my 2300 mAh (milliamp hours) Ni-MH batteries (which have declined in life because I haven’t replaced them in a few years), I was able to shoot 226 photos (several of which were nighttime shots where I left the shutter open for up to 15 seconds) and 12 video clips ranging from 10 to 30 seconds each when I went to Joshua Tree last week.. There was still juice left, although the battery warning sign flashed toward the last few shots.

Canon SX160 IS
I had fun light painting for the first time at Joshua Tree. My camera was able to get this after being left open for 15 seconds.

The model has been discontinued now, and so has its successor, the SX170 IS. However, it’s still available for purchase for $200 on Amazon, and is probably cheaper elsewhere.

Overall, I love this camera because it’s a lot of value for the price. My only issue with it is the colors seem to come out a little dull. However, that’s easily fixable with basic photo editing software, and it’s a small price to pay for all the features that come with it.

iPhone 5S

I’m sure most people are familiar with iPhones, so I don’t really need to go into detail. It’s no secret that there are better camera phones out there (like the Samsung Galaxy S6), but it’s just that I so happen to have an iPhone. Pictures I shoot from there tend to go on the blog a lot, but more than anything, all my Instagram photos are taken with an iPhone 5S (except for any Canada photos and those taken before that).

Lake Poway, California, iPhone 5SMoonstone Beach, Cambria, iPhone 5SLADWP Los Angeles, iPhone 5S

Tickle Tree Cafe, iPhone 5SBig Sur, California Coast, iPhone 5SKrayvings, Las Vegas, iPhone 5S

Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, iPhone 5SRed Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, iPhone 5SSaint Gregory, Indang, Cavite, iPhone 5S

I decided to only post camera phone photos on Instagram because you can only upload photos through your mobile device and not on a computer. So, I took it as a challenge and it turns out you can capture a ton of amazing photos with a smartphone! Doing this forced me to think outside the box when composing photos, especially when it comes to angles.

There are definitely still a lot of great cameras out there, and eventually I’ll have to leave my current Canon Powershot for a new device. What kind of camera gear do you use when documenting your travels and why? Leave a comment or drop me an email 🙂

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