Canon SX170IS Review

This site is about Sony cameras technically, but I’m also the sole owner and writer so… today we’ll be talking about the Canon SX170IS!

Why You Can Trust Me

Chance (that’s me) has been practicing photography for 10 years and has been a paid professional for most of it. I bought my first Sony camera in 2018 so this site is a culmination, so to speak, of 5 years of Sony experience (full site history). For this camera, however, I picked it up at a thrift store and played around with it for about a week.(read how I review/test gear).

I thrifted this cute little red camera for like $5 a few weeks ago and decided to take it out and play with it for a while. Feel free to watch the video above (and sub!), otherwise I’ll have my impressions and sample photos below.

Let’s dive in!

bird in a field
16x zooooooooooooooooom.

Build/Aesthetics

First up, I love the vibe of old point and shoots. Bright colors, goofy aesthetic, etc. and this one is certainly no exception. It’s obnoxiously red. Like… extremely red.

Build quality wise, it’s actually decently well built. It doesn’t feel super flimsy (although my copy was missing the front lens cover). All the buttons felt good to use, and the grip, while small, kind of did the job (it’s so light, anyway).

me holding a camera
This thing is super cute.

Superzoom!

Anyway, these days, the average phone (even cheap ones) are going to take better pictures than these early 2010s point and shoots. The SX170IS, however, has one strength that a phone physically can’t match: 16x zoom.

There’s something very weirdly satisfying about being able to zoom ultra-close to something. I could barely see these cars on the bridge with my eyes, but the camera captured them easily!

And honestly, most cameras would struggle with shaking at this distance, but I found the image stabilization to be shockingly decent when zoomed all the way in. It wasn’t perfect (or comparable to modern Sony IBIS), but it was serviceable.

Video Performance

Speaking of image stabilization, that leads me to video. This baby shoots in a cool 720p. You ain’t gettin’ S-Log here, partner.

2013 quality aside, the image stabilization in video is comically bad. If you do any sort of panning, the IS will “skip” over and over, creating extremely choppy and unusable footage. You can see more, if you’re interested, in my video review above.

Image Quality

Now, onto image quality. Photos that come out of this camera actually look pretty nice. Not as good as a phone or a dedicated mirrorless, but they’re alright and give a sort of nostalgic vibe. I’ll throw a small gallery below.

So yeah, as you can see, well lit photos don’t look too bad. There is some WICKED flaring, but if you avoid shooting directly into the sun, it shouldn’t be a problem.

eclipse
2024 Great American Eclipse gloriously captured by the Canon SX170IS.

Now, where this thing really falls apart is at max ISO (only 1600). The first day I went out with it, I accidentally took every photo at max, so here’s a sample showing the horrific noise.

noisy field
More grain than the Kansas countryside.

Conclusion

Alright, so it’s obvious this camera isn’t spectacular… because it isn’t supposed to be. In the age of great phone cameras and increasingly more affordable mirrorless/DSLR bodies, the age of point & shoots is clearly long gone.

But still, it’s hard to deny a certain nostalgia hit when you use one of these old boys. I had a GREAT time with my SX170IS (especially the 16x zoom!). Thanks for reading my rambling, and if you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, consider using my eBay link. Thanks.