Reasonable, but no real improvement
Bought the camera on vacation and therefore had a nice opportunity to compare it with my old camera, the Canon Powershot SX100 IS. With the SX160 Canon has shown some improvements, but it's not the thing I hoped for, though of course the price tag indicates that a little bit.
The camera has gotten a bit more compact and therefore slightly easier to fit in a pocket, still it has a reasonably good grip. It still comes with normal AA batteries (actually included in the pack) but the lifespan seems very low (around 150-200 photo's). It also comes with an improved viewscreen (the one on the SX100 was small, and it was difficult to determine if pics were too blurry or not). The screen is definately better, though photo's look more bland than they do on the computer.
Cannot complain here, the movie mode is absolutely a big improvement. Quality is much better and handling of movies is easier with the record button.
Cannon also added some extra features called LIVE mode, it allowes the user to select the brightness and vividness of colors, though it lacks the options the P settings have.
In the P setting it is appartent ISO80 is no longer available which I find a pitty since I am a low ISO shooter.
Furthermore there are some special effects, Canon put out automodes for snow and firework pictures, and some of the Instagram like filters.
It sounds nice to try but there is one big problem, special effects and LIVE mode will be shot in lesser quality mode.
The autofocus has tracking AF and face detection AF,something you expect on a camera, but the camera has a lot of problems focussing on wide open landscapes. Point to the sky and it will fail to focus, point to a large field of grain and it will fail to focus, pitty and frustrating.
Well here's the real catch, though you can shoot on superfine mode with a nice 4608x3456 pixel radius, the image quality is reasonable, but not good enough. In fact, it's not better than my SX100 which I purchased in 2007! So 5 years of upgrades didn't bring any improvement to actual thing a camera is meant to do.
First of all the good news, it seems the corners are darkening as much as they did. Now the bad news, sharpness of the images has not improved, zooming in shows a blurrier image, even when resizing to the SX100's orignal format it still shows the SX100 winns on sharpness.
The noise levels are also apparent, where you could see noise on the SX100 in the skies very clearly but on other parts noise was almost non-apparent, in the SX160 they are less apparent on a blue sky, but overall with ISO100 you see noise all over the picture, even in detailed contrast photo's like a city-scenere noise is apparent. The noise is not disturbingly great but it's something to keep in mind.
Now there are 2 opinions to have, either the SX100 was a really good camera, or SX160 is really bad camera. In my opinion it's somewhere in between, by adding extra megapixels, a 16x zoomrange (which is quite useless by the way) the image quality was simply neglected. I still like the camera overall as it still produces reasonable results comparable to my old SX100 and it's a pleasure to use when shooting photo's as it has got all the amenities. If the 4x/5x zoom of the G-series is not enough, this camera is an option if you don't demand too much.