Canon SX30 IS Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
Resolution: 14.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 35.00x zoom
(24-840mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
ISO: 80-6400
Shutter: 15-1/3200
Max Aperture: 2.7
Dimensions: 4.8 x 3.6 x 4.2 in.
(123 x 92 x 108 mm)
Weight: 21.7 oz (615 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $430
Availability: 09/2010
Manufacturer: Canon
14.10
Megapixels
35.00x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
Front side of Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera

Imaging Resource rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Canon SX30 IS
Overview

Review by David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer
Overview by Mike Tomkins
Review Date: 02/15/2011

The Canon SX30 IS follows up 2009's SX20 IS model -- itself an update of 2008's SX10 IS. Compared to the SX20 IS, Canon has again raised the resolution ever so slightly, taking the SX30 from a twelve-megapixel CCD sensor to a fourteen megapixel CCD, with the result still being handled by Canon's DIGIC 4 image processor.

Gone is the SX20's 20x optical zoom lens, replaced by a jaw-dropping 35x optical zoom, offering focal lengths ranging from a generous 24mm wide-angle to a "don't-you-need-a-tripod?" 840mm-equivalent telephoto. This lens includes one ultra-low dispersion lens element, and one high-index / ultra-low-dispersion lens element.

The lens design also includes ultrasonic and voice coil motors, aimed at reducing autofocus and zoom noise when recording movies. An optional lens filter adapter allows use of 67mm filters with the SX30 IS.

As the "IS" in the SX30 IS's name indicates, it includes Canon's Image Stabilization technology, helping fight the effects of blur from camera shake -- and it's said to be Canon's most powerful IS system, with a claimed 4.5 stop improvement. Still, at the longest focal lengths we'd expect camera shake to be an issue even with stabilization in less than optimal lighting conditions.

Further recognizing the potential handling issues of such a long-zoom lens in a camera intended for consumer use, Canon has added a new Zoom Framing Assist button, which lets the user quickly zoom the lens out if they lose track of their subject, then zoom back in again once they've re-centered the subject in the image frame. A Smart Auto function automatically selects the appropriate scene mode from among 28 types, depending on subject matter.

Images are framed and reviewed on the Canon SX30's 2.7-inch tilt / swivel LCD display -- just a touch larger than the SX20's 2.5-inch panel -- which has a resolution of approximately 230,000 dots. As well as still image capture, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS retains its predecessor's high-definition 720p movie mode, with stereo sound recording.

A Dynamic IS mode available when recording movies aims to reduce camera shake when filming while moving, and a movie-mode variant of Smart Auto can recognize and configure the camera for 21 different scene types. There's also a variety of effects modes including Fish-eye, Miniature, Poster, and Super Vivid, of which the Miniature effect is available not just for still images, but also for movie recording. Like a similar mode available in some of Olympus' cameras, this has an effect on movie frame rate; Canon allows playback at either 6, 3, or 1.5 frames per second if the movie was recorded in miniature mode.

The PowerShot SX30 IS also retains the SX20's HDMI high definition video output. One other change of note is that the PowerShot SX30 IS now draws power from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, rather than the four AA batteries of its predecessor. As well as the SX20's SD / SDHC card storage, the Canon SX30 now supports the latest generation SDXC cards. In addition, the Canon SX30 IS is now certified as Eye-Fi Connected, meaning it provides access to certain management features of the popular WiFi-capable SD cards in-camera.

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS retails for around US$430, more expensive than its predecessor by $30. The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS began shipping in late September 2010.

 

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
User Report

by David Elrich

The Megapixel Wars may have subsided somewhat, but that hasn't slowed the race for the biggest and baddest mega-zoom digital camera. In this battle, manufacturers have leaped from 26x to 30x and now the Canon SX30's 35x zoom--until recently the most potent in the industry. What this means for you is an astounding focal range of 24-840mm equivalent. Let's see if the Canon SX30 is the long-zoom digicam you've waited for--or something to pass on by.

Look and Feel. Most Mega-Zooms look like small DSLRs, but you can't change lenses and you won't get the response or image quality that type of camera is known for. Those are the negatives. Here's a real positive--you won't go broke buying glass to achieve a similar focal range. For example, a 600mm telephoto from Nikon costs about $10,000. With a price like that for big glass on an SLR, you can see why Mega-Zoom point-and-shoots like the Canon SX30 are so popular.

It was just last year that Fujifilm made headlines with the $500 FinePix HS10 and its 30x zoom (24-720mm). Olympus even claimed its $350 30x SP-800UZ was the world's "longest ultra zoom" at 840mm. Now Canon has matched that one and even gone wider with the PowerShot SX30 (24mm vs. 28mm), a real plus in our book. What this 840mm focal length offers you is pretty amazing, as we'll detail shortly.

The all-black Canon SX30 IS is one of the better-looking Mega-Zooms with an attractive, muted finish. It's not festooned with decals galore, but elegant in its way. As you'd imagine, the 35x lens takes up the front, and like most cameras of this type, you attach the lens cover with a string to the strap. This looks a bit low-tech to me, and I like putting the cap in my pocket. The lens accepts 67mm diameter filters with an optional adapter (Canon part number FA-DC67A), and there's also an optional lens hood available (LH-DC60). The only other items on the front of the Canon SX30 IS besides a few subtle logos are the AF Assist/self-timer lamp and two stereo mics under the flash. Stereo sound is a big plus compared to some competing models. Overall the Canon SX30 IS measures 4.8 x 3.6 x 4.2 (122.9 x 92.4 x 107.7mm) and weighs 21.7 ounces fully loaded (615g).

On the top (going left to right) you'll find the flash adjustment key, a manual lift-up flash, and behind that a cover that hides the hot shoe for an optional external flash. There's a mode dial, an on/off button, and the shutter button surrounded by a zoom toggle switch that rests on the edge of the comfortable pistol grip. The mode dial has loads of options and they're pretty close to an entry-level DSLR. There's Smart Auto, Program AE, Aperture- and Shutter-priority, full Manual, two custom settings, three common Scene options (Portrait, Landscape, Sports) as well as Scene with 15 more choices. Many are pretty standard, but there are also Fish-eye and Miniature effects, which are unusual, if not especially useful. Finally there's a Movie option, even though there's a red video button on the back to quickly shoot movies without resorting to the Mode dial. Like most digicams, the Canon SX30 IS takes 1,280 x 720p clips at 30 fps in H.264 MOV format.

The rear of the Canon SX30 IS has an electronic viewfinder (202K dots) with diopter control and a 2.7-inch vari-angle LCD screen with 230K dots. This type of monitor lets you hold the Canon SX30 IS at interesting angles such as over your head or at waist level. The EVF is surrounded by a rubber gasket which makes it comfortable to use--and you'll need it, take our word for it.

Also on the back are shortcut and red video buttons. To the right of the screen is a comfy thumb rest to help keep the Canon SX30 IS steady. You'll also find a 4-way controller surrounded by a jog wheel for making menu adjustments. The points of the compass give you quick access to exposure compensation, ISO (1,600 maximum), self-timer, and focus (normal, macro, and manual). The center Function/Set key gets you into various menus depending on the main mode setting chosen. Surprisingly, the flash adjustment is not here, but on the left of the flash itself. Menu and Display keys are below the controller. Press the Display key for more than a second and the LCD brightens up, a nice feature. Another excellent addition is the Zoom Framing Assist on the top right (more on this in a bit) along with Playback and AF Frame Selector/Delete keys.

On the right side of the Canon SX30 is a compartment for the USB/AV Out and mini HDMI out, while a speaker is on the left. The bottom of the Made-in-Japan Canon SX30 has a metal tripod mount and a door that covers the slot for the lithium-ion battery and an SD memory card.

Lens. The Canon PowerShot SX30 has a 35x optical zoom with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 24-840mm. Yes, it's a ridiculous amount, but who are we to complain? The extreme wide-angle is great for landscapes, buildings and group shots. Checking out details from about a mile away is the province of the 840mm tele option. And, of course, there's up to 4x digital zoom boost if you want go even further. The Canon zoom has 13 elements in 10 groups, one Hi-UD lens, one UD lens as well as one double-side aspherical lens. The camera has Canon's optical Image Stabilizer to help cut down on blur, a real plus for extreme telephoto shots.

Controls. No one will have a problem picking up the Canon SX30 IS and firing away. All of the key controls are logically positioned and a brief scan of the Owner's Manual on the CD-ROM will quickly explain any puzzling icons such as Zoom Assist on the rear top right. I would've liked a jog wheel on the front of the grip, as on the PowerShot G12, but you can't have everything.

Modes. The Canon SX30 is as easy to use as you'd like, or as complex. You can change contrast, sharpness, color saturation and even skin tones, and you can control the major parameters including aperture, shutter speed, and focus along with ISO sensitivity (80-1,600). Canon's Smart Auto chooses among 28 options to "guess" the subject in front of it. Like other companies' Intelligent Auto offerings, it does a good job in this point-and-shoot mode and it can choose from many more options than the competition.

With Program Auto (P) you can change several parameters including ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation in 1/3 EV steps (+/- 2 EV), white balance (8 options), metering (multi, center, spot), bracketing, burst mode (1.3 fps at full resolution), flash level and resolution. With Tv (Shutter speed priority) you have options ranging from 15 seconds to 1/3,200 second. A cool-looking sliding scale and nostalgic match needle display appears when you make your adjustments on the Canon SX30 IS; the same holds true in Av (Aperture Priority) with options from f/2.7-8.0.

With Manual (M) you can adjust aperture and shutter speed with the jog dial; you move between them by tapping exposure compensation on the 4-way controller. That's a bit of a head-scratcher, but who said everything or anyone is perfect? You also have C1 and C2 on the Mode dial, so you can save Custom parameters that you'd like to recall at a moment's notice.

In addition to the three Scene modes on the Mode dial, you can turn to the SCN (Scene) icon, where you'll have access to 14 choices such as Smart Shutter, Snow, Fireworks and so on. A Low Light scene mode captures 2-megapixel images at up to ISO 6,400.

Finally, the Canon SX30 IS captures high-def videos using the H.264 MOV format (1,280 x 720p pixel videos at 30 fps). Lower resolutions are available such as 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 along with a Miniature option. A plus is the linear PCM stereo sound. Audio recording level can be automatic or manually adjusted, and there's also a wind filter option. Optical zoom and optical image stabilization are supported during video recording.

Menus. If you've seen a Canon menu system during the past few years, there are no surprises in the Canon SX30 IS. It's a simple tabular format that's easy to follow and understand. The basic parameters are available when you hit Menu. When you want to adjust the settings for a specific mode, you press the Func/Set button in the middle of the 4-way controller. Function Menu options appear on the left and bottom borders of the LCD display. Most of the adjustments require common photographic sense. Others need a quick trip to the Owner's Manual. Even so, an advanced degree in particle physics is not required to use the Canon SX30's menu system.

Playback. Press the Playback button on the right rear of the Canon SX30 IS and you can review your shots. You can move through them one at a time by turning the controller dial and enlarge them by using the zoom toggle switch. You can review your videos as well. There are slideshow options, the ability to jump 10 or 100 shots, and so on. It would be nice if the screen had the higher resolution of the G12 (461K) but no camera is perfect.

Storage and Battery. Unlike many mega-zooms, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS uses a lithium-ion battery rather than 4 AAs; it's CIPA rated for 370 shots on a charge using the LCD monitor, or 400 shots using the electronic viewfinder. The camera accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC cards as well as MultiMedia, MMCplus and HC MMCplus media. You should always use higher-speed, higher-capacity cards for high-megapixel cameras that shoot HD videos. At least a Class 6 4GB or 8GB edition will suffice.

 

Shooting with the Canon SX30 IS

I've used many mega-zoom digital cameras but never one with a 35x zoom. Let me tell you, it really changes how and what you think you'll shoot. I'm swimming in my element with 24mm wide-angle photography, but 840mm? It really changed what I thought I should or could capture--especially since if you're used to 140mm, you can get six times closer. As Captain Willard said in Apocalypse Now, the Canon SX30 IS really put the zap on my head. Before revisiting more old movie memories, let's talk about the recent days, i.e. the past few weeks with the Canon SX30 IS while visiting Cambridge, Massachusetts and steeplechase horse races in New Jersey among other sites.


24-840mm. From this good wide shot, I was able to zoom in close enough to identify this sculler. Though the zoomed image looks a little soft and noisy at 100% onscreen, it actually makes a quite usable 11x14-inch print.

Before getting into the results, I will say that shooting with the Canon SX30 IS is a blast. The focal range is amazing. As for basic handling and ergonomics, the Canon SX30 IS is relatively simple to use, but there are some pretty dramatic handling issues concerning the extreme telephoto, which I'll detail shortly. I did all of my shooting at the 4,320 x 3,240 pixel JPEG level (there is no RAW option). I started with Auto, and moved through the Mode dial. All movies were shot at the best setting (720p). When done, I made full-bleed 8x10 prints with no post processing and viewed movies on a 50-inch plasma HDTV using a mini HDMI cable. Photos were closely examined (100% plus) on my monitor.

Shooting with the Canon SX30 IS changes the way you see. My eyes are pretty good (with the appropriate specs when required), but I'm not eagle-eyed. When I was shooting some scullers on the Charles River near Harvard, I was drawn to the overall scene--river, trees, sky, boat wake, and colors. I shot that. Then I hit the zoom lever and all of a sudden, the rower and his jersey--which I could hardly see with my eyes--filled the frame. Wow! The same thing happened when I shot the other side of the bridge. The 24mm gave me a nice scenic, but then I could get a close-up of the moon at extreme telephoto, which was barely in view at full wide-angle. Wow again.

Full gallop.

When I took the Canon SX30 IS to the race track, I was similarly knocked out. From an attractive wide-angle, I then could capture horses galloping at the far turn. Standing on the second level, I had a nice overhead view of a colorful buffet table. Zooming in, I got close-ups of the cookies on a tray. Not to belabor the point, but this camera will change what you shoot--even what you think you can shoot. You'll go zoom crazy as I did just experimenting with the focal range.

Long shot. A full-telephoto shot. The plane of focus is on the right side his moustache, but the image produces a good 8x10 with no trouble.

Now changing the way you see is one thing, but actually using the camera is another. I did find the zoom operation wasn't as smooth as it should be, because it seemed to get stuck as I moved from 24-840mm. This was annoying, as the camera seemed to struggle traversing the focal range. Then there's the bigger issue of keeping your subject in the frame at extreme telephoto. I did not shoot with a tripod; I rested my elbows on wide railings for support in most instances. With my eye firmly placed against the viewfinder, I appreciated the soft pad surrounding it. At 840mm, if your subject moves a fraction and you're not panning properly, it's gone. I found myself taking the camera from my face just to find where the heck it was. Then I realized Canon put a Zoom Framing Assist button on the back just for this reason. Tap it and the camera zooms back so you can find your quarry. Hit it again and hopefully it hasn't moved in the interim and the lens goes back to your original setting. This is useful but not really geared for photographing horses rushing to the finish line, or other speedy subjects. Again I will admit to not being a huge telephoto aficionado, so I'm sure this skill could be mastered in time. The points of this exposition are two: the telephoto capabilities of this camera are outstanding, and there's definitely a learning curve to making the most of it.


Shoot the moon. More amazing was capturing a shot of the moon at full telephoto near dusk handheld. Download the bottom image and you can see craters, it's so sharp. Noise suppression stomps on some of the low-contrast areas across the front of the orb, and the atmosphere might have a little to do with that too, but it's a first to get this much detail out of the lunar landscape without a tripod.

As you'd imagine with a telephoto this powerful, image stabilization is a critical feature. Canon gets kudos for implementing an excellent system. My faraway subjects barely had a hint of blur. I would recommend bracing yourself and the camera as best you can if you're not shooting with a tripod. Still I was impressed by the handheld results.

Although the Canon SX30 IS may look like a DSLR, it definitely doesn't have the response of that type of camera. I was able to grab some crisp shots of horses galloping by, but they were really one-offs. The camera is rated at 1.3 fps in full resolution burst mode, so don't expect to get a sequence of moving subjects. After all, this is a $399 all-in-one so one can't expect miracles.

The Canon SX30 IS has an articulating LCD and unless you're Iron Man or never had a caffeinated drink, you won't use it at extreme telephoto. At wide-angle, it's fun as you can shoot unusual angles. Although the screen is rated 230K pixels I didn't find this to be a drawback although 460K would have been nice. The screen works well even in direct sunshine; hit the Display button and it will instantly brighten, if you have any issues. The EVF is a bit small but fairly standard--nothing great, nothing horrible--it does a workmanlike job.

Far turn. This video starts out at not quite full telephoto, then zooms to full, where it's almost impossible to track the subject.

The Canon SX30 has a 14-megapixel CCD sensor, and if you've read reviews of cameras with similar resolution, you won't be surprised at the results. At lower ISOs (80 to 200) detail is good with best quality at 100 ISO. ISO 800 is a little soft but it probably makes a good 8x10; at ISO 1,600 you could get away with a 5x7 (see our Print Quality section below for more). I found this to be the case with my 8x10-inch prints made with no post-processing. I've been a fan for a long time of the color output of Canon's better point-and-shoots and the SX30 lived up to that standard. Purple fringing could be an issue with extreme telephotos. It was there at 100% enlargements onscreen but wasn't noticeable on 8x10s.

Moon movie. This is what it's like trying to hold a distant subject stable at full-telephoto. This video also demonstrates the Zoom Framing Assist button, which backs off on the subject enough for you to reacquire.

Our lab also found noticeable chromatic aberration (C.A.) at wide-angle but would only likely affect images printed 11x14 or larger. C.A. is also present at telephoto, extending far into the frame, but it's much less noticeable here. Tungsten white balance is too pink in our Indoor Portrait test while Auto and Manual settings get it pretty close. Macro delivers an extremely sharp image at the center with strong C.A. radiating out from the center. Shutter lag at wide-angle is about average (see below for more test details).

The movies taken by the Canon SX30 IS are a solid 720p HD and the optical zoom is functional while recording. After shooting at the racetrack I could readily understand why many of the TV cameras you see at sporting events are affixed to the ground on massive tripods. In other words, expect some shaky videos at extreme telephoto if you're hand-holding the camera.

See below for our image quality analysis, and look for our Pro/Con and Conclusion below that.

 

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Blurry at upper left
Medium: Sharp at center
Medium: Mild blurring, upper left corner
20x: A hint soft at center
20x: Mild blurring at upper left
35x: Sharp at center
35x: Stronger blurring, upper left corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot SX30's zoom shows some blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see in the center, and blurring extends rather far into the main image area. At full 35x telephoto, blurring is also fairly strong, though it doesn't interfere as much with the main image area. Results are better at the medium focal length and 20x settings.


Wide: Very slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Medium: Also barely any barrel distortion
20x: Slightly higher barrel distortion, though still barely visible
35x: A tiny amount of pincushion distortion, again barely visible

Geometric Distortion: The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS controls geometric distortion quite well throughout the zoom range. We noticed only 0.2% barrel distortion at full wide-angle, which is quite indistinct. Even at full 35x telephoto, we only measured about 0.1% pincushion distortion. Clearly, the SX30's processor is hard at work here.


Wide: High and bright
Medium: Low
20x: Moderate
35x: High and fairly bright

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is a little high in terms of pixel count, and pixels are very bright. The effect isn't as strong at the medium focal length and 20x setting, but becomes stronger at full 35x telephoto.


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Canon PowerShot SX30's Macro mode captures fairly sharp details in the dollar bill, though the brooch and coins are somewhat soft. Blurring is noticeable in the corners of the frame, as is some chromatic aberration, which is a common limitation among consumer digital cameras in macro mode. Exposure is also quite uneven at this close range, with strong overexposure along the left side. Minimum coverage area is 1.69 x 1.27 inches (43 x 32mm), which is quite good. The camera focuses so closely that the flash is almost completely blocked by the lens.


 

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: EVF
20x: EVF
Wide: LCD
20x: LCD

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot SX30's EVF and LCD monitor showed just over 100% coverage accuracy at wide-angle, and about 101% at 20x telephoto, which is a little loose but still quite good.


 

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Image Quality


Color: Overall color looks good, though bright yellows are somewhat muted, and strong reds, blues, and yellow-greens are a little brighter than life. Hue is also a little off for colors like yellow, orange, and cyan. Dark skintones are just a little warm, while lighter skin tones show a small shift toward magenta. Still, good results overall.


Auto WB:
Good, though slightly red
Incandescent WB:
Too pink
 
Manual WB:
Very good

Incandescent: Manual white balance handled our Indoor Portrait test scene much better than the Tungsten setting, which came out much too pink. Auto produced better results than average, though with a slight reddish tint.


Horizontal: 1,850 lines
Vertical: 1,850 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,850 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,300 lines per picture height.


Wide: Very bright
Tele: A bit dim
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) doesn't work well at wide-angle when the reported distance goes beyond 16 feet, because that takes the camera out of the main lab, so the wide-angle result is somewhat inconclusive, though very bright. The telephoto test came out just a little dim, despite an ISO increase to 250.

Auto flash produced bright results in our indoor portrait scene, retaining some of the ambient light by using a slower shutter speed of 1/20 second, and raising ISO to 259. The Canon PowerShot SX30's image stabilization should help with the slower shutter speed, but any subject movement could be problematic at this shutter speed.


80
100
200
400
800
1,600

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is good at ISO 80 and 100, with some visible softening beginning as early as ISO 200. Chroma (color) noise remains pretty well controlled at all ISOs, though luminance noise becomes more noticeable from ISO 400 on up. Noise suppression efforts also play a part, blurring fine details, so that results at ISO 1,600 are quite fuzzy. See Printed results below for more on how this affects prints.


Printed: ISO 80 and 100 shots look good printed at up to 16x24 inches. Color is bright and detail is good.

ISO 200 shots are slightly fuzzy at 16x24 inches, but look better at 13x19 inches. There is some luminance noise in the shadows at this size, but it's not bad. Reduction to 11x14 really tightens up detail and shadow noise.

ISO 400 images are a little too soft at 11x14 inches, but look surprisingly good at 8x10.

ISO 800 shots are soft at 8x10, with smoky shadows. It's usable, but I prefer 5x7-inch prints.

ISO 1,600 files are a little soft at 5x7, but there's very little noise, and color looks good. Printing at 4x6 sharpens up the detail nicely.

Overall, the Canon SX30 IS does better than we expected, producing better-than-usable shot at all ISO settings. Prints from several of the gallery images also showed better quality than the onscreen image implied. For the tricks it performs, the Canon SX30 turns out a surprisingly good image.


 

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Performance


Startup Time: The Canon SX30 takes about 2.5 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's quite good for an ultra-zoom model.


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is about average, at 0.58 second at wide-angle and 0.68 second at full telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.075 second, quite fast.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is average for the Long-zoom category, but sluggish compared to most other cameras, capturing a frame every 2.87 seconds in single-shot mode. Canon rates the SX30's full-resolution burst mode at 1.3 frames per second, which is also sluggish.


Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot SX30's flash recycles in about 4.7 seconds after a full-power discharge, which is pretty good.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to just above the 1/8 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot SX30's download speeds are pretty fast. We measured 7,840 KBytes/second.


 

In the Box

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS ships with the following items in the box:

  • Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
  • Neck Strap
  • Plug-in Battery Charger CB-2LZ/CB-2LZE
  • Battery Pack NB-7L
  • USB and A/V Cables
  • Lens cap and attachment string
  • Case for Hot Shoe Cap
  • Getting Started Guide
  • Software CD-ROM

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity, high-speed Class 6+ SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card. 4 to 8GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity.

 

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Unreal 35x Canon zoom lens (24-840mm)
  • Attractive design
  • Quality 720p HD movie mode with stereo sound
  • Very good Optical Image Stabilization
  • Zoom Framing Assist button makes reacquiring a subject easier
  • Smart Auto works well (28 options)
  • Very good color reproduction
  • 2.7-inch vari-angle LCD (230K dots)
  • Electronic viewfinder (202K dots) with -4 to +1 diopter adjustment
  • Accepts 67mm diameter filters with adapter
  • Hot shoe for optional external flashes
  • Relatively fast flash recycle
  • Camera zooms optically while recording video
  • Simple, understandable menu system
  • Very good printed results
  • Focus-assist lamp
  • Very low geometric distortion
  • Auto white balance does a good job with indoor tungsten lighting
  • Uneven zoom operation
  • No RAW option
  • Only 1.3 fps in full-res continuous mode
  • LCD should be more than 230K dots
  • Small electronic viewfinder compared to past models
  • Mild vignetting at full telephoto
  • Some unintuitive controls
  • Sometimes difficult to keep a subject framed at full telephoto
  • Fairly strong chromatic aberration at wide-angle and full telephoto
  • Lens hood is optional


At around $399, the Canon PowerShot SX30 is not the most affordable Mega Zoom available. Yet it's currently the second most powerful optically in this class (the recently announced Nikon P500 is the first, at 36x). It's hard to appreciate the 35x 24-840mm zoom without seeing it for yourself--it is amazing--and you'll go zoom crazy just as I did. Once you get that under control you'll find the Canon SX30 IS is a very good camera that takes quality photographs using Smart Auto or the many manual options available. Movies with stereo sound are an added plus.

The camera isn't perfect--no digicam is--with its uneven zoom transit speed, relatively pokey frames-per-second response and other negatives detailed earlier. All that on the table, I have no problems recommending the Canon SX30. Get ready to see things very differently. The Canon PowerShot SX30 is a Dave's Pick.


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