Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Review

The Canon SX30 IS is the successor of the SX20 IS, which was released in 2009 and was itself an upgrade to the SX10 IS, which was released in 2008. When compared to the SX20 IS, Canon has once again increased the resolution ever so slightly. This time, the company upgraded the CCD sensor in the SX30 from twelve megapixels to fourteen megapixels, but the end result is still processed by Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processor.

The SX20’s 20x optical zoom lens has been replaced with a jaw-dropping 35x optical zoom lens, which offers focal lengths ranging from a generous 24mm wide-angle to a “don’t-you-need-a-tripod?” 840mm-equivalent telephoto. The SX20’s 20x optical zoom lens has been replaced with a 35x optical zoom lens. This lens consists of one high-index / ultra-low-dispersion lens element in addition to one ultra-low dispersion ultra-high index lens element.

It is indicated by the “IS” in the SX30 IS’s name that it incorporates Canon’s Image Stabilization technology, which helps combat the effects of blur caused by camera shake. It is said to be Canon’s most powerful IS system, with a claimed 4.5 stop improvement, and it helps fight the effects of blur caused by camera shake. However, even with stabilization turned on, we anticipate that blurred images will be a concern when shooting at the greatest focal lengths in less than ideal lighting circumstances.

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. This button allows the user to quickly zoom the lens out if they lose track of their subject, and then zoom back in again once they’ve re-entered the subject in the image frame. In other words, the Zoom Framing Assist button allows the user to quickly zoom the lens out if they lose track of their subject. There are a total of 28 different scene modes, and the Smart Auto feature chooses the one that is most suited for the subject matter automatically.

The images are framed and evaluated on the tilt-and-swivel LCD display of the Canon SX30, which has a resolution of around 230,000 dots and is only a touch larger than the 2.5-inch panel of the Canon SX20. The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS keeps the high-definition 720p movie mode that its predecessor had, along with the ability to record stereo sound. In addition, it can shoot still images.

A movie-mode form of Smart Auto is able to identify and set the camera up for 21 various scenario types. An option called Dynamic IS, which is accessible while recording movies, seeks to lessen the amount of camera wobble that occurs when filming when the camera is moving. There is also a selection of several effects modes, such as Fish-eye, Miniature, Poster, and Super Vivid. The Miniature effect may be used not only for still photographs but also for movie recording. This has an effect on the frame rate of the movie, just like a mode that is available in some of Olympus’ cameras that is very similar to it; if the movie was recorded in miniature mode, Canon allows playback at either 6, 3, or 1.5 frames per second.

The HDMI high definition video output from the PowerShot SX20 is carried over to the PowerShot SX30 IS. The PowerShot SX30 IS now gets its power from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, as opposed to the four AA batteries that it used to rely on for power. This is an important difference between the two models. The Canon SX30 now accepts the most recent generation of SDXC cards, in addition to the SD and SDHC card storage offered by the SX20. Additionally, the Canon SX30 IS has just been awarded the Eye-Fi Connected certification, which indicates that it allows users access to specific administrative functions of popular WiFi-capable SD cards while the camera is in use.

Look and Feel

The majority of mega-zoom cameras have the appearance of compact digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs), but they do not allow the user to change lenses and do not provide the same level of responsiveness or image quality as DSLRs. Those are some of the drawbacks. You won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on glass in order to have the same focal range, which is a significant plus. For instance, a Nikon 600mm telephoto lens will set you back around $10,000. It is easy to understand why mega-zoom point-and-shoot cameras such as the Canon SX30 are so popular when one considers the expense of huge glass on an SLR camera.

The FinePix HS10 from Fujifilm, which retails for $500 and features a 30x optical zoom, made headlines only a year ago (24-720mm). Olympus even said that it’s $350 30x SP-800UZ was the “longest ultra zoom” in the world with its 840mm focal length. Now, with the PowerShot SX30, Canon has matched that one and even gone wider (24mm as opposed to 28mm), which is a huge advantage in our book. It’s quite incredible what this 840mm focal length can do for you, as we’ll explain in just a moment more.

The Canon SX30 IS is one of the more aesthetically pleasing Mega-Zooms because of its all-black design and beautiful, subdued finish. It doesn’t have a ton of stickers all over it, yet it still manages to look classy. You can probably guess that the 35x lens takes up most of the front, and similar to the majority of cameras of this type, you use a string to tie the lens cover to the strap. To me, this appears to be of a lower level of technology, and I prefer to keep the cap in my pocket. 67mm diameter filters may be used with this lens by attaching an optional adapter (Canon part number FA-DC67A).

Additionally, a lens hood can be purchased as a separate accessory (LH-DC60). The AF Assist/self-timer lamp and the two stereo mics that are located under the flash are the only additional features that can be seen on the front of the Canon SX30 IS, aside from a few modest logos. In comparison to other models on the market, having stereo sound is a significant advantage. The Canon SX30 IS has overall dimensions of 4.8 by 3.6 by 4.2 inches (122.29 by 92.4 by 107.7 millimeters) and a fully-loaded weight of 21.7 ounces (615g).

On top, moving from left to right, you’ll find the key for adjusting the flash, a manual flash that lifts up, and behind that, a cover that covers the hot shoe for an optional external flash. All of these features are located on the top of the camera. The ergonomic pistol grip has a mode dial, an on/off button, and the shutter button, all of which are encircled by a zoom toggle switch. This switch sits on the edge of the pistol grip.

The mode dial offers a wide variety of settings, many of which are comparable to those found on beginner DSLR cameras. There is Smart Auto, Program AE, Aperture- and Shutter-priority, complete Manual, two user-customizable settings, three standard Scene selections (Portrait, Landscape, and Sports), and Scene, which has 15 additional possibilities. There are several that are relatively conventional, but there are other effects such as Fish-eye and Miniature that are interesting, even if they are not really practical.

At long last, there is a Movie setting, despite the fact that there is a red video button on the back of the camera that may be used to swiftly capture movies without having to resort to the Mode dial. The Canon SX30 IS, much like other digital cameras, is capable of recording video in the H.264 MOV format with 1,280 by 720p resolution at 30 frames per second.

An electronic viewfinder with 202K dots and a 2.7-inch LCD screen with 230K dots are located on the back of the Canon SX30 IS. Additionally, the diopter adjustment is located on the back of the camera. Holding the Canon SX30 IS with this kind of monitor enables you to hold it at a variety of intriguing angles, like over your head or at waist level. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a rubber gasket that surrounds it, making it more pleasant to use; and believe us when we say that this is something you’ll need.

Additionally located on the rear are buttons labeled “shortcut” and “red video.” A convenient thumb rest can be found to the right of the screen on the Canon SX30 IS. This helps to keep the camera stable. In addition, there is a four-way controller that is encircled by a jog wheel for making modifications to the menu.

You get easy access to the exposure compensation, ISO (with a maximum of 1,600), the self-timer, and the focus by using the points of the compass (normal, macro, and manual). The primary mode setting determines which menus are accessible via the Function/Set key located in the middle of the device. Surprisingly, the adjustment for the flash is not located in this area but rather on the left side of the flash itself.

The Menu and Display buttons may be found underneath the controller. If you hold down the Display key for more than a second, the LCD screen will brighten, which is a useful function. Another useful feature is the Zoom Framing Assist, which may be found on the top right of the screen, alongside the Playback key and the AF Frame Selector/Delete key. (More on this feature shortly.)

The USB/AV Out and micro HDMI out ports are located in a compartment on the right side of the Canon SX30, and a speaker is located on the left side of the device. On the bottom of the Canon SX30, which was manufactured in Japan, there is a metal mount for a tripod as well as a door that conceals the slot that holds the lithium-ion battery and the SD memory card.

Lens

The Canon PowerShot SX30 features a 35x optical zoom with a focal range that is comparable to 24-840mm when shot with 35mm film. It’s true that the total is absurdly high, but who are we to complain about something like that? The extremely wide-angle lens works really well for taking pictures of landscapes, buildings, and groups of people. The 840mm telephoto lens is the one to choose if you want to examine specifics from a distance of around one mile. In addition to that, there is a digital zoom enhancement of up to 4x available in case you wish to go even closer. The Canon zoom contains thirteen components organized into ten groups, including one Hi-UD lens, one UD lens, and one aspherical lens with a double-sided surface. A significant benefit of this camera is the use of Canon’s optical Image Stabilizer, which helps to reduce blur while shooting at extremely long focal lengths.

Controls

It shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to pick up the Canon SX30 IS and start shooting away with it. The positions of all of the important controls make sense, and a quick look through the owner’s manual that is included on the CD-ROM will quickly clarify any icons that could be confusing, such as the Zoom Assist symbol that is located on the back, top right. The PowerShot G12 has a jog wheel on the front of the handle, which is something I would have loved to have on this camera as well, but alas, you can’t have everything.

Modes

You may make the Canon SX30 as simple or as complicated to operate as you desire. You have control over the most important aspects of the photograph, such as the aperture, the shutter speed, the focus, and the ISO sensitivity. You may adjust the contrast, the sharpness, the color saturation, and even the skin tones (80-1,600). The Canon Smart Auto feature “guesses” the subject in front of it by selecting one of 28 possible responses. It performs admirably in the point-and-shoot mode, just like the Intelligent Auto offerings of other firms, and it has access to a significantly wider range of settings than its rivals do.

You have the ability to make adjustments to a number of parameters when you use Program Auto (P), such as the ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation in 1/3 EV steps (+/- 2 EV), white balance (with eight different options), metering (multi, center, spot), bracketing, burst mode (1.3 fps at full resolution), flash level, and resolution. You have options ranging from 15 seconds all the way up to 1/3,200 of a second when you use Tv (Shutter speed priority). When you make changes on the Canon SX30 IS, a cool-looking sliding scale and a throwback match needle display show; the same is true in Av (Aperture Priority), with selections ranging from f/2.7-8.0.

Adjusting aperture and shutter speed is possible with the jog dial while using the Manual (M) mode. To switch between the two modes, use the exposure compensation button on the four-way controller. That does raise a few eyebrows, but who is to say that anything or anything is flawless to begin with? You may also store any custom settings that you’d want to be able to quickly access by using the C1 and C2 buttons that are located on the Mode dial.

In addition to the three Scene modes that are located on the Mode dial, you may also access an additional 14 options by turning the Mode dial’s SCN (Scene) indicator. These options include Smart Shutter, Snow, Fireworks, and many others. A Low Light scene mode may record photographs at a maximum resolution of 2 megapixels and an ISO of 6,400.

In conclusion, the Canon SX30 IS is capable of recording high-definition films in the MOV H.264 format (1,280 x 720p pixel videos at 30 fps). In addition to the Miniature option, you can select a resolution that is as low as 640 pixels by 480 pixels or 320 pixels by 240 pixels. The linear PCM stereo sound is a definite advantage. The volume of the audio recording may be set automatically or modified manually, and there is also the option to apply a wind filter. During the recording process, support is provided for optical zoom as well as optical image stabilization.

Menus

There are no unexpected features in the Canon SX30 IS menu system if you have experience with other Canon cameras over the previous few years. It is laid down in a straightforward tabular fashion that is straightforward and simple to comprehend. When you press the Menu button, the fundamental settings will become accessible. You will need to click the Func/Set button, which is located in the center of the 4-way controller, whenever you wish to alter the settings for a certain mode. LCD displays often provide choices for the Function Menu on the left and bottom edges of the panel. The majority of the alterations involve photographic sensibility on your part. Others will need to consult the Owner’s Manual for a moment. To operate the menu system of the Canon SX30, however, you do not need a degree in particle physics from a prestigious university.

Playback

You may examine your photographs by pressing the Playback button, which is located on the right side of the rear of the Canon SX30 IS. You may navigate through each one individually by rotating the controller dial, and you can magnify any of them by using the toggle switch for the zoom function. You also have the option to evaluate your own videos. There are choices for a slideshow, as well as the ability to skip 10 or 100 photos at a time, etc. Even while it would be good if the screen had a better resolution than the G12 (461K), it is important to remember that no camera is flawless.

Both the Storage and the Battery The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS is not like other mega-zooms since it utilizes a lithium-ion battery instead of four AA batteries. According to the CIPA, it is rated for 370 shots on a charge when using the LCD display and 400 shots when using the electronic viewfinder. In addition to SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, the camera is compatible with MultiMedia, MMCplus, and HC MMCplus media. When shooting high-definition video with a high-megapixel camera, you should always use a card with a faster speed and a bigger capacity. A Class 6 version with at least 4 or 8 gigabytes of storage will do the trick.

Quality of the Image

During the course of our evaluation, the Canon PowerShot SX30 has generated photographs of a quality that was far higher than typical. Noise is the primary disadvantage of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS in terms of image quality; at an ISO setting of 400, the camera displays some noise along with blurring of details and a small desaturation of colors. As the ISO is increased, noise and loss of information become increasingly noticeable until you reach the highest possible value of 1600.

In conditions with high contrast, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS handled chromatic aberrations quite competently, producing purple and green fringing effects that were well-controlled but ubiquitous. The 14-megapixel images came out of the camera with the default sharpening setting and were just a little bit soft. If you want the images to be sharper, you will either need to sharpen them further in an application like Adobe Photoshop or you will need to increase the level of sharpening that is done in-camera.

The nighttime shot turned out quite well, and the fact that the maximum shutter speed was 15 seconds meant that you were able to catch sufficient light for almost any scenario. Even though there is a lot of lens distortion and shadows at such a short distance, the performance of the camera’s macro mode is a standout highlight, allowing you to focus as close to the subject as 0 centimeters away from the object of your photograph. The built-in flash did a fantastic job indoors, producing images free of red-eye and with enough exposure overall. When utilizing the telephoto end of the extremely wide zoom range or when holding the camera by hand in low-light settings, the 4.5-stop anti-shake mechanism works very effectively to keep blurry images from being captured.

ISO

Noise and Detail: Detail is good at ISO 80 and 100, with some obvious softening appearing as early as ISO 200. Noise levels continue to increase as the ISO value increases. At all of the different ISO settings, the chroma (color) noise is kept relatively well under control, however, the luminance noise starts to become more visible around ISO 400. The attempts that were made to reduce noise also play a factor, and these efforts muddy fine features, which is why the results at ISO 1,600 are rather fuzzy. See the section below titled “Printed outcomes” for further information on how this impacts prints.

Specifications

Body typeSLR-like (bridge)
Max resolution4320 x 3240
Other resolutions3744 x 2104, 3072 x 2304, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 320 x 240
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels14 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ProcessorDigic 4
ISOAuto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
Focal length (equiv.)24–840 mm
Optical zoom35×
Maximum apertureF2.7–5.8
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range0 cm (0″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size2.7″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeElectronic
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/3200 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range6.80 m
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Fill-in
Continuous drive0.6 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30, 15 fps)
FormatMotion JPEG
MicrophoneStereo
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC/MMCplus/HC MMCplus
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-7L rechargeable battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)601 g (1.32 lb / 21.20 oz)
Dimensions123 x 92 x 108 mm (4.84 x 3.62 x 4.25″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo
GPSNone

Conclusion

In terms of sheer focal length, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS leaves rival super-zooms behind in its wake. With settings that range from 24 millimeters wide-angle to 840 millimeters telephoto, this camera offers more than enough adaptability to fulfill the requirements of the vast majority of individuals. Thank goodness, the engineers at Canon have also developed a highly efficient image-stabilization technology.

This, in conjunction with respectably bright maximum apertures, helps to keep the bulk of your images crisp. The official price increase puts it in direct competition with other premium super-zooms, entry-level DSLRs, and compact system cameras. Unfortunately, the longer lens and move to a 14-megapixel sensor don’t do the SX30’s image quality any favors, especially in low-light situations. Additionally, the SX30 is now in direct competition with other premium super-zooms.

There is presently no other small camera that can compete with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-ability HX90V’s to record high-definition video in 720p resolution and include image stabilization, stereo sound, and the capacity to make full use of its astounding 35x zoom. Unfortunately, the situation isn’t quite as bright when it comes to the SX30’s still shots. Even at the relatively low speed of ISO 400, there is noise and a loss of fine detail in the photos taken by the camera.

It appears that the shift to additional megapixels has caused a sacrifice in the overall image quality at higher ISO speeds, hence reducing this camera’s capacity to function in low-light conditions. Another issue that has to be addressed is the increased visibility of chromatic aberrations, which appear as unattractive purple and green spots anywhere there is a region of the image that contains a lot of contrast.

As was the case with the SX20, several important features have been thoughtfully preserved. These include the LCD screen’s ability to tilt and swivel, a dedicated record button for instant video clips, an electronic viewfinder, and an external hot-shoe. These features combine to make the SX30 IS an appealing digital camera for the enthusiastic hobbyist, especially given the availability of a full range of manual shooting modes.

The only snag is that there is still no RAW file format available, which forces would-be Canon customers to purchase either the G12 or the S95 because those are the only Canon compacts that are now capable of shooting in RAW format. There are a number of competing super-zoom cameras that also support RAW, the most notable of which being the Panasonic FZ45, Fujifilm HS10, and Olympus SP-590 UZ; thus, if this is an essential feature, there are other options available within the same category.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Flash Shoe Attachment External
  • Image Stabilization
  • Screen That Can Be Moved Around
  • Screen That Can Be Moved Around
  • High Shutter Speed of 1/3200 of a Second
Need Improvement
  • No Full HD Video
  • No Wireless Connection
  • No RAW Shooting
  • No Touch Screen

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