Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Review

The low-light performance of mega-zoom digital cameras isn’t quite as excellent as that of other digital cameras, but there’s nothing better for zooming in on something that’s really far away. Although Canon has been a player in this game for quite some time, I have never considered its mega zooms to be among my favorites. Olympus was a pioneer in the development of the very first long zoom lenses, and the company still makes some intriguing designs today. Since the days of the 18x zoom, however, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Casio, Canon, and Nikon have all entered the competition.

It’s not that there was anything wrong with Canon’s image quality; rather, the experience of using Canon mega zooms was just not as pleasurable as using other brands’ models. Canon is putting up a fight for the league lead with the release of the SX40 HS. It’s possible that Canon devotees didn’t mind the shortcomings of its predecessors, but the Canon SX40 HS is a camera that everyone who’s interested in a mega zoom need to take into consideration. It was a wonderful adventure to take part in.

Look and Feel. Sculpted is the adjective that best describes it. Sculpted like an EOS digital single-lens reflex camera, in point of fact, with those natural shoulders from Brooks Brothers. Mad guys. You don’t even worry about individual components like a grip or the controls because the Canon SX40 fits the hand so well and is so comfortable. It’s all just one extremely lovely sculpture on its whole.

Even when compared to other compact mega zooms, the Canon SX40 is still too large to fit in a pocket, despite the fact that it has a very small footprint. It has a square shape. On one axis is the lens, and on the other is the body of the camera. However, you won’t mind swinging the Canon SX40 from your shoulder or wrist since it’s attached to either of those. It looks excellent. Everywhere you look, form and function may be found.

In point of fact, the eyelet for the shoulder strap is the only component that does not pass the design test. It is deftly integrated into the body so that it does not protrude, but much like the other eyelets on Canon cameras, it has pointed edges that pose a risk of the strap becoming frayed.


Even though I’m not usually a fan of power buttons, I didn’t have any problems with the one that was on the SX40 HS. Thankfully, it is not little, which means that you can locate it (even if you do have to look for it next to the Mode dial).

The power of the camera may be turned on and off with the Playback button. The Playback button on certain cameras may be used to activate the camera (so that you can view your photographs without extending the lens), but you are unable to turn off the camera using this button. It wasn’t until I used the Playback button on the SX40 HS that I realized how much of an annoyance it was to me. It has a more ingenious layout.

The Shutter button and the Zoom lever functioned together extremely efficiently and effectively; it seemed almost natural. There are two speeds available for the Zoom control. When you press it just a tiny bit, the zoom level will gradually increase. When you press it farther, it picks up pace. Excellent for use in the video.

The addition of Movie buttons on the rear of a camera is not something that appeals to me either. When I first start recording a video, I don’t want to have to move the camera in front of me (or lower it). However, there is not enough space on the upper deck for another button, and the one that is there is already arranged very well in a conical ring. To get there, you only have to slide your thumb a little bit more to the left. When you click the button on the rear panel of a mega-zoom camera, you use your left hand to hold the lens. This keeps the camera from falling when you hit the button.

The mode dial of the Canon SX40 is without a doubt the most attractive I’ve ever seen; it’s practically a piece of art in and of itself. I’m not sure why I’m so impressed with what amounts to little more than a Mode dial, but it certainly exudes elegance. It is bigger than most and has a lovely hollowed-out appearance. Even the bottom has a sliver of a dark red glow that’s just about noticeable. Really, Canon ought to be given some kind of prize for it.

The hot shoe of the Canon SX40 is protected from corrosion by a cover made of rubber and is located on the top of the camera. This design choice disrupts the lines of the top hump. Push the cap forward until you feel the front of it start to lift, and then pull the front up and off toward the rear of the bottle. It might be confusing at first, but it’s really very simple once you get the hang of it.

In addition, there is a user-definable Shortcut button that can be assigned to i-Contrast, White Balance, Custom White Balance, My Colors, Drive Mode, Flash Exposure Compensation/Output, Light Metering, Aspect Ratio (which happens to be my favorite), Servo AF, Powered IS, AF Lock, AE Lock, Digital Teleconverter, or Display Off.

When I used Manual, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority mode on the Canon SX40, I had a problem with the camera’s controls. A subdial is included on certain mega zooms, which may be used to choose the desired selection (aperture, shutter, or both). The Canon SX40 HS, on the other hand, utilizes the scroll wheel.

It’s a wonderful scroll wheel, but when I tried to hold it to spin it left or right to modify the aperture or shutter speed, I discovered that I inadvertently pressed in too much, which made it difficult to control. And it would set either the EV or the Focus mode, or it would activate the ISO.

The LCD is a 2.7-inch TFT color Vari-angle LCD with a broad viewing angle (which is not as crucial on an articulating screen) and roughly 230,000 dots, which is not among the finest resolutions these days. The LCD has a variable viewing angle. In point of fact, I had a hard time recognizing the presence of a soft-focus in macro images while using the LCD.


Even with the optical image stabilization turned on, the 35x optical zoom on the Canon SX40 HS camera is too powerful to be held comfortably in one hand due to its comparable focal length range of 24mm to 840mm when measured in terms of the 35mm format. When you include the 4x digital zoom, that 35x camera can now shoot at up to 140x.

We really utilized it to take a handheld shot of a loud squirrel, and we were successful in doing so by somehow guiding the camera while pressing the shutter button.

Macro caused us a lot of trouble. The range is from zero to 1.6 feet, but because the lens has a broad angle comparable to 24 millimeters, you constantly feel like you are too far away. Furthermore, when you zoom in to get the perfect, undistorted composition, you find that it is beyond the macro range of the lens.

The maximum aperture varies depending on the lens setting, going from f/2.7 for wide-angle to f/5.8 for telephoto. The slowest shutter speed that can be achieved with the Canon SX40 HS is 15 seconds while using the Shutter Priority shooting mode. The fastest shutter speed that can be achieved is one second.

Conveniently, the lens cap has a little finger on the inside that can be clipped into the shoulder strap so that it can hang from the string that it is attached to.

Menu System

You have total control over the exposure while using the Canon SX40 HS since it offers Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual modes in addition to two Custom modes that allow you to save your settings. It has a Smart Auto mode in addition to the Program mode that is available. On the Mode dial itself is shown one Scene mode (Sports), in addition to a Scene mode option that allows access to other Scene modes. The Mode slider contains a Creative Filters option as well as a Movie option.

When the Mode dial is set to TV, you may adjust the shutter speed using the scroll wheel to a value between 15 seconds and 1/3,200 of a second (with a flash-sync speed of up to 1/2000 of a second), and this value varies based on the zoom position. For shutter speeds slower than 1.3 seconds, the maximum ISO setting used is 100, and the image is processed to reduce dark frame noise. When the scene “has surpassed the correct exposure limits,” the shutter speed value displays in orange when the Shutter button is down halfway. If you enable the setting for Safety Shift in the Camera menu, the position will be adjusted for you automatically.

When the Mode dial is set to Av, you may adjust the aperture with the scroll wheel from f/2.7 all the way up to f/8.0, depending on where the zoom is currently set. When the scene “has surpassed the correct exposure limits,” the aperture value becomes orange when the Shutter button is pushed halfway. If you enable the setting for Safety Shift in the Camera menu, the position will be adjusted for you automatically.

Nighttime Handheld Photography

The Smart Auto mode, which can identify a wide range of scenarios and set up the camera appropriately for each one, is also accessible for use when recording videos.

In addition to the Sports mode, which may be found on the Mode dial, the SCN option provides access to a number of other Scene modes. These modes include Movie Digest, Portrait, Landscape, Handheld Night Scene, High-Speed Burst HQ, Smart Shutter, Low Light, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, and Stitch Assist.

Movie. In Movie mode, just like in Still mode, you have the ability to choose from a variety of shooting modes, such as Smart Auto and Manual, as well as a variety of Scene modes, such as Portrait, Landscape, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, and Color Swap. The Wind Filter menu option can help lessen the noise caused by the wind.

Image Quality of the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Camera


The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS generated a pretty acceptable color generally, but the brilliant yellows were clearly undersaturated. On the other hand, the powerful reds, blues, and certain greens were pumped a little bit (greens least of all). Although this issue is pretty typical with digital cameras, the hue is a touch wrong for hues like yellow, orange, and cyan. Darker skin tones have a tendency to lean toward yellow, whereas lighter skin tones have just a very slight tendency toward red. Overall, this was a really strong showing.


The manual white balance setting worked much better with our incandescent lighting than the Incandescent default, which produced results that were far too pink. Auto mode yielded results that were far better than normal, but with a very little pinkish cast.


The resolution chart that we had available in the lab showed that there were clear, distinct line patterns down to around 1,800 lines per image height in both directions. The pattern completely disappeared at a line density of between 2,200 and 2,400 lines per image height.


Detail and Noise: The PowerShot SX40 HS provided good detail at ISO 100 and 200, with apparent softening beginning at ISO 400 and developing from there. Noise levels were low across the camera’s sensitivity range. The chroma (color) noise is generally well managed, but it will begin to have an effect on the color as the parameters are increased. The luminance noise becomes far more noticeable, but the camera’s attempts to conceal it also rise, which leads to details being muddled. Please refer to the section under “Printed” for further information on the impact this has on prints.

In the Discrete

  • This is what’s inside the retail package:
  • The digital camera Canon SX40 HS
  • Battery pack NB-10L with cover for the terminals.
  • Charger for batteries CB-2LC and CB-2LCE
  • Cap for the lens that has a cable
  • USB cable
  • NS-DC11 shoulder strap shoulder strap
  • The argument in favor of the hot shoe cap
  • Included on the Digital Camera Solutions CD is a downloadable manual in PDF format.
  • Kit for documentation, including a handbook for getting started and a warranty card

Accessories That Come Highly Recommended

  • A spare battery pack in case your trip is very long.
  • Memory card with a large capacity for SDHC and SDXC. These days, 8 gigabytes offers a reasonable balance between price and storage space. When recording high-definition video, Canon suggests using Speed Class 6 or a faster speed.
  • Camera case


Body typeSLR-like (bridge)
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 2248, 4000 x 2664, 2992 x 2992, 2816 x 2112, 2816 x 1880, 2816 x 1584, 2112 x 2112, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 1600 x 1064, 1200 x 1200, 640 x 480, 640 x 424, 640 x 360, 480 x 480
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeBSI-CMOS
ISOAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
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-areaSelective single-pointSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive 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
Screen typePureColor II VA TFT LCD
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 range7.00 m
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Fill-in
Continuous drive10.3 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (24fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (30, 120 fps), 320 x 240 (30, 240 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-10L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)380
Weight (inc. batteries)600 g (1.32 lb / 21.16 oz)
Dimensions123 x 92 x 108 mm (4.84 x 3.62 x 4.25″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo


When you first take a look at it, the Canon SX40 HS is a really stunning camera. Once you have it in your possession, the joy of using it will quickly become apparent to you. Long after you’ve forgotten how much fun it was to compose with it, you’ll continue to appreciate the vivid colors and minute details that it catches. The specifications are a source of comfort as well. A 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor is fed by the Canon SX40’s 35x optical zoom lens, which has a focal length range of 24-840mm. This sensor enables the camera to shoot high-speed Full HD video. When framing tricky photos, the 2.7-inch articulating LCD is just what you need, while the electronic viewfinder (EVF) does the job in bright sunshine.

Taking a step back from the SX30’s 14.1-megapixel sensor enhanced the camera’s performance at high ISO settings, while upgrading to the most recent DIGIC 5 engine helped bring chromatic aberration and distortion under control.

The Canon SX40 HS is a touch heavier than comparable megazooms, and it has somewhat reduced capabilities for capturing macro subjects, but these are rather minor issues. The heaviness is a good sign that the build quality is high, and the macro functionality comes at the expense of the zoom range. The quality of the prints was another nice surprise. Even at the lowest ISO level, the camera was easily capable of creating a good 16×20-inch print, and even at the maximum setting, it produced a fantastic 4×6.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Microphones in stereo
  • The very long 35x lens also has a large field of view.
  • Excellent picture quality overall.
  • Compact and aesthetically pleasing design for the camera
need Improvement
  • Microphones in stereo
  • The very long 35x lens also has a large field of view.
  • Excellent picture quality overall.
  • Compact and aesthetically pleasing design for the camera

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