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Canon PowerShot SX30 IS - Design and Features

By Gavin Stoker

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

With design cues taken from a digital SLR, the SX30 IS appears to be the same as any conventional bridge camera at first glance, once all the rage as a DSLR alternative until mirror-less compact system cameras, such as the Olympus Pens and Panasonic GF series, came along to offer a further choice.

Almost everything about this camera is writ large, including the chunky shooting mode dial, shutter release button and surrounding lever for operating that whopper of a zoom. There's even a full-size hotshoe hidden beneath a cover and set back from the pop up flash. An equally big and obvious dedicated record button for shooting video sits top right of the LCD screen, which as well as being angle adjustable can be tilted screen inward to the body for added protection when the SX30 IS isn't in use. Rather disappointing, however, is that its screen resolution is only 230k dots, when twice that would have been more commensurate with the outlay being asked here.

We managed to fit three fingers around the Canon's handgrip, with plenty of room between our knuckles and the lens barrel, but it disappoints slightly in not featuring rubber padding or more effective finger moulding. Our fingers tended to slip about a bit on its non roughened surface - not what's required when you're trying to hold the camera rock steady for a telephoto shot.

For operation that is both smooth and silent the SX30 IS' lens has been equipped with a USM (Ultrasonic) motor, and here users can also take advantage of what Canon refers to as its Zoom Framing Assist function.

As anyone who's tried it knows, when you're zoomed in fully trying to track a moving subject there's the chance it will go out of frame and you'll have to pull back slightly to locate it again. However thanks to a dedicated shortcut button on the camera, a press of which prompts the framing to jump back to one of three preset positions, Canon has provided a time saver of sorts. Once subject is re-located and button released, the zoom jumps back to its original extended setting. We did though find ourselves accidentally hitting this control more than once, which was slightly irritating, as its location is exactly where your thumb comes to rest at the back of the camera. And, out of habit, we found ourselves more often than not just zooming in and out to re-compose the frame as necessary using the zoom lever proper.

Thankfully, courtesy of that silent motor, the full extent of the optical zoom can be utilised when shooting video (as well as stills) without ruining the audio, which isn't always the case. HDMI output is also provided under a plastic side flap alongside regular A/V and USB output, and twin stereo microphones sit unobtrusively just below the pop up flash at the front. There isn't, however, an input for an external microphone so if the onboard ones can't cope, you're stuck.

tean

January 17, 2011, 12:31 pm

Gavin,





I am afraid *30 zoom is not my type of camera even though this camera actually produces quite good images. I already have my Lumix FZ35.





Is Cliff Smith still on holidays?

Ed

January 17, 2011, 2:24 pm

@tean: Cliff Smith no longer works with us.

Carnex

January 17, 2011, 3:22 pm

They should really put bigger sensor into this camera since it has quite a big price for a non-interchangeable lenses camera. With better sensors quite a few amateurs would switch to it.


This way it looks like a wasted potential for a truly great jack of all trades camera.

Metalex

January 17, 2011, 3:55 pm

Your ISO performance comparison pages are beginning to let these reviews down.





As another user mentioned in the D7000 review, your use of the phrase "full frame" is definitely a bit misleading. In this review, some your 100% crops are referred to as "full frame", but when you show the entire final photo, that too is referred to as being the "full frame". Why don't you simply refer to the crops as "100% crops", as most other review sites would? It seems you're trying to dumb down for the benefit of the average, non-enthusiast consumer, but you're only confusing matters.





In this particular review, the area you've chosen for the 100% crop seems to be the worst possible area for evaluating ISO, as it has such a lack of contrast. The are barely any shadow areas, so it's impossible to evaluate this particular aspect of ISO performance. The photo as a whole also lacks a wide range of colour, which is pretty important for evaluating ISO performance.

Simon40

January 18, 2011, 1:42 am

I'm not one to gripe,but I have to agree with Metalex with regards to the iso/noise test.


Simply impossible to ascertain detail/noise/saturation etc from the chosen area of crop and indeed the choice of subject for a noise test was bizzare! Not much of a mention with regards to dynamic range,or lack of either- though the outdoor shot kinda told its own story!


I may be wrong here,but I wouldn't mind guessing that most "bridge" camera users don't require more than 10mp. This obsession with manufacturers to "stay ahead of the game" with regards numbers is crazy. Fujifilm's HS20 due out soon is 16mp!!! WHY???


Buyers want clean,low noise images with good dynamic range. We are not printing images up to the size of a house!!

outdoorman136

January 18, 2011, 11:11 pm

Bought this camera on 4 Jan. Absolutely delighted as it meets my expectations. Have been taking photos for 45 years with the usual slr's, zooms etc and a rucksack to carry (or lug around) the gear. Searched for something which dispensed with all the hassle (prefer to travel light these days) and finally found this camera after checking out in depth the Sony, Panasonic and Fuji. This is a solid camera which does the job both regarding photos and video. My Sony camcorder is now redundant. The IS is amazing. Just returned from taking photos of moon using 35x and 75x (the 140x was not sharp enough) hand held without tripod. The results are amazing. I am a bird man (feathered type) and this does the job very well. Bought for £356 from John Lewis and have claimed back £40 from Canon, although this offer may have now closed. In the right conditions there is no need to adjust in a photoshop type software. Any questions, queries just ask will be please to help out.

Cliff

January 18, 2011, 11:22 pm

Thanks for your feedback. What we caption as a full res crop is a section of the original shot, displayed at full pixel-per-pixel resolution in the article. While some pictures are resized to fit into the page, the pictures behind the "Click to enlarge" message are displayed at full resolution in the browser.





As to the point about the ISO demo not being the best shots for the purpose of the demonstration, we will change this to provide a better illustration. This feedback came through after the next article to be published on TR was written, but we have taken note and hope you will notice the difference in future reviews.

MBS

January 19, 2011, 11:46 pm

I have an SX10 that has worked well and provided good service. It seems that the earlier review of the SX10 was more overall positive than the review of the current model SX30. I am curious as to others' impressions of the comparison. One thought is that perhaps the sensor was in some ways preferable on the SX10 (smaller less jam packed with pixels)?

GulfFish

January 21, 2011, 9:15 pm

Very accurate review. I tried the SX30 for three weeks and returned it to Amazon. Poor image quality, cheep feel and over priced. My Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 is still the champ!

Diva of Deception

August 2, 2011, 8:24 pm

On Sunday my Canon Powershot S3 IS died on me :( I take a lot of photos of performance on stage, without flash. I need a camera to replace mine which I loved. I am numberphobic! So I can't handle a SLR - this camera sounds great to me, especially with the zoom it has! Does anyone know how it performs in low light? My particular secret has been to take photos on sports setting close up as i can (12x optical) and many have been published in magazines. I edit a magazine for a club too and use all my photos for that... so......
Is this the camera for me? Please let me know - and if not, what would you recommend instead?

ibrahim

October 21, 2011, 11:29 am

Hi,
I would like to know if the canon SX30 IS has manual zooming... like if i want to zoom on something specific....

And also could you recomend me if there is any other camera <$400 which is better than the canon SX30 IS...

thanks,
Ibrahim

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