Some funky features include the colour accent mode, which can be found among the scene modes. This allows you to pick out a single colour in a scene (done by picking out the colour in an onscreen box) then reframe you scene and have the whole image appear black and white apart from the colour you chose. It works very well, though if there are similar colours on screen it will also include those, so some later image editing might still be needed. Other scenes include a colour swap mode, which does the same as above but enables you to replace the original colour with another chosen from the scene, fish eye, miniature effect, poster effect, and the usual beach, snow, etc. On the main control dial there are options for sports, landscape, and portrait, while the other scenes are selected through the menus.
Under a flap on the right side are HDMI and miniUSB sockets while a single door on the bottom covers the SD card slot and battery compartment. The battery is an NB-7L, 1050mAh, unit also used on the Canon G10.
Video recording is a cinch thanks to the dedicated button. You just tap it and recording starts near enough instantly, giving you full access to the lenses range. Stereo audio is recorded via two front facing mics hidden under the flash protrusion. This sounds like a boon over most cameras that only have mono audio but in our tests the audio didn't seem to be all that impressive with our included clip of Akbari-Kalhur making his liquid nitrogen ice cream (at the Chin Chin Labs in Camden) picking up more of the background noise than his voice. There's no external mic input either, so if you do find the audio's not up to your standards you can't easily substitute it.
So we come to the job of actually taking general photos with this camera and we have to admit to being somewhat won over by the sheer versatility of it. That range of 24mm – 840mm is just astonishing and can produce pictures other cameras simply cannot. As ever with such cameras, the huge zoom range does lead to a compromise in picture quality with a large amount of chromatic aberration and a generally soft quality to all the images. As demonstrated by our image of a domed roof with the sun behind it, the lens struggles with challenging lighting situations as well (contrary to what you may think, an SLR would've created a usable shot in this scenario). Things aren't helped by the tiny sensor, which is only 1/2.3in. Ultimately, though, these image quality issues are inherent to cameras of this type, and in our time with this camera so far it doesn't seem markedly worse than the competition.
We have, however, already identified one issue with this camera; it's slow. While startup and shutdown times are perfectly acceptable and general system and menu navigation is sprightly enough, shot to shot times are fairly slow at around 2 shots a second in continuous mode, and most notably the zoom control feels very sluggish. This is felt most drastically when moving from having taken a shot and returning to shooting mode then wanting to adjust the zoom for your next shot. There's often a delay of a second or so before the lens will start moving, and if you're watching a bird flyby, that's a long time.
Autofocussing speed is at least decent in the wider angle range though as ever it slows down when zoomed in considerably and in low light. That said, it was quite capable out picking out a helicopter flying overhead even at the full 840mm zoom.
We haven't given the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS the full going over yet but from the time we've had with it so far we can feel it's mostly a nice camera to use with comfortable and intuitive ergonomics and plenty of useful features. That enormous zoom range and all the other features this camera also make it a true all rounder that is highly suited to holiday makers and sightseers. Unfortunately, for the more demanding photographer, the sluggish operation and image quality, particularly in low light, will probably prove too big an annoyance over time.