- 40x optical zoom makes it versatile
- Generally accurate autofocus
- Good photo quality in daytime
- Shoots 4K video at 30fps
- Small sensor restricts low light performance
- No option to shoot in Raw
- Screen isn’t touch-sensitive
- Review Price: £349
- 20.3-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor
- 40x optical zoom
- Aperture range of f/3.3 – f/6.9
- 3-inch screen tilts 180-degrees
- Shoots 4K video at 30fps
- Has Canon's latest Digic 8 processor
What is the Canon PowerShot SX740 HS?
Canon’s latest travel zoom compact camera offers a 40x optical zoom in a body that’ll snugly fit in your pocket. In 35mm terms, that’s 24-960mm, giving you a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to snapping distant subjects.
It’s not the only reason why you might be tempted to pick up a Canon SX740 for your holidays – there’s also five-axis image stabilisation, 4K video recording, Canon’s latest Digic 8 processor and the ability to shoot stills at up to 10fps.
Canon PowerShot SX740 HS – Design and Features
Considering the Canon SX740 is housing a 40x optical zoom, it’s impressively small. Okay, so if you’re wearing the tightest of tight jeans you might struggle to get it in your pocket, but for most there should be more than enough room.
Of course, in cameras and life, there are always compromises. With the SX740 you have a 40x optical zoom, but the trade-off is a small sensor – a 1/2.3-inch, 20.3-megapixel CMOS chip – that doesn’t make the camera hugely comfortable with low light shooting. Still, if it’s for your summer holidays, you might not be too worried.
The camera has a range of shooting modes which can be chosen from a small dial on the SX740’s top plate. This includes manual and semi-automatic modes. Sadly, you don’t get the option to shoot in the Raw format for more editing flexibility, though.
Flipping to the back of the camera and all of the buttons are found on the right hand side – useful for single-handed shooting. One particularly handy button is one which allows you to quickly zoom out from your subject should it disappear from view. If you hold down the button, you’ll be able to find it again (such as a bird going out of the frame), release the button and the lens will resume its zoom position.
Canon PowerShot SX740 HS – Screen and Performance
The SX740’s screen tilts 180-degrees, which can be remarkably handy for shooting from slightly awkward angles. Some will no doubt prefer a fully articulating number, but for quick shots while on the move, tilting is certainly speedier. It also faces all the way forward, perfectly primed for taking selfies.
On the downside, the screen is not touch-sensitive. This is arguably an odd choice in 2018, but is something which helps keep the SX740 down to a reasonably affordable price. Still, it would have been nice to be able to flick through images in playback, and zoom in to check focus.
When it comes to focusing, the SX740 is generally pretty quick and on-the-whole accurate, especially when photographing at the wide angle end of the lens. At the telephoto end it can sometimes struggle to get what you’re trying to capture in focus first time, so it’s worth being mindful of that when you’re out shooting.
Disappointingly, it’s not possible to choose a specific focus point. Instead, you can choose from Face and Tracking, Tracking AF or a Centre Point. Leaving it on the final option means you can focus and recompose your shot, but it would have been preferable to be able to move the point around the screen as appropriate.
When it comes to tracking focus, the SX740 does a reasonably good job of keeping up with fairly predictably moving subjects. While it’s never going to be something you use for high-octane sports, tracking a fairly sedate dog, or a boat as it moves across a harbour, is going to be do-able.
Canon PowerShot SX740 HS – Image Quality and Video
As is so often the case with small-sensored compact cameras, image quality is best when sticking to well-lit situations. In lower light, there’s a noticeable lack of detail, and in very dark conditions, images become positively smudgy.
In good lighting, while the overall impression of detail is very good, there’s a little bit of fuzziness to be seen when deploying the full length of the 40x optical zoom. This is to be perfectly expected from the sensor and lens combination, plus how often you actually use a whopping great 960mm (equivalent) lens is up for debate.
It certainly comes in useful in even relatively mundane conditions, such as a trip to the zoo. Try to think of it as more useful for recording otherwise out-of-reach shots rather than works of high art, and you should be more than happy.
Colours are well saturated, with a good degree of vibrancy – again especially in favourable light. Under artificial light, the automatic white balance setting tends to err towards yellowish tones, but you can select a more appropriate white balance setting to sort that out.
The SX740 is capable of shooting 4K video – which is great for creating home videos. It’s not something videographers are likely to consider, but it’s good to know that compact cameras are offering the same level of video quality as the average 2018 smartphone.
Why buy the Canon PowerShot SX740 HS?
Today’s smartphone cameras have a wide range of impressive skills, but one thing they can’t offer is the SX740 HS’s huge optical zoom.
Having 40x zoom in your pocket is great for flexibility and makes the SX740 an ideal travel, holiday and ‘days out’ compact.
Canon had the potential to make this camera a little more appealing to advanced photographers – it got halfway there by offering manual control, but by leaving out Raw format shooting and the ability to change focus points it feels more suited to beginners and those using the camera for basic needs.
Still, image quality is decent, the price is fair, and having the option of that massive zoom is really handy in certain situations. Serious shooters will be better off looking towards some of the 1-inch sensor compacts, such as the Panasonic TZ100 and Sony RX100 VI, but they are both expensive and more restricted on the zoom front.
A fair price and super-flexible zoom range makes the SX740 one of the better compact cameras for holidays and days out.
Panasonic Lumix TZ200
Another compromise to be had here – you get a much bigger sensor (one-inch), but you only get 15x zoom. For a good balance between sensor size and zoom ratio, though, the Panasonic TZ200 is the best you can buy, if somewhat pricey.
Sony CyberShot HX60
This older model is available for under £200, making it a great last-minute holiday buy. The Sony HX60 combines 30x zoom with a 1/2.3-inch sensor, and gives you manual control, Full HD video recording and a pocket-friendly chassis.
|Camera type||Digital Compact|
|Optical Zoom (Times)||40x|
|Image Sensor||1/2.3 type back-illuminated CMOS|
|LCD Monitor||3-inch LCD, approx. 922,000 dots|
|Video (max res/format)||4K (3840 x 2160), 29.97/25 fps|
|Dimensions Width (Millimeter)||110.1|
|Weight (body only) (Kilogram)||299|
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