Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

The SX30 offers the longest optical zoom to date at 35x, and is a fine camera for everyday photography. Tricky lighting and shooting at its full zoom extension is where the SX30 falls flat.


7.8
CNET Rating
8.8
User Rating

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Design and features

As we've previously established, superzooms are not the most attractive cameras one can buy. The SX30 is no exception to this rule, with a hulking black chassis and giant 35x optical zoom lens sticking out at the front. Its furrowed brow, home to the faux-prism hump and the pop-up flash, adds to its mean and nasty demeanour.

Elsewhere, there's an articulating LCD screen with 2.7 inches of real estate, and a measly 230,000 dots packed inside. Like previous superzoom cameras from Canon, including the excellent SX1, the SX30 has a one-touch record button just next to the electronic viewfinder.

Shooting control is provided via the indented mode dial, which looks and feels different from any other Canon offerings that came before. Its rounded centre provides a convenient thumb rest when gripping the camera with the right hand. Photographers can choose between full PASM controls, on top of automatic, portrait, scene, landscape and sports modes.

The lens is why most people will be interested in this camera; at the time of writing, it's the longest optical zoom found on any consumer superzoom camera at 35x. Aperture-wise, it reaches from f/2.7-5.8 from wide to telephoto extremes. Given the extreme focal length of this camera, there's no surprise it needs a decent image stabiliser to keep up with the camera shake caused by the magnification and its weight (all up with battery and card, it's around 601g).

The hotshoe is sneakily concealed by a removable flap just over the electronic viewfinder, which is actually a clever feature if you don't use an external flash too often, or at all. The SX30 uses a Lithium-ion battery (different to the earlier SX20 camera which used AA batteries) and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards that slot in at the bottom under a rather cheap-feeling flap.

Compared to

SX30 comparison

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Nikon Coolpix P100
14.1-megapixel CCD sensor 14.1-megapixel MOS sensor 10.3-megapixel CMOS sensor
2.7-inch, 230,000-dot articulating LCD 3-inch, 460,000-dot articulating LCD 3-inch, 460,000-dot fixed LCD
35x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle 24x optical zoom, 25mm wide-angle 26x optical zoom, 26mm wide-angle
HD video (H.264, 720p, 30fps) HD video (AVCHD, 1080i, 30fps) HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p, 30fps)
Pop-up flash, hotshoe Pop-up flash, hotshoe Pop-up flash

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • Shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Canon PowerShot SX302.33.50.5
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1002.30.80.4
  • Nikon P1001.81.40.4
  • Olympus SP-590 UZ1.620.6

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Canon PowerShot SX301.2
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1005
  • Nikon P10011.3
  • Olympus SP-590 UZ1

Canon rates the SX30 as able to take 370 shots on one battery charge.

Image quality

Given the long lens, it's not surprising that photos from the SX30 aren't as exciting (or as clear) as we would have liked. At full 35x extension, images are soft and fuzzy. As good as the image stabiliser is, it can't really cope with such length without mounting the camera on a tripod.

35x zoom SX30

A photo taken at the extreme wide end (top) and the telephoto end (bottom) of the SX30's lens. 100 per cent crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)

Images taken at more standard focal lengths will be adequate for most needs, like web display and small prints. With enough light, the SX30 produces decent images. Pixel peeping at 100 per cent magnification shows some over-processing even at lower ISO levels though. Noise as you hit ISO 400 and above is quite intrusive on images, particularly the low-light pictures shot at a reduced resolution. The SX30 can't shoot in RAW either, so this means you are stuck with its JPEG images.

SX30 image sample

An image taken using the low light setting. Click the picture above for the full resolution version. (Credit: CBSi)

The lens shows some chromatic aberrations and fringing which is to be expected, and there's a fair amount of distortion at the wide end. Colour rendition is fairly decent but edges towards over-saturation.

SX30 fringing

An example of fringing from the SX30. 100 per cent crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)

Video quality is decent, with good colour and sharpness providing you aren't zoomed in all the way. You can use the optical zoom while filming. The microphone does pick up wind noise, but the example test below is fairly extreme. In most situations, the SX30 copes reasonably well.

Image samples

Click each image for full-sized samples from the SX30. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.

Exposure: 1/20, f/2.7, ISO 800

Exposure: 1/100, f/4.5, ISO 125

Exposure: 1/640, f/4, ISO 80

Exposure: 1/20, f/2.7, ISO 500

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The SX30 offers the longest optical zoom to date at 35x, and is adequate enough for everyday photography. Tricky lighting and shooting at its full zoom extension is where the SX30 falls flat.

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Disappointed posted a comment   

The Good:Long zoom

The Bad:Poor image quality, mechanical noise and slowness, heavy, manual not included with camera, need to buy filter adaptor to attach filters

I bought this camera for a cruise to Antarctica hoping that with a 35x zoom I would be able to get some good shots. Image quality of all shots (both with and without using zoom) were extremely disappointing, unless they are in full sunlight - which we didn't get in Antarctica. Photos look bland, washed out, lots of noise. I'll be selling the SX30 now as soon as I can and going back to my trusty Panasonic FZ18. Guaranteed good shots with that one.

Andrew
10
Rating
 

Andrew posted a review   

The Good:Overall great camera

The Bad:Downside... no burst shooting option

Other than the loss of burst shooting option this camera is for everyday use and compare to my friends slr camera this takes better pictures. Worth my money.

 

Ram posted a comment   

The Good:35x Optical Zoom

The Bad:Image quality, Slow, Build Quality

I bought this camera primarily for its zoom lens but a little disappointed on the image quality. It does not even beat the older smaller Ixus models with Digi 3 processor! Wish the image quality was better and it would have been perfect. Tried various settings but still the same.

Beginner
6
Rating
 

Beginner posted a review   

The Good:Full Manual, Features, Versatile, Ergonomics

The Bad:Image Quality, Performance

While the image quality and performance isn't what you would expect if you were a profession photographer, it is sufficient for amatures and those alike.

Easy to take portraits, landscapes and close-ups — decent all round camera.

Benno88
10
Rating
 

Benno88 posted a review   

The Good:Love it all

The Bad:Nothing

What a great camera. The picture quality is nearly as good as and SLR and the zoom makes for such great pictures. I bought a speedlight for it as well and the 2 together make pictures look so vibrant

breaker
9
Rating
 

breaker posted a review   

First super zoom camera and am finding it serves my needs impressively.

 

Bsteve posted a comment   

Love this camera, very hard to take a bad photo, easy to use. Awesome point and shoot camera. Definately worth the money.




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User Reviews / Comments  Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

  • Disappointed

    Disappointed

    "I bought this camera for a cruise to Antarctica hoping that with a 35x zoom I would be able to get some good shots. Image quality of all shots (both with and without using zoom) were extremely dis..."

  • Andrew

    Andrew

    Rating10

    "Other than the loss of burst shooting option this camera is for everyday use and compare to my friends slr camera this takes better pictures. Worth my money."

  • Ram

    Ram

    "I bought this camera primarily for its zoom lens but a little disappointed on the image quality. It does not even beat the older smaller Ixus models with Digi 3 processor! Wish the image quality wa..."

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