If big optical zooms, top-notch image stabilization and advanced manual controls light your fixed-lens digital camera fire, then the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS ($429.99 MSRP) is the ultimate kindling. It’s got an obscene 35x optical zoom 24mm wide-angle lens paired with Canon’s stellar optical image stabilization and a new Intelligent IS mode. The PowerShot SX40 HS also received a new 12.2-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor with the latest Digic 5 processing for higher noise reduction and faster speeds, enabling the SX40 HS to capture up to 8fps in Burst mode at full resolution. Canon also boosted the camera’s video ability to 1080p Full HS at 24fps and the Smart Auto mode has been expanded to reference up to 32 scenes. While most of the PowerShot SX40 HS’s renovations have transpired inside the camera, its external design remains untouched for 2011.
Thanks to the new CMOS sensor and Digic 5 processor, the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is an improvement over last year’s CCD-clad SX30 IS. The SX40 HS can now shoot comfortably at ISO 3200 and relies on Lowlight Mode for ISO 6400. Regardless, Canon’s noise management capabilities are commendable. The SX40 HS can shoot at ISO 1600 in order to achieve ISO 800-worthy results. I shot side-by-side with the omnipotent Canon PowerShot S100, so feel free to compare image samples. Though you’ll find less overall noise and better low light sensitivity in the S100’s samples, the SX40 HS still holds its own with that 1/2.3-inch CMOS. 1080p HD videos were quite impressive as well. And the zoom–oh the zoom! I was able to snap crisp images from quite a distance, courtesy of the SX40 HS’s whopping 35x optical zoom lens and impressive Image Stabilization system, including Intelligent IS, which automatically selected from six different stabilization presets that best suited the shooting environment. Here’s an example of what you can expect from the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS’s optical zoom lens.
Full Wide Angle:
Full Telephoto at 35x optical zoom taken from exact same location:
Yes, it’s obscene. The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is also no slouch when it comes to manual controls. It’s got a 15-second shutter speed and fully customizable White Balance controls. We got multiple Aspect Ratios, Exposure Bracketing, FlexiZone AF with the ability to move the Focus box, and Manual Focus. Since the SX40 HS carried over the same 2.7-inch vari-angle LCD with 230,000-pixel display, the screen quality was lacking. Therefore the magnified Manual Focus Assist box was pixelated and made it difficult to discern sharp edges. A boost in LCD resolution should be on Canon’s to-do list for next year’s superzoom model. Also, the camera retained a design identical to the SX30 IS, featuring a rear-mounted Control Dial, giant, chunky Mode dial, Video Record button, pop-up flash, hot shoe and various other shortcut buttons like ISO and Manual Focus. It’s a great design, however, and the camera’s larger size accommodates a larger battery pack, which outlasted the PowerShot S100 with twice the stamina.
The Creative Filters like Miniature, Super Vivid, Toy Camera and Slow Motion Movie made their way onto the SX40 HS, though HDR and Nostalgic were missing from the roster while they surfaced on the PowerShot S100. The SX40 HS also didn’t have a histogram function, though it did offer a digital light meter in Manual mode. Overall, the firmware was quick, the image stabilization paired exceedingly well with the giant optical zoom, and the image quality was a noticeable upgrade. The best part about the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is that its $430 price tag remains unchanged from last year. If you’ve got the urge to zoom, then you can’t go wrong with the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS.