Canon PowerShot SX40 HS: Reaching Far Ahead



Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

A zoom range of 35x is not new, but the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS has some other interesting upgrades. Supriya Joshi puts it to the test.

With so many superzoom cameras in the market, it can get both boring and interesting to test one. After all, that is the biggest challenge that camera companies face. What does their camera have, besides zoom, that other products do not? The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is a 35x zoom camera, just like its predecessor, the SX30 IS. But where it really improves upon is its internal technology and feature set, both of which were a little outdated, as compared to the competition.

In a strategy similar to the one Canon has been adopting in the past year or so, the SX40 HS actually has a lower megapixel count than its predecessor. Instead of a 14.1MP CCD sensor, this camera has a 12.1MP CMOS sensor. The lower resolution does not make much of a difference in real world shooting, but it does give the camera a theoretical advantage in terms of noise performance at higher ISO settings.
The CMOS technology also allows the camera to capture Full HD video, as compared to the 720p video output of the SX30. We must say that the quality of the video is absolutely stunning, and a definite leap over most other compact cameras. The video is not just high in resolution, but also in functionality, in terms of the control over sound and final look.
The camera is also one of the first PowerShot cameras to use Canon’s new DIGIC 5 processor, which gives it a super fast shooting speed of 10fps—again, far better than the 1.3fps speed of the SX30. We tested the High Speed Shooting mode with both Class 4 and Class 10 SDHC cards. The camera would shoot 8 frames, pause for only 4 seconds and then be ready to shoot. This is comparable to the best superzoom cameras in the market.
The SX40 is equipped with all the bells and whistles that recent Canon compact cameras have had, including fun modes like Fish-eye Effect, Toy Camera Effect and so on. The camera also has a hot shoe for those who wish to exercise creative control by using an external flashgun. The lack of RAW shooting, though, is a big negative.

The tilt-and-swivel screen that the SX-series has had for a long time, is both good and bad. The fact that it is completely articulated makes shooting extremely convenient, while shooting from unusual angles. However, the LCD screen has a resolution of only 2,30,000 dots. In 2011, that is extremely poor and outdated, considering the fact that the competition has LCDs that have four times the resolution.
In addition to several direct-access buttons, the SX40 HS also has a Shortcut button. This can be customised to access any of the essential settings like Metering, AF Lock, AE Lock, White Balance and so on. Superzoom cameras rarely have functionality of this nature, so the company deserves some praise for adding it.
One problem with the handling of the camera is with the lens cap. It does not sit well on the lens, and can detach even with the slightest touch. Thankfully, the cap comes with a strap that keeps it in place. It is highly recommended you do the same if you do not want to lose it!

Considering most PowerShot HS cameras are marketed as low light performers, the SX40 HS does not disappoint. Images up to ISO 800 are quite easily usable, though the images do show some compression artifacts even at low ISO settings. There is a certain amount of purple fringing visible, but the control over flare is commendable.
The AF is very fast and maintains accuracy even at the telephoto end. The IS gave an advantage of almost 4.5 stops, as claimed, and was especially useful while framing images at the telephoto end.

All in all, the SX40 HS is probably the most versatile superzoom camera available for its price of Rs. 28,995. If you do not need to attach an external flashgun, the Nikon P500 offers almost the same features for Rs. 8000 lesser! But for those who demand indepth functionality, the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is probably the best superzoom camera we have tested.

Final Ratings
35x zoom, Full HD video, hot shoe, no RAW

Fast AF, excellent IS, compression artifacts.

Build Quality
Bulky, flimsy lens cap

Large, easy-to-use buttons, Shortcut button

Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, 75 service centres

Value For Money: 3/5 stars

Tags: Supriya Joshi, December 2011, Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, Best superzoom?, 35x optical zoom