Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
Written by Gordon Laing
The Canon Powershot SX30 IS is a 14 Megapixel super-zoom with a 35x optical zoom lens and a fully articulated 2.7in screen.
An update to the hugely successful PowerShot SX20 IS, it adds significantly to the older model’s zoom range at both ends with a 24mm ultra-wide-angle extending a long, long way up to an 840mm super-telephoto giving it the longest zoom range of any consumer super-zoom on the market.
To complement its super-telephoto reach, Canon has improved the PowerShot SX30 IS’s optical image stabilisation. AA batteries have been dropped in favour of a Canon Li-Ion battery, scene detection has been enhanced and extended to movie shooting and the body has been restyled with curvier EOS DSLR-style contours.
Compared to Panasonic Lumix FZ45 /FZ40
The stand-out advantage provided by the PowerShot SX30 IS’s 35x optical zoom lens is hard to understate. At the wide-angle end of the range there’s nothing in it and the two cameras produce virtually identical results, but an 840mm telephoto will get you a lot closer to the action than a 600mm one, so if you shoot a lot of very distant subjects, this alone will probably be enough to decide it. The SX30 IS also boasts a flash hotshoe.
Though the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 sports a bigger 3in LCD than the PowerShot SX30IS, it’s not articulated and the ability to twist and turn the screen to get a better view, either by shading it from bright sunlight, adjusting it to get a better view when shooting from low or high angles, or twisting it to use as a monitor for self-recording is a big plus.
On the other hand, shooting HD video is more comfortable using the wider screen of the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 and with AVCHD Lite as well as Motion JPEG formats, not to mention the ability to set the exposure manually, it’s a more versatile video camera than the PowerShot SX30 IS.
Lastly, let’s not forget that the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 is considerably cheaper than the PowerShot SX30 IS, so all that additional telephoto reach comes at a price. Added to which, in our outdoor resolution and high ISO noise tests, the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 produced comparable results to the PowerShot SX30 IS, while also sporting optional RAW recording. The FZ45 / FZ40 is also a little smaller and lighter too.
Like their predecessors, the choice boils down to which features and styling are more important to you, but the FZ45 / FZ40 is likely to be another big-seller for Panasonic.
See our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 / FZ40 review for more details.
Compared to Panasonic Lumix FZ100
In terms of both features and price the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 is a closer match to the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, with both models featuring flash hotshoes and articulated screens for example. There’s still the issue of zoom range though, with the Lumix FZ100 sharing the same 25 – 600mm 24x optical zoom as the Lumix FZ 45 / FZ40, and both are left standing by the PowerShot SX30 IS’s huge reach, extending to 840mm.
With 1080i HD video recording, a choice of AVCHD and Motion JPEG formats and manual exposure control, the Lumix FZ100 wins out where movies are concerned. Its bigger, higher resolution screen is better suited to viewing HD video and, like the Powershot SX30’s, is fully articulated.
The Lumix FZ100’s CMOS sensor is free from the problem of vertical streaking when shooting bright subjects and into the light and it also provides continuous shooting speeds that put the PowerShot SX30 IS to shame.
Finally, there’s the question of image quality. In our real-life outdoor resolution and high ISO noise texts the Lumix FZ100 wasn’t able to match the quality of either the Canon Powershot SX30 IS or it’s less expensive sibling the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40. But many will still opt for the FZ100 over thew SX30 IS based on its 1080i video and fast continuous shooting, all packed into a slightly smaller and lighter body which still sports an articulated screen and flash hotshoe.
See our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 review for more details.
Canon PowerShot SX30 IS verdict
Canon continues to build on the reputation of one of the best super-zooms around, audaciously upping the ante by equipping the SX30 IS with a jaw-dropping 35x optical zoom lens. There’s not much you can’t photograph with a lens that extends from 25 to 850mm and there’s certainly very little in terms of competing models that come close to that range.
Other improvements, though less eye-catching, remain significant. The larger screen size is welcome and the enhancement to the optical image stabilisation mean that this is a lens you’ll be able to get the most from, even in low light. The switch to a Lithium Ion battery won’t please everyone, but nonetheless has its advantages, one being a slight decrease in overall weight despite the larger lens. Increasing the sensor resolution to 14 Megapixels though adds little in terms of image quality, and the continued absence of RAW means its rivals from Panasonic still enjoy an edge for enthusiasts wanting to get the most from their camera’s files.
The only real blot on the PowerShot SX30IS landscape is the problem of colour fringing at the wide angle and telephoto extremes of the zoom range. While it’s maybe inevitable that a lens of such scope will exhibit these kinds of problems a RAW shooting mode – or in-camera correction – would have mitigated it to some extent. Despite that, the PowerShot SX30 IS is a super-zoom truly worthy of the name. It will, without doubt, prove even more popular than its predecessors and, like them, comes Highly Recommended.
(relative to 2010 super-zooms)
18 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
18 / 20
17 / 20