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Canon SX40HS Digital Camera Review

Canon SX40HS

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Canon SX40HS has an optical zoom with a truly massive 24-840mm range, image stabilising, plenty of mega pixels at 12.1, a brilliant system for bringing out blue skies, a super high frame rate of ten per second and shoots HD video with stereo sound too. Lots of goodies in one small package.

I only had the camera for an afternoon and haven’t lived with an SX40HS for any length of time. My first impression when I took this camera out of the box is that it feels ‘proper’ – like a mini DSLR.

I liked that it has an ‘up to the eye’ viewfinder which can be adjusted to suit your  eye-sight as well as a big bright LCD.

I love flip out LCDs because they’re a great aid to composition, but the eye level viewfinder is very useful if you’re photographing in bright sunlight when it can be difficult to see the LCD properly.

Excellent zoom and image stability

The long 840mm end of the zoom isn’t just for making far off things come closer; you can also use it to get in close to birds and animals. The pigeons in the video were only about ten or fifteen feet away from me, but I could never have got a frame filling image without using the zoom.

When using a very long lens you can often get blurry pictures from something called ‘camera shake’.

This is caused by the tiny movements us humans make being  magnified through the lens to make the subject of the picture appear to jump about in the viewfinder.

The Canon SX40HS image stabilising worked brilliantly even when the sun went in.

The HD video is excellent and the video record button is obvious and easy to get to. Combined with the excellent image stabilising, this makes for smooth steady filming.

Some final thoughts

Overall I think the Canon SX40HS is a good little camera – however I do have a couple of issues with it.

I’m not convinced by Canon’s claim that the short end of the zoom range is ‘ultra wide’. 24mm may be OK for a camera of this type, but to me ultra wide would need to be at least half that.

Auto focus worked well in most situations, but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to work at all when shooting close up macro images.

The high speed frame rate (ten per second) doesn’t work in sports mode – which is probably when I’d want to use it. And you can’t follow the action through the viewfinder whilst shooting! Having said that I did manage to shoot some nice images with it, but had to look over the top of the camera and hope I was framing the action.

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Pros

  • Image stabilisation
  • Very powerful zoom
  • Compact size
  • Easy to use HD video

Cons

  • Autofocus in macro mode very bad
  • High speed 10fps doesn't work in sport mode
  • When shooting in 10fps you can't follow the action in viewfinder or LCD
  • Easy to accidentally knock function buttons whilst shooting

Verdict

As with all cameras (and people for that matter) you have to live with them for a while and learn their little idiosyncrasies before you can truly get on with each other. For a camera in this price range the Canon SX40HS has lots to offer – particularly the video, but I do think some of the functions aren’t very well executed!

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