Canon SX30 IS
Review by David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer
Overview by Mike Tomkins
Review Date: 02/15/2011
The Canon SX30 IS follows up 2009’s SX20 IS model — itself an update of 2008’s SX10 IS. Compared to the SX20 IS, Canon has again raised the resolution ever so slightly, taking the SX30 from a twelve-megapixel CCD sensor to a fourteen megapixel CCD, with the result still being handled by Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processor.
Gone is the SX20’s 20x optical zoom lens, replaced by a jaw-dropping 35x optical zoom, offering focal lengths ranging from a generous 24mm wide-angle to a “don’t-you-need-a-tripod?” 840mm-equivalent telephoto. This lens includes one ultra-low dispersion lens element, and one high-index / ultra-low-dispersion lens element.
The lens design also includes ultrasonic and voice coil motors, aimed at reducing autofocus and zoom noise when recording movies. An optional lens filter adapter allows use of 67mm filters with the SX30 IS.
As the “IS” in the SX30 IS’s name indicates, it includes Canon’s Image Stabilization technology, helping fight the effects of blur from camera shake — and it’s said to be Canon’s most powerful IS system, with a claimed 4.5 stop improvement. Still, at the longest focal lengths we’d expect camera shake to be an issue even with stabilization in less than optimal lighting conditions.
Further recognizing the potential handling issues of such a long-zoom lens in a camera intended for consumer use, Canon has added a new Zoom Framing Assist button, which lets the user quickly zoom the lens out if they lose track of their subject, then zoom back in again once they’ve re-centered the subject in the image frame. A Smart Auto function automatically selects the appropriate scene mode from among 28 types, depending on subject matter.
Images are framed and reviewed on the Canon SX30’s 2.7-inch tilt / swivel LCD display — just a touch larger than the SX20’s 2.5-inch panel — which has a resolution of approximately 230,000 dots. As well as still image capture, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS retains its predecessor’s high-definition 720p movie mode, with stereo sound recording.
A Dynamic IS mode available when recording movies aims to reduce camera shake when filming while moving, and a movie-mode variant of Smart Auto can recognize and configure the camera for 21 different scene types. There’s also a variety of effects modes including Fish-eye, Miniature, Poster, and Super Vivid, of which the Miniature effect is available not just for still images, but also for movie recording. Like a similar mode available in some of Olympus’ cameras, this has an effect on movie frame rate; Canon allows playback at either 6, 3, or 1.5 frames per second if the movie was recorded in miniature mode.
The PowerShot SX30 IS also retains the SX20’s HDMI high definition video output. One other change of note is that the PowerShot SX30 IS now draws power from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, rather than the four AA batteries of its predecessor. As well as the SX20’s SD / SDHC card storage, the Canon SX30 now supports the latest generation SDXC cards. In addition, the Canon SX30 IS is now certified as Eye-Fi Connected, meaning it provides access to certain management features of the popular WiFi-capable SD cards in-camera.
The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS retails for around US$430, more expensive than its predecessor by $30. The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS began shipping in late September 2010.