Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS review: This compact Canon camera has a massive 840mm zoom lens!

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Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5


  • Huge zoom, decent image quality and faithful colour reproduction, manual features, decent high-def video capturing


  • Some noticeable chromatic aberration and noise, hard to frame scenes at full zoom unless using a tripod, screen and EVF could be better

Bottom Line

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS is a great digital camera for anyone who wants a big zoom. It has a zoom that can reach up to 840mm, and this means you can get very close to the action at sporting events and concerts. However, for best results you do need to use a tripod. Its image quality is decent, but it won't give you crystal clear pictures -- there will be some noise and purple fringing noticeable when you scrutinise your pictures closely. Overall though, if you want a compact camera with a big zoom, it's hard to pass up the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS.

Would you buy this?

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS offers the longest zoom that's available in a compact camera. This Canon digital camera has a 35x optical zoom, and it's suitable for travellers, plane spotters and sports fans who are often far from the action. It's also useful for taking close-up shots without getting too close to a subject. Its image quality is quite good, even at full zoom, but it does suffer from some noise and also from chromatic aberration, both of which can be seen clearly when you view the photos at their full size or crop them closely.

See more megazoom cameras from Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, Samsung and Sony in our Top 5 megazoom digital camera camera round-up.

The Canon SX30 IS follows in the footsteps of the PowerShot SX20 IS, which was a 20x zoom advanced compact camera with a 12.1-megapixel sensor. The SX30 IS has a slightly different body, beefed up specs and it costs less. It has a 14.1-megapixel sensor and its lens has a wide angle of 24mm. With a 35x zoom, it can give you a range equivalent to an 840mm telephoto lens. When it's fully zoomed out, the aperture can be as open as f/2.7, but when you zoom all the way, it closes to f/5.8, and it can be closed manually up to f/8.0. When you zoom all the way, the lens sticks out of the body by 60mm, and it really makes you look conspicuous. Zooming is smooth for the most part, but there are some big jumps in the zoom rate after you pass 100mm.

Having such a long zoom can be useful whenever you're in a situation in which you can't get close to your subject (or when you don't want to get close to your subject), and it can also come in handy when you want to capture details of tall buildings or objects in the distance. It should be noted that it's not easy to use the camera at its full zoom; even the smallest movement will cause the image in the frame to jump around considerably. You have to be completely still when taking photos at 840mm, especially if your subject is filling the frame. We recommend you use a tripod for best results, even if you're shooting on a bright day.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

Tourist shots: Sydney's AMP Tower shot sequence, from wide angle (top), mid-zoom and full zoom (bottom).

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

Close-up shot at a sporting event: A candid shot of Steve Carfino and Andrew Gaze preparing for their broadcast of a Sydney Kings basketball match.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

The best thing about the long zoom is that you can get close to subjects without actually getting close to them. This was taken while standing up straight.

There is some noise in photos, especially in dark colours when you shoot in low-light conditions. You can use up to ISO 800 without your photos looking too muddy or miscoloured, unless you crop them closely or view them at their full 14.1-megapixel size. Colours were reproduced faithfully in our tests; furthermore, the camera handled bright conditions quite well when it was in automatic or semi-automatic mode. You can switch to full manual mode if you want to take total control over the exposure.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

The primary colours in this scene were reproduced faithfully and the bright white parts didn't get blown out. There is some chromatic aberration in the scene and the image does have some noise, but these are only visible when you view the photo at its full size (below).

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

We like the ease of use of the PowerShot SX30 IS. It has a rotational thumb control so that you can easily change the settings when you're in manual mode, and its controls are laid out well for the most part. There is one button that sometimes gets in the way, and that's the 'zoom assist' button. It's located right next to the spot where you rest your right thumb and it's too easy to press. Luckily, it doesn't bring up a menu — its function is to zoom out briefly while you are zoomed in so that you can get a wider picture of what you're framing. The hinged screen on the camera is decent, although you might have trouble viewing it on very bright days, but you can also use the electronic viewfinder to frame your pictures and view settings. However, it is a very small EVF and this makes it uncomfortable to use.

Overall, the PowerShot SX30 IS a very good digital camera for anyone who wants a model with a huge zoom. It's perfect for travellers who want a long-reaching lens but who don't want to lug a digital SLR, and sports lovers and plane spotters should also get a lot out of it. It won't produce stellar images (they won't be crystal clear) but it will produce decent enough results that you'll be able to share with your friends online, and even print them at fairly large sizes.

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