BUILD AND DESIGN
The SX30 IS is a well designed, precision-built and robustly constructed imaging tool capable not only of reliably generating decent images, but also of providing purchasers with some serious “mine is bigger than yours” bragging rights. The SX30 IS’s polycarbonate body is tough enough to go just about anywhere and like the original Ford Model “T” it is available only in no-nonsense black.
The SX30 IS weighs around 4 ounces less than Canon’s Rebel series entry-level DSLRs (with SD card, battery, and EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens) which is impressive when you consider what the SX30 IS can do. Most entry-level DSLRs come with a 3x kit zoom, but the DSLR may be preferable if image quality is more important than the convenience of a very long zoom.
Canon is the most prolific producer of products marketed to meet the needs and wants of imaging gadget lovers. Like portable audio fans and smartphone aficionados, camera enthusiasts lust after the newest and most fantastic imaging devices – especially a point-and-shoot that’s cheaper and has WAY more reach than a typical entry level DSLR. SX30 IS users can stand in one spot and zoom all the way from (the equivalent of) 24mm ultra wide-angle to 840mm super-telephoto – a genuinely unique camera in a sea of (mostly) clones.
The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS has been re-designed with a more rounded and less angular look than its predecessor. The hand grip is smaller and there is a new thumb groove. The SX30 not only has a smaller footprint and weighs in at 46 grams less than the SX20 IS, it looks better, its operation is slightly more efficient and it is a bit more secure in the hand
Ergonomics and Controls
The third generation Canon PowerShot SX30 IS handles nicely and due to its very good balance feels solid and stable in your hands. The SX30 IS not only looks a lot like an entry-level DSLR, it handles much like one too. This is not a compact (4.83×3.63×4.24-inches) or light-weight (22oz) camera, but the SX30 is marginally smaller and a bit lighter than the SX20 IS thanks to the switch from AA batteries to a smaller rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The PowerShot SX30 is a rather chunky and not particularly stylish digicam. It’s definitely not pocketable unless you have a Captain Kangaroo style jacket with huge pockets.
The Canon SX30 offers a control layout that will be familiar to anyone who has ever used a Canon digicam. All controls are logically placed and easily accessed for right handed shooters, though some buttons are very small. The SX30 IS’s compass switch (4-way controller) provides direct access to the exposure compensation function, flash settings, and macro mode. Canon’s nifty “func” button offers direct access to WB, ISO, etc.
The SX30 IS also provides a “one-touch” video capture button – simply frame your shot and push the red button to start recording. When you wish stop recording, simply push the red button again. Overall, the SX30 IS’s control array is a bit busy, but it isn’t counter-intuitive and most users will have no difficulty using the camera competently after a short familiarization period. Like essentially all point-and-shoots, the SX30 IS will function in auto (point and shoot) mode. However, this camera was designed for photo enthusiasts, so there are lots of creative options and (for more advanced shooters) an impressive level of individual input.
Menus and Modes
The PowerShot SX30 IS features an expanded version of Canon’s classic menu system. The SX30’s menu, like all Canon point-and-shoot menus, is logical and easy to navigate. The SX30 IS provides a complete selection of shooting modes including:
- Auto: The camera automatically selects all exposure parameters, except flash on/off – just point and shoot.
- Program: Auto exposure with limited user input (sensitivity, white balance, exposure compensation, etc.).
- Aperture priority: Users select the aperture and the camera selects an appropriate shutter speed.
- Shutter priority: Users select shutter speed and the camera selects an appropriate aperture.
- Manual: Users select all exposure parameters.
- Custom 1 & Custom 2: Permits users to pre-program personal shooting preferences for quick access via the mode dial.
- Portrait: Mode dial scene mode – all exposure settings (plus smooth skin, soft-effect, etc) optimized to automatically enhance portraits.
- Landscape: Mode dial scene mode – all exposure settings optimized to automatically enhance landscape photos.
- Sports: Mode dial scene mode – all exposure optimized to capture sports/action without blurring.
- Scene: Smart shutter, low-light (2.0 megapixels), super-vivid, poster effect, color accent, color swap, kids & pets, super vivid, power effect, color accent, color swap, fish-eye effect, miniature effect, beach, underwater, foliage, snow, fireworks, stitch assist, indoor, face/self-timer, low-light, super vivid, poster effect, beach, foliage, snow, fireworks and stitch assist.
- Movie: The SX30 IS records HD video at a maximum resolution of 1280×720 (720p) at 30 fps for up to 4GB or one hour.
The SX30 IS features a 2.7-inch (6.8 cm) camcorder style flip-out tilt/swivel (230k-dot) PureColor II LCD that is slightly larger than the 2.5-inch LCD featured on the SX20 IS.
The SX30’s TFT LCD screen is bright, hue accurate, relatively fluid, automatically boosts gain in dim/low light, and covers approximately 100% of the image frame. The SX30’s LCD, like all LCD monitors is subject to fading and glare/reflections in bright outdoor lighting, but Canon’s Quick-bright mode makes it easier to frame and compose your images in bright outdoor light.
Unlike most current digicams, the SX30 IS also provides an EVF (electronic viewfinder). Resolution is a bit coarse (200k-dot), but reasonably bright and fluid. The EVF display provides the same information as the LCD, but the print is so small on the tiny EVF screen that those who lack eagle-like visual acuity will find it very difficult to read. There’s a diopter adjustment for those who wear glasses, but there’s no button for switching back and forth between the LCD and EVF – instead the SX30 IS automatically defaults to the LCD when the monitor faces out and to the EVF when the monitor faces in.