Canon PowerShot SX30 IS: Video and Image Quality

by Howard Creech Reads (1,853)
Editor's Rating
7.25

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.25
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
The SX30 IS’s 1280×720 at 30fps HD movie mode produces properly exposed and color correct videos clips. The SX30 IS also captures video at 640×480 and 320×240 at 30fps. I shot the video that accompanies this review in the early afternoon at small neighborhood Autumn festival, so the light was pretty good. Video capture is impressive since you can (unlike with most P&S digicams) use the 35x zoom while recording. Canon recommends a class 4 (or higher) memory card for video.

Image Quality
The SX30’s image files (like all Canon digicam image files) are optimized for bold bright hues and hard-edged but slightly flat contrast. Reds are a little warm, blues are a bit brighter than they are in real life, and greens are vibrant, though purples tend toward blue. Images generated by the SX30 IS are consistently a bit soft and there is no in-camera sharpening option. Image quality is a bit below average, but for 3×5 or 4×6 prints and enlargements up to 8×10 the SX30 IS will do a fine job. Check out the telephoto demo shot below (at full size) and you’ll notice how soft it is.

Canon SX30 Sample Image

The SX30’s optical image stabilization system reduces blur by quickly and precisely shifting a lens element in the zoom to compensate for involuntary camera movement. Typically, IS systems allow users to shoot at shutter speeds up to three EV slower than would have been possible without stabilization. Keeping a lens with a focal length range from ultra-wide to super-telephoto steady (without a tripod) poses some impressive challenges.

Canon has equipped the SX30 IS with what they claim is the most advanced and effective optical image stabilization system ever used in a point-and-shoot camera (it assesses camera shake about 8,000 times per second) providing up to 4.5 EV of compensation. Four IS modes are supported – Continuous IS works full time and includes an automatic Dynamic IS function adapted from Canon camcorders – Continuous IS consumes substantially more power than the other three modes. Shoot Only IS kicks the IS system in just before the shutter fires. Panning IS is designed to factor out involuntary movement during lateral panning. IS can also be switched off.

The SX30 provides users with a decent selection of white balance options, including auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, flash, and custom. The SX30 IS’s auto WB mode does a very good job in most lighting.

Canon SX30 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The SX30 IS provides an acceptable range of sensitivity options, including auto and user-set options for ISO 80 to 1600 – the SX20 IS also featured an ISO 3200 setting. ISO 80 and ISO 100 images are virtually identical – both show bright colors, slightly hard edged default contrast, and very low noise levels. ISO 200 images were also very good, but with a little less snap.

Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 80
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 100
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 200
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 400
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 800
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Canon SX30 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

At the ISO 400 setting, noise levels are noticeably higher and there’s a perceptible loss of minor detail. ISO 800 images are very noisy. ISO 1600 images show flat colors, fuzzy detail, reduced contrast and lots of noise.

Additional Sample Images

Canon SX30 Sample Image Canon SX30 Sample Image
Canon SX30 Sample Image Canon SX30 Sample Image
Canon SX30 Sample Image Canon SX30 Sample Image


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