Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Review: A Formidable Ultrazoom

by Reads (23,688)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.50
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • 35x optical zoom
    • Impressive stabilization
    • Full complement of features
  • Cons

    • Quirky AF
    • No RAW
    • Bulky for a point-and-shoot

Quick Take

The Canon SX40 produces sharp, high quality images in most conditions. However, it isn't immune to the limitations of a smaller lens and sensor.

The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is the newest of Canon’s all-in-one ultrazoom compact cameras. About the same size as an entry level DSLR, the SX40 offers a lower price and the added convenience of a single built-in lens. Unlike most other compacts the SX40 has an incredible effective zoom range of 35x, from 24mm to an amazing 840mm. Its extensive feature set also includes full 1080p video and various high speed shooting modes for both capturing action and slowing it down.

The big news with the introduction of the SX40 is the addition of Canon’s new DIGIC 5 chip – the same one used in the just announced $6800 Canon EOS 1D X – under the hood, adding state of the art speed and image performance to the SX camera line. The DIGIC 5 chip allows for a high speed shooting mode where the SX40 can capture 8 frames per second.

Canon is to be commended for using this additional performance for speed and image quality instead of a race for higher resolution, by including a 12.1 megapixel sensor – just about the highest resolution that is reasonable for a 1/2.3-inch sensor before image quality starts to go downhill. A 1/2.3-inch sensor is about 1/5 of a 35mm film frame in each dimension – providing only 1/25th of the total sensor area of a full frame camera, so to keep image quality high the resolution can’t increase much beyond the 12 megapixels of the SX40.

Canon has also included an improved 2.7-inch adjustable LCD, and full 1080p HD video with stereo audio capture – easily triggered by using a dedicated Movie button – along with an upgraded Image Stabilization system. A variety of manual modes allow for impressive control for advanced photographers, although the lack of a RAW image capture option will definitely disappoint avid hobbyists.

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