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Canon PowerShot SX30 IS First Look
by Howard Creech -  10/11/2010

The third generation Canon PowerShot SX30 IS replaces last year's very popular SX20 IS. The SX30 IS is a compact, DSLR-styled ultrazoom that is essentially an evolutionary update, even though at least one of the changes seems almost revolutionary. Like Pinocchio's nose, ultrazoom lenses just keep growing longer. The SX20 IS featured a 20x zoom, the SX30 IS sports a brand new 35x zoom - currently the longest digicam zoom in the business. The SX30's gargantuan (24-840mm equivalent) zoom was created with the same materials and processes used to build Canon's EF line of DSLR lenses.

When light rays pass through a camera lens they separate and dispersion (the various colors don't focus at exactly the same point) becomes a problem. Dispersion causes axial chromatic aberration - the fuzzy colored edge blurring image degrading phenomenon popularly known as purple fringing. The SX30 IS's zoom features one Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) element (most commonly found in high-end DSLR lenses) and one Hi-UD element (most commonly found in professional broadcast lenses) to control color aberrations and ensure good image quality across the zoom range.

The SX30 IS's new zoom also features Canon's USM and VCM motors to reduce zooming noise when recording video and an optional lens adapter that allows the use of 67mm photo filters. A lens this long unequivocally needs image stabilization and the SX30 IS has what Canon claims is its most powerful digicam IS system to date, providing a reported 4.5 EV improvement, rather than the industry standard 3 EV improvement found on most IS equipped digicams.

In addition to the 35x zoom, other major changes include increased sensor resolution. The SX20 IS was a 12 megapixel digicam, and the SX30 IS bumps that up to 14 megapixels. The SX30 also has a new power source. The SX20 IS was powered by four relatively heavy AA batteries. The SX30 IS draws its juice from a much lighter (and with substantially less mass) proprietary lithium-ion battery.

Other features include a 2.7-inch articulated tilt/swivel (230k-dot) PureColor II VA LCD with Canon's Quick-bright mode (which makes it easier to frame and compose your images in bright outdoor light at the touch of a button), an electronic viewfinder, HD (720p) video with stereo audio, DIGIC IV processor, a hot shoe for mounting external speedlights, an HDMI output, Servo AF/AE (which constantly adjusts focus and exposure with moving subjects), a new Zoom Framing Assist button to aid in tracking and capturing of telephoto subjects, and full manual exposure control.

If you've ever wanted to join the paparazzi - the SX30 IS's 35x zoom (which provides about the same focal length range as a wheelbarrow full of lenses) is capable of getting you up close and personal with the celebrity of your choice.

Canon SX30 Sample Image
Telephoto, 840mm

I've only had the SX30 IS for a short while, but I like it a lot already even though it has a few shortcomings. This digital camera can capture images of just about anything - from expansive ultra-wide landscapes to telephoto close-ups.

Canon SX30 Sample Image

Canon SX30 Sample Image

More on the way
The SX30 IS has the potential to be a "best choice" digicam for photo enthusiasts, nature lovers, wildlife and sports fans, and street/candid photography aficionados. Watch for our full review of the Canon Powershot SX30 IS coming soon.