Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Review
Originally Posted: December 18, 2011
Last Updated: December 7, 2012
The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS ($429) is a super zoom camera with one of the most powerful lenses on the market. This 35X zoom lens has an incredible focal range of 24 - 840 mm, which should cover every possible shooting situation that you'll run into.
|At full wide-angle (24 mm), Alcatraz is just a spot on the horizon||At full telephoto (840 mm), you're up close and personal with "The Rock"|
The SX40 is the follow-up to the PowerShot SX30, from which it borrows the lens, design, and feature set (mostly). One of the big differences between the two is that where the SX30 used a CCD sensor, the SX40 uses CMOS. This new "high sensitivity" 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, combined with a new DIGIC 5 image processor, allows the SX40 to take shoot at over 10 frames/second, and record Full HD video.
So what else separates the SX30 and SX40 HS? It's chart time!
As you can see, the SX40 HS is better than the SX30 in just about every respect. The only thing that appears to be "worse" is the resolution -- but in reality, dropping down to 12 Megapixel is probably a good thing (we'll see later, in the photo tests).
The PowerShot SX40 faces tough competition, especially from Panasonic and Sony. Read on to find out how it fares in our tests!
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot SX40's bundle is typical of what you'll find from Canon. Inside the box, you'll find the following:
- The 12.1 effective Megapixel PowerShot SX40 HS digital camera
- NB-10L lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger
- Lens cap w/retaining strap
- Neck strap
- Case for hot shoe cover
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution and camera/software manuals
- 34 page Quick Start Guide (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM
Unlike nearly all camera manufacturers, Canon does not build internal memory into their cameras. Therefore, you'll need to buy a memory card right away, unless you have one sitting around already. The PowerShot SX40 supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, and I'd recommend picking up a 4GB card if you'll be mostly taking stills, and 8GB or 16GB if recording Full HD video is a priority. A high speed card -- Class 6 or higher -- is recommended for maximum performance.
The SX40 HS uses the brand spankin' new NB-10L lithium-ion battery. This battery stores less energy than the battery used by the SX30 (6.8 vs. 7.8 Wh), but Canon somehow managed to slightly improve battery life on the SX40. Here's how the SX40 compares to other super zooms in the battery life department:
The PowerShot SX40's battery life is just about average in this group of super zoom cameras. Those of you who remember earlier Canon ultra zoom cameras will recall that they always used AA batteries -- that changed on the SX30. If you want a camera that uses AAs, there are two choices listed above. Buying an extra NB-10L battery for your SX40 will set you back just shy of $60.
When it's time to recharge the NB-10L, just pop it into this remarkably curvy (by Canon standards) battery charger. It plugs right into the wall (in the U.S., at least) and takes 100 minutes to top off the battery.
There are a couple of accessories available for the PowerShot SX40, which include:
That's a pretty good selection! For those who were hoping for conversion lenses to take the zoom up to 40X+: you're out of luck.
Canon has one of the nicest software bundles out there. You'll first encounter CameraWindow, which will download photos from the camera onto your Mac or PC. The main photo organizing suite is called ZoomBrowser in Windows and ImageBrowser on Macs. The software lets you e-mail or print photos, upload videos to YouTube, and do some editing, as well. Available photo editing features include trimming, redeye removal, level/tone curve adjustment, and color tuning. While the Browser software can view RAW files, it cannot edit them -- see below for another option. Movie editing tools in Image/ZoomBrowser include trimming and frame grabs.
Also included is something called PhotoStitch. This software can take photos that you've lined up using the Stitch Assist feature on the camera, and combine them into a single panoramic image, with very little effort on your part.
Canon certainly is keeping up with the current trends regarding documentation, by providing as little printed material as possible. Inside the box is a leaflet that'll teach you basic camera operation. If you want more details, you'll have to load up the full manual, which is in PDF format on an included CD-ROM. The quality of the manuals is average: they explain everything well enough, but they could be a lot more user-friendly. Instructions for the bundled software are found on the same disc.