Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

  • Category: Digital Cameras
Last Updated
October 25, 2011

Editor's Rating
4 Out of 5

  • Well-designed body/controls
  • Huge 35x optical zoom
  • Full manual controls
  • Excellent image quality

  • Requires a steady hand or tripod at times
  • Video quality is only average

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The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is a high-end mega-zoom camera that won't disappoint even the most experienced photographers. It has a 12-megapixel resolution and a 35x optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 24-840mm. It has really good image quality, but it does have some minor flaws.

The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is definitely not pocket size as it measures 4.8 x 3.6 x 4.2-inches (whd) and weighs about 1.2-pounds. The black body has a matte finish that gives it a professional look, which fits right in with its feature set. The back of the camera has a 2.7-inch LCD display that pops out and twists so you can hold the camera at different angles and always see the screen straight-on. The screen's resolution is 230,000-pixels, which is average for most cameras, but Canon could've done us better here. That said, the screen did look nice and worked well even in direct sunlight.

Canon includes the standard set of controls on the SX40 HS's rear side: a four-way navigation pad with scroll wheel and function buttons, a zoom frame assist button, the standard playback/display/menu buttons as well as a dedicated video record and shortcut key button that is user customizable. The four-way navigation pad buttons give one-click access to ISO settings, self-timer, exposure settings and macro/manual focus. The zoom frame assist button will quickly zoom out the lens to quickly find a repositioned subject and let you re-zoom instantly by pressing the button again once you've relocated your subject. This feature really helps when you've zoomed in a whole lot because a moving subject will quickly move out of frame.

The top of the camera has a flash release button which allows the flash to pop-up from its compartment. There is also a multi-mode dial with plenty of options in addition to the zoom toggle, shutter release and power button. On the camera's right side, there is a door that hides the mini-HDMI out and USB port. The bottom of the camera houses both the battery and the memory card slot.

We found the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS not too difficult to hold onto despite its larger size, thanks to the smart placement of several grips on the camera's body. We really liked the right thumb rest on the camera's backside, which helped keep many of the buttons at easy reach. In our testing, we found it really necessary to hold the camera as still as possible to get the best shot, especially when using extreme telephoto. You might find it wise to set the camera on a surface or use a stand to get the best results even though it does have optical image stabilization.

Some of the specifications of the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS includes a 12.1-megapixel resolution, a 35x optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 24-840mm, a focal length of 4.3-150.5mm and an aperture range of f/2.7-5.8. ISO speeds range from 3200 to 100 and the shutter speed ranges is rated at 1-1/3200 second. Images can be shot in either JPEG or RAW formats and have a maximum image resolution of 4000 x 3000-pixels. Videos have a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels at 24 frames per second, which means that videos are 1080p full HD quality. The memory media supported by this camera include SD/SDHC/SDXC cards as well as wireless EyeFi SD cards.

This camera is definitely designed for experienced photographers as it offers full manual controls and the ability to control every aspect of the camera. There are also many scene modes and lots of really artistic filters that can bring that added touch to a otherwise average photo. We took particular note of the handheld night scene mode, which combines several frames for higher range and less noise and grain.

Performance with the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS was really great in subjective image tests. The new CMOS sensor that Canon includes in this camera really helps improve the quality of low-light photos, which can sometimes be the downfall of even the best cameras. The visible noise was really quite minimal, even when blown up to their actual size at maximum resolution. Daytime photos were outstanding and definitely at or near top-of-the-class. The huge 35x lens lets you take extreme wide-angle shots with lots of zoom left over. But like we said earlier, you definitely need either an extremely steady hand or a tripod to get the clearest shots.

We found the video quality of the SX40 HS to be only average and not really as sharp and vibrant as we felt the images were. That said, we didn't believe the videos were poor by any means.

The battery life is rated at 380 shots according to CIPA, which is about average compared to other similar cameras.

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