As a consumer-friendly digital model that comes ready to deliver straight out the box, Canon’s PowerShot SX40 HS has more than a few advantages over similarly priced point-and-shoot models. It is small and lightweight, making it an excellent compact choice for on-the-go shooting and it has tremendous versatility in its lens. Not only is it a remarkable machine in terms of its ability to deliver a vast array of distinctly different images, but it performs equally well with beginner and/or first-time photographers as it does with seasoned professionals who might want to grab it as an amazingly useful second camera with great range.
The star of the PowerShot SX40 is its retractable lens, which easily switches between wide-angle, normal, and zoom settings (as determined by a move of a lever that toggles between positions marked by either one tree—telephoto—or three trees—wide angle). You’ll have a ball zooming in and out (with exact metering noted on the lens itself) and reviewing all your choices leaving you nearly guaranteed to get the exact shot you’re after every time. Better still, you can quickly go from shooting still photos to HD video in just one move. You’ll want to take this camera everywhere; it would be just as fantastic on weekend getaways, trips, and vacations as it would at rock concerts, school plays, or while snapping daily shots for your blog or website.
With more than 12-megapixels and Canon’s popular DIGIC 5 image processor, the images produced by the PowerShot SX40 are finely detailed and have tremendous accuracy for a modestly priced compact digital. In fact, a better point and shoot camera would be hard to find. It earns high marks both for reproducing realistic color and skin tones and performing well in low-light situations with relatively little noise (while shooting with the lowest-possible ISO setting at 100).
Crisp details, vibrant colors, and bright whites are easily achieved with little thought while you can devote more time and energy into thinking about how to best compose your shots. Instead of settling on one format or composition, the PowerShot SX40 enables users to shoot wide landscapes (24mm to be exact), zoom in for a tighter “normal” 50mm lens shot, and then zoom in further—up to 35 times closer—in telephoto. With such an incredible range you’ll never again miss a shot or struggle with a bad camera angle. The best part is that you have that tremendous versatility without having to carry around or change bulky lenses. And the 35X zoom retractable lens is actually optimized to remain stable no matter the metering, thereby decreasing your chances of getting a blurry shot.
Obtaining successive shots is distinctly more difficult, as the speed of Canon’s consumer-pro hybrids isn’t nearly as fast as its professional DSLRs, but those with patience will be aptly rewarded. Excellent shots are easy to achieve in all situations and the PowerShot SX40 has plenty of manual and automatic features. Consumers will also welcome its large LCD screen, which flips and reverses 180 degrees to capture either a live still or video image or individual images in playback mode for review and/or editing.)
Of course, every camera model has its drawbacks. In general, this camera is somewhat slower than more expensive models, meaning that it takes several seconds to refocus after playback (something that can be slightly remedied by shortening the length of playback time), so shooting consecutive shots quickly can be problematic without shooting “blind,” for instance. While this will not be an issue for most, some photographers shooting a sporting event for one example, may get frustrated waiting for the camera to focus.
Professionals using the PowerShot SX40 may miss its ability to shoot RAW images, and this model also lacks the fancier in-camera post-production editing features seen in more expensive models. Still, beginners will likely not consider either difference, nor will they miss having enormous files consume tons of space on their hard drives. And any post-production editing can be done just as easily on the software provided by Canon that comes in the PowerShot kit. The feature that most experienced DSLR users may truly miss, however, is the camera’s inability to zoom into existing images on playback. Users may only review images as whole, so it’s impossible to see how accurate focus is before coming home and loading your shots on a larger screen.
Even with those missing features, the PowerShot SX40 is a great value for those looking for a basic model. It’s an excellent camera for students, families, or anyone seeking a versatile camera that shoots images that surpass camera phone shots by miles (but without having to lug around a heavy pro model and a bunch of interchangeable lenses). After all, few people are changing lenses on their iPhones and there’s only so much you can do with portable photo-manipulation applications, such as Instagram or Picnic, without having a quality photo with which to manipulate.
However, if you’re after a camera that you can take with you in the trenches, or one that shoots hundreds of images daily, you should likely invest in a more professional model, such as one made to withstand more use. The Canon PowerShot models are made for average consumer use; they are not manufactured for professionals who are out in the field shooting for hours and hours at a time. And while the PowerShot SX40 seems like a massive step-up from previous models (both in aesthetics and design as well as intuitiveness) it remains a model designed for the average consumer, not professional photographer.
Most photographers, however, will be very impressed with this camera. Having a greater range of lens choices is among the best ways to learn to “see” your images and this camera offers more than most in that department. The overall quality of the photographs is decent, and users will be able to get the camera to perform well in most light situations with a few modifications making the PowerShot SX40 among the best consumer digitals on the market today.