Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Preview

September 30, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | 30 Comments | |
Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Preview Image

First impressions of the new 35x zoom Canon PowerShot SX30 IS compact camera, including some full-size sample photos.

Apart from the obvious changes to the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, like the large zoom and the overall appearance, the features of the SX30 are so similar to the SX20 that I wonder if it’s difficult to tell the two cameras apart. The SX30 has the largest optical zoom of any bridge style camera at 35x, which takes the nicely wide 24mm lens to an eye-watering maximum telephoto setting of 840mm. Perfect for those lazy days when you simply don’t want to walk anywhere.

With 14 megapixel resolution, the SX30 IS sits at 2 megapixels more than the SX20 IS, which is negligible with image quality but could make a difference at high ISO. Other minor changes or updates to make the camera more topical include SDXC compliance, a 2.7" screen which is bigger than the 2.5" screen on the SX20 IS, and it’s also Windows 7 friendly.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Preview

The way the SX30 is designed makes it look quite menacing as it squats down with the flash hanging over the lens barrel. All the buttons are easily located and comfortable to reach while the wheel on the back is easy to use and responsive. I like the grip, it’s comfortable to use and the weight of the camera makes one hand shooting easy. Adding to that the rotating screen for high/low angle shooting or self portraits and the SX30 is a very versatile camera.

Image quality is great at low ISO and the inclusion of an Image Stabiliser is not only welcome but also necessary. Focusing is fast and the camera has a pretty good dynamic range. In fact in my short time with the PowerShot SX30 IS, I was stuck to find anything I didn’t like about it.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Preview

First impressions of the new 35x zoom Canon PowerShot SX30 IS compact camera, including some full-size sample photos.

I like the way that the PowerShot SX30 IS works in all aspects, it’s fast and responsive with what seems like minimal shutter lag. Obviously, the more that I zoomed in the more the camera struggled to cope with the lack of light but that’s to be expected and it still does quite well. Putting it in auto ISO can avoid you having to worry about ISO as well as shutter speeds and apertures, but it can be quite keen to ramp up the setting to ensure the response, so look out for that.

The PowerShot SX30 IS is a worthy camera which, thanks to the massive optical zoom has an even broader market place to open itself up to. Bird and nature photographers, sports and airshow photographers will all benefit from this camera, to name just a few. The quality of the lens is great and the image stabiliser works brilliantly to keep your images still. The colours that the PowerShot SX30 IS produces are true to life although the day I tested it, it was overcast so there were no saturated blue skies, but the colours I did get were realistic.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Preview

Priced at £399, it’s more expensive than some DSLRs but not with that zoom range, so if you need over 800mm of focal length, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS is a worthy option to consider.

Thanks to our friends at Jacobs Photo & Video in Sheffield, UK for this hands on preview.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Preview JPEG Images

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#1 Rob

The shots at the lower and upper ends of the lens are very low in quality. The panoramic wheel has been shot at 150mm: noise and chroma and purple fringing a go-go. The other image with the cathedral (4.3 mm) looks horrible in the corners: details too soft and terrific CA. So sad…

10:41 am - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#2 jelmer

some pics taken in higer iso 4oo, 8oo or more would be nice because you need it when using 840mm..

11:15 am - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#3 C.Y.Leow

Yak! Chroma galore! The quality at long zoom is terrible! What is the point Canon ;)

12:13 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#4 hiddenwarbler

Well, Rob and CYLeow, if SX30 isn’t the best superzoom, which is? Because I don’t think FZ35 can enter into that category anymore. It would be more of a Middle-zoom.
We know this is not a DSLR but, I don’t see the point to criticize and don’t tell us where can we find the real deal, if SX30 is so bad.

12:28 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#5 Mark

Quite disapointing, however don’t despair, perhaps next week’s Canon release will be better!

1:19 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#6 John

It’s easy to be an armchair critic, it just goes to show that there are photographers and then there are gear-heads like “Rob” and “CYLeow”.

I am by no means a Canon ‘fanboy’, I don’t even have a camera of theirs currently and have no intention of buying one (the last Canon I had was a S30 back in 2001!). That said, check this out, the quality looks pretty good for a superzoomer…

(These are not my photos)

4:54 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#7 Dave

Am I missing something?  What is the market for this?  Is this going to be under $300?  This looks bigger than the other travel zoom cameras, and not nearly good enough to compete with SLR’s, or even the FZ-100.

The Canon G12 has everything I want in a camera except for the sensor.  Instead of cobbling together another small sensor and another overextended lens, why can’t Canon just put an MFT sensor in the G12? 

My opinion: Canon could take away the MFT market from Olympus and Panasonic.  Instead, they seem to be going after the market for Coolpix L110’s.

I don’t get it.

4:57 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#8 cho


The reason why you’re not getting it is because I think you’re confused.

You’re trying to compare a megazoom to SLR’s? Why is that? That doesn’t make sense. And are you aware that the FZ100 is priced $70 more than the SX30 with less image quality? Yes the camera is fast and can shoot 1080p, but noise is visible even at ISO 100.

As for the G12, its got a 5x zoom range. How can you call that “overextended”?

This camera is in competition with the likes of HS10. and NOT with SLR’s.

People who purchase cameras such as these are aware of the IQ trade-off. For some people having a compact superzoom is better than spending an extra $1000 just for a zoom lens that weighs more than the camera itself with the size of a small nuclear device. Not everyone is willing to pay and lug around a device like that.

7:35 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#9 Rob

@#6 Dear John,
thanks for the lesson, and also for the “gear-head” appellative.

Best regards.

7:42 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#10 Sett

It seems some people expect this camera to have “L” series quality lenses or something. The link John provided does show some amazing wildlife examples. This is by no means a replacement for a DSLR, but may fill the gap for an amateur who doesn’t want to invest in a lot of lenses.

- Sett

2:34 am - Friday, October 1, 2010

#11 Dan

I was also struck by the noise levels at ISO 100. To me, there’s clearly something wrong there, and it’s not the lens. In my mind, images should not be that noisy at ISO 100. Frankly, with pretty much any modern camera, ISO 100 should be virtually noise free.

The lens is fairly impressive, CA and fringing aside. To get that sort of sort of zoom range in a lens without sacrificing too much IQ is a fairly nice accomplishment. It’s not perfect, but I’ve seen significantly more optical compromises in lenses with significantly shorter focal ranges.

12:03 am - Saturday, October 2, 2010

#12 John Wewege

Feature wise it appears that the SX30 cannot compete with the FZ100, except for the 35x zoom, but how parctical in any event is any zoom range above 24 x?

10:04 am - Saturday, October 2, 2010

#13 T M

Well, I wonder how many said, “How practical in any event is any zoom range above 10x?”, when the FZ100 came out?

So many people think that a 35x zoom is practical that people will be buying the SX30 as fast as Canon can supply them.

6:12 am - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#14 C.Y.Leow

“Arm chair critics”? “Gear Heads”? Ha ha..those that have used 800mm lens please raise your hands :)
Well I have been a photojournalist all my working life and believe you me,it is NOT practical!
We call this type of camera the “KIASU” camera.
Don’t know what Kiasu is? Go find out ;)

10:30 am - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#15 T M

Who really cares if you have been a photojournalist all your working life?  I guess that makes you an expert in all types of photography?

For pro wildlife photographers, the Canon 800 f5.6 is a very practical lens that costs over $10,000.

For amateur photographers the 840mm reach on the SX30 will be practical, especially for under $500.

As a know-it-all photojournalist, you should know that large fees have been paid for terrible-quality images used by The National Enquirer, major newspapers, etc.  I’m sure the SX30 at 840mm will produce images as good or better than some of those images.

Did you ever see the terrible quality images of the assassination of President Kennedy?  Too bad some of those photographers did not have a SX30 at that time.

So maybe you should look up the meaning of “practical”.

5:22 pm - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#16 C.Y.Leow

Ha..ha.. just as I thought, my comment brought out the typical “Kiasu” and “Kiasi” photographer! Fall right into it, don’t you? ;)

7:36 pm - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#17 T M

Ho..ho..just as I thought, no intelligent reply from you, just like your first lame posting.

Try looking up the meanings of “troll” and “flamer”.

In the meantime, Kiasi my Asi.

Go take some cheap shots with your expensive gear.

For your education, P&S cameras outsell DSLR’s by more than 100 to 1.  Why?  Because they find them practical for their needs.

Did you get kicked off a DSLR forum, so you came to Troll a P&S thread?

7:51 pm - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#18 Sett

TM , you want to get a good laugh? Please go to C Y’s blog. Quite the ego there. I’m not even sure WHY he is commenting here….if the equipment is soo far beneath the quality he uses.

Again, this camera should work nicely for the amateur photographer wanting an ultra zoom feature, and not have to worry about hauling around a backpack full of lenses.

8:23 pm - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#19 T M


Yes, if you look at the 3 photos taken in the Grand Century Restaurant, I think that is him in the red & white outfit with the BIG KIASI HEAD.

Seems like he is just a gear snob trolling.  After all, this is a preview about a P&S camera.  For a P&S camera with these features and under $500, I think it is quite an achievement by Canon.

The reality is that quality will not be the greatest, especially at high ISO’s.  But then some people can take better photos with a P&S than others can with a DSLR.

9:25 pm - Sunday, October 3, 2010

#20 Sheldon Reich

I have the entry level SX—the 120—and it is a very capable camera. It’s not an SLR, I use an Oly E-system DSLR as my main gear. My point is I think Canon knows where the market’s sweet spot is: lots of models for everyone from Granma to a pro who can afford $20K for gear.

Did you know that according to the PMA, the most images taken are between 3 and 5 MP? More than enough resolution for a screen. Where’s that number from? All the camera phones in use!

My requirement for a P&S was it had to have manual controls and a dial. I didn’t want a touch screen or need video. My iPod Touch 4G takes incredible HD video (if I ever need it).

3:25 pm - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#21 Otavio

Cho, thanks for the excellent comment. To compare apples to apples, can anyone comment how SX30 images compare to Fuji’s HS10 ?

4:02 pm - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#22 LJ

John Wewege (or anyone else):  Can you pls elaborate on your comment comparing the sx30 with the fz100?  I am interested in both of these cameras and, if it helps, I am a novice who wishes a camera that will help me along now and as I become more skilled and knowledgeable.


5:04 am - Monday, October 11, 2010

#23 Klinkie

The link John posted on 30th September has to my mind excellent photo’s. I did notice however that the lens was at 500mm. I have a question that is very important to me. When using a SLR on portret you get the background blurred. I wanted to know if this camera does the same. Looking at the above link that seems the case (at least if it hasn’t been photoshopped)

1:51 pm - Monday, October 11, 2010

#24 clif

It only took me about 5 minutes handling the canon to make me go ahead and purchase the Fuji HS10. The canon was very plastic, power zoom control was spastic, had a mind of it’s own, pictures were very soft at long zoom, again, a small screen, very slow autofocus, memory card in battery compt, come on canon. No manual or internal memory. Look at the Fuji HS10, it’s an easier camera to handle with better controls and man do I love that big manual zoom lens.

10:54 pm - Friday, October 15, 2010

#25 Jeremy

Here is a full zoom test I put together for the Canon SX30 IS

3:58 pm - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#26 C.Y.Leow

Able to do that does not a good camera made ;) There are so much camera shake at that long range, getting a sharp picture will be difficult; unless of course you use a tripod.

7:59 pm - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#27 andy

okay Haters, go find me a dslr and a f2.2 -f8.8 850mm 0mm macro fish eye lens for £300 and ill bin my sx-30!

I have laid down the gauntlet!

3:24 pm - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#28 Sara

Need help, have this camera and love it, except for some reason my photos when downloaded are all small files i.e. 145kb even if I have camera set to biggest photo size/resolution. What am I doing wrong, and yes I’m an amateur photo buff so be kind with comments : )  Thanks.

10:53 pm - Thursday, March 31, 2011

#29 clif

I bought one at Fred Meyer for $339 brand new. Great price but not so great camera. Zoom lens and auto focus have minds of their own. Picture quality kind of needs help, not very sharp at all. If you still have your sx20 or sx10 you won’t gain very much when moving to this camera. Way too much zoom to handle without a tripod with such a light camera. The electronic viewfinder is tiny and not very useful in bright sunshine. My Fuji S1800 takes sharper pictures which proves more money doesn’t always mean better results. If I could still buy a new sx10 I would buy one over the sx30 in a minute. This offers a big lens and more gadgets but thats about it, not better pictures. Maybe I just bought a flawed camera but even the sx20 wasn’t as good as the sx10. I took the canon back and will wait for the Fuji hs20, seems like a lot more camera than this one. You would think for the money they would at least include the lens hood and a full manual.

7:54 pm - Monday, April 4, 2011

#30 subrata

hi, i want to buy a zooming camera. i have confused between Canon SX30 IS and Nikon P500. Please somebody help me.
which one will be best for picture quality…?

6:00 am - Wednesday, April 13, 2011