Canon PowerShot SX730 HS Review
Canon’s newest superzoom travel compact camera, the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS, builds on the specifications of its predecessor, the SX720. The Canon PowerShot SX730 HS features a 20.3 megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, and a 40x optical zoom which is equivalent to 24-960mm in 35mm terms. These specifications are shared with its predecessor, as well other features including Full HD video recording and a Digic 6 processor. Where there is a difference is that the new Canon PowerShot SX730 HS has a tilting-screen, which is useful for taking selfies. There’s also the introduction of Bluetooth connectivity which means you can maintain an “always-on” connection with your phone. The Canon PowerShot SX730 HS retails for £379 / $399.
Ease of Use
The Canon PowerShot SX730 HS, like the SX720 before it, is an impressively slim camera considering the 40x optical zoom lens it houses. On the front of the camera is a slightly protruding grip which has a rubberised texture on part of it to help it feel secure in your hand.
Canon has increased the size of the SX730 ever so slightly in order to accommodate a new tilting-screen, but it’s not a hugely noticeable increase and you can still comfortably fit the camera into your pocket (apart from extremely tight jeans pockets, perhaps).
There aren’t a huge amount of differences between the newer model and the predecessor, but there have been a couple of button switch arounds. For example, the mode dial now sits on top of the camera (from the back), while the Zoom Frame Assist button has moved from the side of the camera to a more obvious place on its back.
|Front of the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS|
The top of the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS sees the shutter release, which is surrounded by the zoom switch. It feels reasonably sturdy, and zooming the lens in and out is quite a fluid movement - being neither too quick nor too slow. There’s also a video record button and an on/off switch. It can be all too easy to press the video record button when you’re first getting used to the camera, but Canon has placed them reasonably apart enough to get used to knowing where each one is.
As already mentioned, the mode dial is now on top of the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS. Enthusiasts will be pleased to see a full range of semi-automatic and manual modes, such as aperture priority and shutter priority. There’s also of course a full complement of automatic options, including the interesting “Hybrid Auto” mode. This mode works by capturing a 2-second video before each shot is taken and compiling them together at the end of each calendar day. It can be great for holidays and events where you get a bonus video to accompany your images - on the downside, you can’t edit what appears in the video, which would be even better.
|Rear of the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS|
A new mode added because of the new tilting-screen is selfie mode. This is found on the mode dial, and allows you to change the background blur and the amount of skin smoothing you want to apply to your image. You can apply skin smoothing in other modes, too, if you like, but it’s directly accessible here. Also on top of the camera is the camera’s flash which you need to use a small catch on the side of the camera to release when you want to use it.
On the back of the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS, the buttons are grouped to the right hand side, which is beneficial if you’re using the camera one handed. The buttons are perhaps a little on the small side, which is something to consider if you have particularly large hands. They’re also a little cramped together, which can make things a little awkward at times.
There’s a scrolling dial, which is used for a variety of different things depending on the shooting mode you’re in. For example, if you’re working in aperture priority, moving the dial will alter aperture. You can also use it in playback to move through the images you have already taken. The scrolling dial also doubles up as a four-way navigational pad, with each of the directional keys having a specific function assigned to it. Up controls exposure compensation, left switches on manual or macro focusing, down changes the camera’s display, and right is used for altering the flash mode.
|Tilting LCD Screen|
Four more buttons surround the scrolling dial which have various functions. One of the most useful buttons is the Zoom Frame Assist button, which as mentioned has moved from the side of the camera to the back. It’s used when shooting at long telephoto lengths - if you lose sight of your subject, hold down the Zoom Frame Assist button and the lens will momentarily zoom back out until you find it again. Release the button and the zoom will return to the same focal length you were previously using. It’s a great way to keep track of subjects at the longer focal lengths, especially if the subject moves.
Another button gives you direct access to the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS’s Wi-Fi settings. The first time you press it, you’ll be asked to set-up the camera ready for connection. Once connected you can send images across to your phone for quick sharing, or remotely control the camera from your phone. That makes it useful for group shots or perhaps even some awkward angles. You can also pair with your phone using Bluetooth, which means that an always-on low-powered connection will be maintained. You can use this to remotely control the camera, but you’ll need the higher power of Wi-Fi if you want to see a live view output to your phone.
The final two of the four buttons are the playback button, and the main menu button. There’s also a central button in the middle of the navi pad which has a couple of useful functions. If you press it when in normal shooting mode, you’ll bring up the “function” menu, which acts as a quick menu, giving you access to a number of different settings that you might want to change reasonably frequently, such as ISO speed and white balance. The central button can also be used as a confirmation button for certain settings. Unfortunately it’s not possible to customise the camera to assign different functions to different buttons.
|The Canon PowerShot SX730 HS In-hand|
Despite offering full manual control, there are a couple of let-downs for enthusiast photographers here with the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS. For a start, it’s not capable of shooting in raw format - giving you just the choice between standard and super fine JPEGs. Secondly, there’s no option to change the focus point. For AF modes you can choose between Face AiAF, Tracking AF and a single frame in the centre. The latter means you need to focus and recompose if you want to photograph something on the edge of the frame.
Due to the length of the 40x optical zoom lens, the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS takes a couple of seconds to start up and be ready to shoot. If you have plans to take a lot of shots in quick succession, you’d do well to leave the camera switched on. Otherwise, the camera is very quick in operation, moving through images in playback with no hesitation.
Autofocusing speeds in good light are very quick, dropping a little as the light darkens, but there’s an AF assist lamp on hand to help with that if you’re shooting somewhere very dark.