Canon PowerShot SX30 IS review: First look

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS is Canon’s latest entry in the super zoom bridge camera field that’s become rather crammed in 2010. It’s just gone on sale, and we got a chance to take one around London town to test out its insane 35x optical zoom. And yeah, it’s insane. See for yourself in our Canon PowerShot SX30 IS review: First look.

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS’s big USP isn’t its 14 megapixel sensor, or the fact that it shoots 720p HD video. It’s the positively telescopic 35x optical zoom, which can extend to 144x digital zoom. That alone is stunning, but what struck us today is just how well implemented it is. There’s scope for an awful lot to go wrong when zoomed in so far, but Canon’s catered for that.

The zoom barrel is sturdy and doesn't feel likely to break

While nothing really stood out about the image quality of the snaps taken with the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS mid to close range, the stabilisation on super zoom shots was nothing short of sensational – even in low light, and even with our shaky hands. The snap below of the BT Tower was taken on Primrose Hill on North London – just to give you some idea of how close, how in focus it stays, even at 35x. Oh, and by the way, the BT Tower is two miles away from Primrose Hill.

The 35x zoom in operation: the BT tower from two miles away

That our shots even vaguely resemble buildings at this distance is incredible, though of course we hope no one goes using its skills to a nefarious end. We’re also quite taken with the quick zoom out button on the top right of the back face, Hold it down and you can pan out to track a moving object more easily, then snap right back in again.

Build wise, the Canon PowerShot X30IS is nice and sturdy, with a lens barrel that doesn’t feel at all rickety, and nice smooth plastic that won’t smudge. The 2.7-inch swivelling LCD screen is eminently visible even in broad daylight (Though perhaps a bit prone to oversaturation). The mode dial on the top of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS feels a bit too tough to twist without a considered effort, but we’re nitpicking.

There's a dedicated video record button above the screen

You can check out two sample HD videos we shot with it below – one in daylight on an open top bus, and another indoors in low light. We suggest sticking around for the latter, if only to see ice cream being made with liquid nitrogen (seriously).

Canon does HD video well, and the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS manages 720p video in daylight with aplomb – you can see it start to crumble under the weight of noise indoors, but it’s silky smooth throughout, and the audio is impressive.

Check out our Best Canon camera Top 5 now

The takeaway from our morning spent with the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS? This isn’t a camera worth paying much mind to if you’ve ever owned a DSLR, but for any prolific holiday snappers who wants a truly versatile, all in one solution that’ll keep them happy for years to come, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS looks ideal.

Stay tuned for a full review shortly

We’ll have a full Canon PowerShot SX30 IS review for you shortly, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know about it, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll endeavour to answer it for you.

  • Eman Zaman

    This looks the size of a DSLR so why not just go for a proper low-end DSLR?

    • Vallkilm

      A low end dslr will not have this quality

    • Rob_techsupport

      ….because a proper DSLR won't have that massive zooming range, and that it would cost thousands to get similar 800mm range is a separate DSLR range.
      sacrifice some image quality, BUT I can get a shot of sweat on a lineman's forehead if I want to, now THAT's what I call FUN! Try to do that for under $ 500.00. Furthermore, unless you get one of the newer Sony DSLR'S (like the 55a), virtually every DSLR I tried takes ages to focus during videos compared to these new compact zooms (actually, most DSLR's do not even AF on video yet)

      DSLR have their own market and qualities, but these superzoom are something special…

    • Arthur2933

      Because a low end DSLR costs plenty more than this camera.

  • MJ

    Include sharply focussed image samples of people so that the rendering of flesh tones and graininess can be evaluated.

  • Earl Michael

    Can you give an estimate of the shutter delay, my images taken with compact digital cameras are often of the space where the subject was when I triggered the shutter release.

  • Kr Blackman

    Filters? what size and type of filters can be used on this camera, the thread looks like 50mm? or can you only use filters using an adapter? can filters be used with lens hood?

  • Gjaldaym


    Thanks for the First Look review. :)

    I'm still torn whether to purchase the Canon SX30 IS or the Panasonic Lumix FZ100.
    I'm not a pro photographer but I'd like to upgrade my old Canon A530 and try out something new.

    With the reviews that I've read, I find Panasonic's FZ100 promising in terms of photos (MOS sensor; 11 fps burst shooting) and in a way, movies (Full HD). If I purchase Canon, I'll be paying for the zoom, extra fun effects and its ease of use (since I'm used to it).

    It would really help if you could post some photos and perhaps a comparison review with the FZ100.

    Thanks! :)

  • Rob_techsupport

    I had purchased the Lumix FZ-100 because it had more features, BUT image quality was not to my liking AND this thing was complicatied to operate (much harder than my Nikon DSLR) having complex menus with ridiculously small buttons to operate it. Also, could never get the AVCHD video to play back without fiddling a lot.

    SO…I returned the FZ-100 after 4 days and exchanged it for the Canon SX30 IS.

    Better image quality, MUCH, MUCH EASIER to operate. And this means I will use it more…

  • Stephanie_exendine

    will this camera work for me if i need to take low light concert photographs?

    • Jenniferlucyallan

      Stephanie, yes it will, although the low light isn't magical. the zoom will be a treat in concerts, but getting lighting right for gig photography is a dark art and i don't think many bridge cameras are up to getting it spot on. i think you'll still come out with some noisy photos with this, but at least you'll be able to get some good close ups, and it's not to weighty to carry around all night.

  • Jorge Rodriguez

    I've owned all of Canon's super-zoom Powershots from the S1 up to my current SX10 IS. I was willing to upgrade my SX10 to the SX20 earlier this year, but I had the opportunity to test it (my cousin bought one) and I was very very dissapointed by it. I'm not sure if the unit my cousin got was defective or something, but I noticed the following problems: Focusing problems, image quality issues, very low quality on the LCD screen and even putting the lens hood on was a painful experience.

    My SX10 is a wonderful camera: Great image quality, sharp and fast focus system, long battery life (with my 2500mha rechargeables), video and sound quality is great (even though is not HD)… have you guys used the SX10 in the past and could give your insight compared to this new SX30 ?? of course beyond the obvious differences in terms of HD video capability, the 35x zoom and higher megapixel count (which in my opinion is the least important).

Hot chat, right here!

Our most commented stories right now...