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Canon PowerShot SX40 HS review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £375
inc VAT

A little slow, but immaculate image quality should compensate for people who are happy to take their time over photos


1/2.3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 35.0x zoom (24-840mm equivalent), 600g

Expert Reviews is proud to bring you this Canon PowerShot SX40 HS review from Short Sharp Reviews – click through to YouTube for a 1080p HD version

For a while it looked as though bulky, expensive bridge cameras were going to be squeezed out of the market by entry-level SLRs and compact system cameras, but the latest generation has come back fighting. Optical zoom ranges are now reaching the mid-thirties, and with burst speeds in excess of 10fps, these cameras are well equipped for sports and wildlife photography. They excel for video capture, too, with most offering 1080p capture and effective autofocus while recording. Those big zooms help for video, too, letting the user shoot from a distance so people in front of the camera don’t feel too self-conscious.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS top

The SX40 HS arrives with all its vital statistics in order: a 35x zoom stretching from an ultra-wide-angle 24mm all the way to 840mm, 1080p AVC videos and 10.3fps burst shooting. There’s a hotshoe underneath a plastic protective cover, an electronic viewfinder and an articulated LCD screen. Both screens are on the small side. We’re used to these viewfinders being small, but the screen’s 2.7in size and 230,000-dot resolution are disappointing for the price. It didn’t impact too heavily in normal use but manual focus was tricky to judge, despite the assistance of a digital magnify function while adjusting.

The full complement of manual exposure modes is included, and we like how the preview image becomes brighter or darker to reflect exposure settings. However, those who like to tinker with exposure will be dismayed at its inability to save photos in RAW format.

Focus control is particularly important in an ultra-zoom camera, as telephoto shots have a shallow depth of field so choosing the right focus point is critical. As such, it’s great to see a dedicated button for moving the focus point around the frame. There’s also a track focus option for tracking moving subjects, although it didn’t seem as reliable as other implementations we’ve seen.

Another button momentarily pulls back the zoom, providing a cure to the common problem of losing the subject when working at long telephoto focal lengths. A custom button can be assigned to one of 15 functions including AE lock, white balance, aspect ratio and burst mode. We’d have liked one or two more physical buttons to give direct access to more of these functions.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS back

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 recently raised the bar for performance, and the SX40 IS can’t match it. Its 10fps burst mode lasts for eight frames, which isn’t far off the FZ150’s 12fps for 12 frames, but it’s only available as a scene preset that prohibits control to virtually every other setting. For full control – or for burst shooting that lasted longer than a second – we had to settle for 2.1fps with fixed focus or 0.8fps with continuous autofocus. By contrast, the FZ150 managed 5.4fps with continuous autofocus, slowing to 2.7fps after 22 shots.

Another concern is over autofocus performance and general shot-to-shot times, with the latter averaging 2.8 seconds in our tests. That’s four times slower than the FZ150, which came in at 0.7 seconds. Not everyone feels the urge to fire off a shot every second, but it’s a useful technique for ensuring that fleeting moments aren’t missed. Meanwhile, the FZ150’s quicker autofocus could make the difference between catching the perfect shot and missing it.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder electronic (202,000 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 2.7in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 35.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 24-840mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 24fps
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 380 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB cable
Weight 600g
Size 93x123x108mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £375

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 15 to 1/3,200 seconds
Aperture range f/2.7-8 (wide), f/5.8-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 6 presets, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, red, green, blue, skin tone, i-Contrast
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 0cm
Auto-focus modes centre, flexible spot/multi, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, focus bracket

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