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I have never really seriously been tempted to buy the previous Canon PowerShot cameras, almost always opting for the Panasonic FZ cameras instead, but this time it is different. Announced in September 2010, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera is a huge improvement on the older Canon bridge cameras, like the the SX20 IS.

Main Features

The stand out feature of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS is it's lens. With a 35x optical zoom, it's the 35mm equivalent of a 24-840mm lens, which is huge. This focal range would see you carrying bags full of incredibly pricey lenses on a regular digital SLR. Instead, this bridge camera, with a single non-interchangeable lens makes it far cheaper and easier to carry a camera that can get you right up close to the action.

An Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) ensures your zoom transitions are smooth and judder free.

Image Stabilization

The Canon PowershotSX30 IS has an excellent Image stabilization mechanism, which is essential on a camera with this zoom range, however I would still suggest using some sort of stability like a tripod wherever possible to get the best results (see: Best Tripods for Travel & Safari).

The massive focal range is backed up by respectably bright apertures of f/2.7 and f/5.8 at either end, while the 4.5-stop image stabilisation system is better than many Canon pro lenses.

Zoom Framing Assist

This is a very useful feature because when you are shooting with maximum zoom it can be difficult to keep track of a distant subject. At the press of a button Zoom Framing Assist quickly zooms out of the scene alowing you to then locate the subject again and put it back in the original frame. The camera then zooms back in when you release the button.

Tele Conversion Lens

If you want to extend a camera's reach even more (and who doesn't), the solution is to add a tele-converter lens. This is not possible on all bridge cameras and is often one of the main reasons I usually opt for the Panasonic's that make it incredibly easy. - see more on Telephoto Conversion Lenses for the Panasonic DMC-FZ100.

Although I have not tested it, after a little research, I have been able to find out that it is technically possible to add a teleconverter lens to this Canon SX30 powershot.

Canon supply an optional lens Filter Adapter (FA-DC67A) that allows the attachment of 67mm filters such as the Canon PL-C B 67mm polarizer filter. This filter adapter will thus provide you with a 67mm Lens thread to attach teleconverter lenses to it using step-up or step down rings. For example the Olympus 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17) uses a 55mm thread, so first you would attach the lens Filter Adapter (FA-DC67A) to the camera, then use a 67->55mm stepdown ring to which you could connect the TCON17 converter. I must stress however that I have not tested the results of this and would love some feedback if there is anyone out there who has.

Image Quality

This Canon uses a 1/2.3 " CCD sensor with an effective 14.1million pixels and can produce images with a maximum resolution of 4320 x 3240 pixels. Which should easily be enough for the printing of large A2+ prints.

For examples of images taken with the camera take a look at this Canon SX30 IS group on Flickr

Back of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Camera, showing the Vari-angle LCDVari-angle LCD

One feature I really like on this camera is the vari-angle 2.7 inch LCD display, that is slightly bigger than the SX20's. The advantage of this is that it folds away when not in use as well as being useful in a wide variety of shooting situations giving you maximum flexibility when framing your shots. It also protects the LCD screen from getting scratched when folded away.

High Definition Video

The PowerShot SX20 IS can record HD video at 720p resolution although this still falls short of full HD 1920x1080 pixel video. Having said that, the 720p HD video quality should be more than adequate for most users and situations.

It boasts stereo sound courtesy of microphones positioned either side of its lens, plus a dedicated button at the rear that activates the video feature whichever shooting mode you're in. Marked by a red dot that universally signifies a record button, this falls readily under the user's thumb at the rear of the camera. You can also take advantage of the 35x zoom during recording and also use some of the creative filters, such as Miniature and and Colour Swap, to spice up your footage.

The inclusion of an HDMI mini port makes it easy to playback footage on compatible TVs. The all-digital HDMI connection offers numerous benefits, including an incredible level of picture detail and reproduction of the PowerShot SX30 IS’s CD-quality stereo sound.

Size and Battery
The SX30 IS has a pleasing and tough hard plastic body with a large hand-grip, ad it is surprisingly not as big as the SX20's thanks mostly to the replacement of that camera's four AA batteries with a more conventional lithium-ion battery.

The overall weight of 601g adds a definite feeling of solidity and the matt black finish lends an overall air of sophistication. If you're looking for a camera that will easily fit into a jacket pocket, however, think again. At 123 x 92 x 108mm the SX30 IS' dimensions are not much more compact than an entry-level DSLR, but where you do save space compared to a DSLR is the fact that you don't need to carry separate large (and expensive) telephoto lenses.

Weak Points

Compared to other bridge cameras that I have used, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS suffers from lag. When turning the camera on, and waiting for it to start up and also when shooting. What is also disappointing is that in Burst Mode, the camera can only manage two shots per second, which is poor if taking snaps of fast moving objects like birds.

One thing the SX30 IS still omits that several competing super-zoom cameras include is RAW capture, which really would have made this an appealing proposition for current DSLR owners looking for a second camera.

Cost & Where to Buy

One of the main advantages of a SuperZoom camera over a digital SLR is that they are far cheaper and the Canon SX30 is no exception:

UK Shoppers UK Shoppers
Buy this camera in the UK:

US Shoppers US Shoppers
Buy this camera in the USA:

 

PowerShot SX30 IS vs Panasonic FZ100

Panasonic and in particular their FZ series of cameras are some of my favorite cameras to take on safari, so I thought it would be useful to compare their latest superzoom bridge camera, the Panasonic FZ100 with this Canon.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Digital Camera
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

Street price: $375 • £329

$369 • £349

Zoom tele (T): 600mm (24x)
Wide-angle: 25mm
Aperture range: F2.8 - F5.4
Continuous Drive: 11fps & 60fps
Min shutter: 60sec
Max shutter: 1/2000sec
ISO rating: Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, Intelligent ISO

840mm (35x)
24mm
F2.7 - F5.8
0.6 fps
15sec
1/3200sec
Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600

Max Res: 4320 x 3240
Effective pixels: 14.1 million
Censor Type: CMOS
Sensor size: 1/2.33 " (6.13 x 4.60 mm, 0.28 cm²)

4320 x 3240
14.1 million
CCD
1/2.3 " (6.16 x 4.62 mm, 0.28 cm²)

Metering: Intelligent Multiple, Center, Spot
Exposure compensation:
-2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV Steps

Evaluative, Center, Spot

-2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV steps

LCD Size: 3"
LCD Dots: 460,000
Built-in Flash: Yes, Pop-up
Flash range: 9.5m
External flash: Yes, Hot-shoe

2.7"
230,000
Yes, Pop-up
6.8m
Yes, Hot-shoe

Max Movie: 1920 x 1080 (FSH: 17Mbps / FH:13Mbps)

1280 x 720 (HD 30 fps)

Dimensions: 124x82x95mm
Weight (+ batteries): 540g (19 oz)
Battery: Lithium-Ion rechargeable

123 x 92 x 108mm
601g (21.2 oz)
Lithium-Ion NB-7L rechargeable

Add Telephoto Lens: Yes, easily

Yes, but not so easy

 

Video comparing Bird photography as well as video with the Canon SX30 IS and Panasonic Lumix FZ100 cameras

In Conclusion

Although the camera is packed with many other quality features, it is the huge 35x zoom that stands out and so if you are looking for the most powerful superzoom bridge camera currently on the market, then the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS digital camera is the one for you.

Further Reading

Best Superzoom Cameras 2016

Alternatives


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

With a super powerful 24x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 600mm), much higher 14.1 MP image resolution, rotating LCD screen, movie recording in full HD and a 25mm ultra wide angle lens, this is the best superzoom compact digital camera on the market and an ideal safari holiday companion.

>> Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Digital Camera


Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXRFujifilm FinePix HS20EXR

The successor to the very popular FinePix HS10 from Fujifilm, comes very powerful Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR with it's 30x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 720mm), much higher 16 MP image resolution, faster auto focus and movie recording in full 1080p HD. This camera has to be one of the very best for taking with you on any safari holiday.

>> Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR Camera Review


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 (FZ40)

The successor to the very popular FZ38 (FZ35) from Panasonic, comes with a more powerful 24x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 600mm), much higher 14.1 MP image resolution, faster auto focus and movie recording in full HD. Cheaper than the FZ100, yet with many of it's features it makes the ideal superzoom camera for those on a budget.

>> Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 (FZ40) Digital Camera


Related Articles

Below are some more articles that you may also find useful:

The Best Digital Superzoom cameras for SafarisThe Best Compact Superzoom Cameras for Safari

If you do decide that a superzoom compact camera, rather than a digital SLR, here is our guide to the best compact super zoom safari cameras. Includes features to look out for and review of the top two cameras with a side by side comparison.

>> Best Safari Camera (compact superzooms)




Visit The Africa Guide for desert, dune, wildlife, people and culture photography

 


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Best Cameras for Safari Digital Cameras for Safari

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Telephoto Conversion Lenses Telephoto Lenses for Panasonic Digital Cameras

Guide to Telephoto Conversion Lenses like the 2.2x Raynox DCR-2025PRO for superzoom bridge cameras like the Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR and the Panasonic DMC-FZ100, FZ45 (FZ40), & FZ38 Digital Cameras. Learn how a telephoto lense can turn your SuperZoom camera into a MegaZoom camera, bringing the action ever closer to you. >> more


Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Review Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Review


The very powerful Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR with it's 42x optical zoom (1000mm equivalent), very high quality 16 MP image resolution, super fast auto focus and movie recording in full 1080p HD at 60fps. This camera has to be one of the very best safari holiday cameras on the market.

For more information read the full review of the Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Bridge Camera >>


Safari Photography


Steiner Safari BinocularsAfter your camera, a good pair of binoculars is crucial in getting the most out of your Safari Holiday. So what is a good pair of binoculars? Here is my binocular guide and recommendations >> Binocular Reviews

 

 

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