02 January 2013

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS - The road to my first ultra-zoom camera

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
Over the years I never really bothered owning anything other than a few Canon PowerShot A-Series digital cameras (A520 / A590). Nothing more than a few point-and-shoot holiday photos and for the fundamental understanding of the digital photography process and my hands-on Canon IT sales experience. But all changed in September 2012 while researching a client's requirement for a high-quality, ultra-zoom / telephoto digital camera, but preferably not a Canon EOS DSLR camera.

As an independent Canon IT product re-seller I consulted the Canon PowerShot pricelist and looked at the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS with 35x zoom lens, but it was discontinued and replaced with the more powerful PowerShot SX40 HS. On Canon’s USA website I was greeted with the esthetically beautiful and spec-impressive new 35x zoom lens PowerShot SX30 replacement. With it's 35x ultra zoom, Digic 5 Image Processor, 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and Full HD video format I was more than impressed with the Powershot SX40 HS. I wanted one as well. And as quick as possible.

Canon camera research / purchase
After the product and price research and my countless review readings my client (WPCA / Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras marketing) purchased the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS with one 32 GB Philips SD Memory card (and Lowepro camera bag). As a non-DSLR camera the SX40 HS is ideally suited for their Social Media / internal marketing and general photo and short HD video requirement. Before delivery I had a weekend opportunity for setup and testing the SX40. With its ultra zoom and automatic image stabilser I took some great looking photos straight out the box. All on automatic and all true what most (professional) reviewers had to say about this camera.

Deciding between the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS or SX50 HS (for myself)
At time of ordering I had the choice between the SX40 and the newly available SX50 (with 50x zoom and other enhancements). It took some deliberation to work through the decision-making process, but at the end based my decision on the following criteria:
Same camera as client (decreased learning curve / quick support)
SX40 received very good to excellent reviews from professionals / current owners
Extended zoom and other enhancements on SX50 not a deal-breaker (for me)
SX50 was R1000-00 more expensive (at time of purchase)
Used the balance of my budget to invest in a Manfrotto tripod

Ordering, unpacking and 'shooting'
I ordered my SX40 HS camera from the Canon distributor early December 2012 and collected the product almost immediately. As with the client's SX40 the camera was exceptionably well packaged (as always from Canon) and started taking some decent looking photos after its first battery charge (included NB-10L lithium-ion battery was charged in 1.5 hours and last for up to +- 380 shots).

The operating and menu-system is typical Canon and I was quite impressed with standard / automatic point-and-shoot arrangements and image stabilisation. Its early days, but have started experimenting with the myriad of functions and settings.

Basic photography hardware / software home-office setup
Here some of the equipment I aquired / added to compliment the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS:

  • 2x 16 GB (Class 10) Philips SD memory cards
  • Multi-purpose camera bag
  • Manfrotto MKC3-H01 compact tripod 
For the occasional printing of photographs its hooked-up to my existing Canon Pixma MG 4160 colour multifunction printer. Once again a quality Canon product to suite a low to medium home/office budget. Great scanning/copying and automatic duplex printer with both USB and Wi-Fi connectivity.

For downloading photographs, image management and post-production I just use Google Picaso at the moment, but started experimenting with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.3 for more enhanced post-production (with my dual -display and workstation setup).

DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot / Bridge Cameras
The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is not a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera and with its 35x optical ultra-zoom lens, LCD and Electronic viewfinder (EVF) is not a point-and-shoot camera either. By many it is refered to as a Bridge camera for 'bridging the gap' between the higher-end DSLR and entry-level digital camera technologies. More information on bridge cameras - read.

At this stage I am more than satisfied with my choice of Canon PowerShot bridge camera. There is still some significant learning, but with sustained confidence in Canon quality an plenty subject experiments I should be up to the task. Herewith a few photographs taken at my first real opportunity recently.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
Canon PowerShot SX40HS