Canon Powershot SX40 HS review

Is it time to upgrade to the SX40?

Canon Powershot SX40
Canon's new bridge camera features a 35x zoom lens

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Canon powershot sx40

As with many bridge cameras of its ilk, the SX40 uses the familiar miniature DSLR styling, complete with grip to the right and the faux lens release button mentioned earlier.

The controls are laid out in a similar manner to that of a DSLR, with an exposure dial at the top of the camera that uses the same styling as Canon's DSLR range. In addition, to Av (Aperture Priority), Tv (Shutter Priority) and Manual this has icons to set the standard Auto options, scene modes and video recording.

Unlike a DSLR, however, the lens is zoomed via a switch around the shutter release button. Zooming is quick and smooth, and those ultrasonic motors do a good job of keeping it near on silent as well.

On the rear of the camera, you'll find a good array of buttons sensibly arranged in easy to reach places. The Zoom Framing Assist button, used to zoom briefly zoom out of a scene when the lens is fully extended is a handy addition and comes in useful when trying to compose a faraway scene. Changing the focus point can also be done via a button on the back of the camera, though it's somewhat disappointing to note that this only works in manual modes (Av, Tv, P and M). In Auto mode, the button is used instead to toggle between Face Detection On and Off.

The menu is again something that will already be familiar to Canon users. Handily, the Function button in the centre of the jog dial can be pressed for quick access to commonly used settings, allowing for rapid adjustments to be made on the fly.

As with the SX30, a dedicated movie record button can be found to the right of the viewfinder, which is useful for capturing quick movies without having to change the mode dial.

After spending a while trying to figure out how to make the inbuilt flash pop-up, we realised that it's a simple matter of flipping it up by hand, the flash button to the side of it instead acting to change flash settings.

Articulating screens have proven to be popular additions to Canon's DSLR range, such as the EOS 60D, and is something that can also found on board the SX40. Although the 2.7inch screen does feel a little on the small side, the fact that it articulates is a great bonus, especially when trying to shoot from awkward angles.

The screen also coped well in bright sunlight and overall is an impressive feature of the camera. Unfortunately however, the same can't be said about the electronic viewfinder. Unlike many other cameras, the SX40 can't detect when you bring your eye to the viewfinder, so annoyingly you have to manually switch it on and off.

Composing images through the viewfinder is difficult, as it is small and the image does not appear particularly sharp within it. We'd really only recommend using it if you find you cannot live with using the LCD screen.

In good light, the SX40 does a good job of locking onto a subject for focus, even when using the camera at its maximum focal distance. It does start to struggle in lower lighting conditions though, sometimes hunting around for a target and occasionally failing to find one. But, to be fair, that is something to be expected from a camera of this calibre.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.