Also reviewed in our report on: Ultra-Zoom Digital Cameras

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Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

*Est. $350
June 2012
by ConsumerSearch
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

  • Versatile lens range
  • Excellent CMOS image sensor
  • Shoots full 1080p HD video
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Lots of manual control
  • Improved shooting speed
  • No RAW mode
  • Relatively small (2.7-inch) LCD screen
Where to Buy

The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is basically the same camera as the critics' former favorite extreme-zoom, the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS -- only the SX40 HS boosts the shooting speed and substitutes a superior image sensor and full 1080p HD video. That gives the SX40 better image quality, especially in low light, experts say. Add the unsurpassed 35x optical zoom lens -- a holdover from the SX30 IS -- and testers say the SX40 HS is a very entertaining camera to shoot with, indeed.

A better sensor

"An ultrazoom superior to all others we've tested so far this year," declares's Christopher Snow in his test of the SX40 HS. It switches from a CCD image sensor to an advanced CMOS image sensor, and it cuts the resolution from 14.1 to 12.1 megapixels -- a move that actually improves image quality by making each pixel bigger and able to take in more light. Snow compares the SX40 HS to the SX30 IS and says "The difference is clear ... the SX40 is not only the better camera, but a testament to the real difference consumers can expect when they forget about megapixels, and instead educate themselves on what really makes a sensor better."

Not quite DSLR-quality images, but better than its ultra-zoom peers

Shakiness can plague some extreme-zoom cameras, but testers say Canon's excellent optical image stabilizer does a great job keeping things steady, all the way from its 24 mm wide-angle setting to its full 840 mm telephoto zoom. The lens carries over unchanged from the earlier SX30, along with an electronic viewfinder, hot shoe for an accessory flash and a 2.7-inch, tilt-and-swivel LCD screen. The screen's a little smaller than the now-common 3-inch screen, and its 230,000 dots are "distinctly low-res" compared with the screens on some Panasonic, Nikon and Fujifilm rivals,'s Andrew Williams says. Testers say the SX40 HS delivers very good image quality through ISO 800, "so you can capture good images in modestly lit environments," says Jim Fisher at As for speed, Williams says it's "much improved" over the SX30, which critics complained was a slow worker. The SX40 can shoot 2.4 fps or 10.3 fps in High-speed Burst HQ mode.

The bottom line

The SX40 HS looks like a little digital SLR camera, with its chunky, business-like black body (testers say it won't fit in a pocket). But although its images look great for an ultra-zoom, they can't match a real DSLR's. "If image quality tops your list of priorities, then you should probably be on the lookout for a budget DSLR and forget all about the ear candy of this camera's fabulous 35x optical zoom," Williams says. For example, the SX40 HS can't shoot RAW (uncompressed) images like DSLRs (and some rival ultra-zooms) can.

Where To Buy
Canon SX40 HS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 35x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch Vari-Angle Wide LCD

Buy new: $429.00 $349.00   63 Used & new from $160.00

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The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is "an ultrazoom superior to all others we've tested so far this year," Christopher Snow says. This 16-part review dissects just about every aspect of the camera and compares it with rivals from Panasonic and Nikon -- and with the similar Canon PowerShot SX30 IS.

Review: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, Christopher Snow, Sept. 30, 2011


With better image quality and speed than the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, the updated Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is "a great buy" and a Recommended pick. This full test looks at all major aspects of the camera and includes plenty of test photos.

Review: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Review, Andrew Williams, Updated Nov. 22, 2011


The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is a little too big to fit in a pocket -- that's why the smaller 18x-zoom Nikon Coolpix S9100 is's Editors' Choice ultra-zoom camera -- but the 35x-zoom Canon "can capture telephoto images that a smaller camera couldn't dream of," this test shows.

Review: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, Jim Fisher, Oct. 26, 2011


Although doesn't shy away from publishing negative reviews, owners post mostly glowing feedback for the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, awarding it an average of 4.5 stars out of 5. To show off the hefty zoom, one reviewer posts a short video of two sailboats passing each other from half a mile away.

Review: Canon SX40 HS 12.1MP Digital Camera, Contributors to


Although hasn't yet fully tested the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, this "first shots" review painstakingly enumerates all of the differences between the SX40 HS and the similar, older Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, and editors post plenty of test shots from the studio and the real world.

Review: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, Mike Pasini and Stephanie Boozer, April 2, 2012

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