Sample photos: Canon PowerShot SX30 IS

Check out an examination of photo quality from Canon's PowerShot SX30 IS, the company's advanced megazoom camera featuring a whopping 35x zoom lens.

Joshua Goldman
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Joshua Goldman
1 of 14 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

ISO comparison

Like most megazoom cameras, photos from the SX30 IS are noticeably soft. Also, when viewed at full size, photos are noisy even at the lowest sensitivity of ISO 80. On the other hand, Canon does a good job of keeping the noise in check up to ISO 400. At that point subjects get visibly mushy looking, though some fine detail is still around at ISO 800. At ISO 1600, noise and noise reduction are heavy, causing yellow blotching and and only a notion of detail. Outside of the yellow blotching, though, color and exposure remain consistent, so photos should still be usable at small sizes with little or no cropping. However, compared to its competition, its photo quality is likely the best you're going to find. The biggest problem here is the lens; it's too slow when fully extended, which means even with a lot of light, you'll still need to use the higher ISOs. (View larger.)
2 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET


The SX30 IS has a 0-inch macro mode, which is pretty difficult to take advantage of while holding the camera. It does, however, mean you can get awfully close to your subject. Macro is also where the camera happens to be at its sharpest.(View larger.)
3 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

A, S, M modes

Among its many shooting modes are shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and manual options. Available apertures at the wide end include: f2.7, f3.2, f3.5, f4.0, f4.5, f5.0, f5.6, f6.3, f7.1, and f8.0; available in telephoto are: f5.8, f6.3, f7.1, f8.0. Shutter speeds go from 15 seconds down to 1/3,200 second. The top photo was taken at 1/500s at f2.7 (ISO 80); the bottom was at 1/500s at f4.5 (ISO 400). (View larger.)
4 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Zoom range

The lens is, of course, the main attraction with this camera, going from 24-840mm (35mm equivalent). (View larger.)
5 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Zoom range

To give you another idea of the power of this lens.
6 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

35x at 100 percent

This is a 100-percent crop of the 840mm-equivalent photo from the previous slide. With the lens starting at f5.8 you need plenty of light to keep the ISO low. This is at ISO 400. If you're going to be shooting sports indoors, using the full zoom range likely won't be possible without using the higher ISO settings. (View larger.)
7 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET


If you're thinking of buying the SX30 IS for shooting sports, you may be disappointed. What's more important is speed, and this camera is fairly slow with a noticeable shutter lag and somewhat long shot-to-shot times. There are two continuous options: one with autofocus and one without. If you opt to skip the AF, focus and exposure are set with the first shot, so any fast movement will likely result in out-of-focus images. Plus, moving subjects move quickly out of frame and even with the Frame Assist button that zooms the lens in and out, it can be very difficult to track subjects. With all of that said, if you're good at anticipating action and aren't looking to make poster-size prints, this camera will certainly bring you closer to your favorite player. (View larger.)
8 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET


For wildlife shooting, basically everything I said in the previous slide still applies. Add in less light from tree cover and you'll need a slow shutter speed and a high ISO to get a shot. Keeping your subject in frame can be even trickier than athletes because sports are more predictable than animals. (The top photo is a 100 percent crop from the bottom shot.)(View larger.)
9 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Lens distortion

In spite of being an ultrawide-angle lens, Canon keeps the barrel distortion in check; there is some on the left side, but it's barely detectable (top). When fully extended, the lens exhibits slight pincushioning, but not enough to be concerned. Center sharpness is good and the lens softens only a bit out to the sides and corners. Fringing, however, gets a more prevalent out to the sides.
10 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Fringing (wide)

It doesn't appear that Canon does much to help remove or reduce fringing in high-contrast areas of photos. Most megazoom cameras produce a lot of fringing, but some create more at the wide or telephoto positions. The SX30 IS is bad at both ends, to the point where you'll see it in larger prints or if you crop heavily. If you're able to look past it or don't mind removing if it bothers you, then it's a nonissue.
11 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Fringing (telephoto)

This is the fringing at the telephoto end. If you look at the head of the statue, the left side is fringed in green, while the right is purple and continues down his body. Again, this is at 100 percent; you can't really see it in the bottom photo and you're not going to find a better low-cost way to take a photo of these statues from the ground; they are at the top of the Flatiron Building in New York.
12 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET


Color and exposure are generally excellent from this camera and consistent across its ISO settings. Again, though, you will see some yellow blotching from noise at ISO 1,600. Also, as typical of compact cameras, highlights have a tendency to blow out. Canon's i-Contrast feature does help bring out shadow detail, though, should you choose to use it.
13 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Canon i-Contrast

This is an example of Canon's i-Contrast feature that can be turned on while shooting or used after in playback. The top is without it, the bottom photo is with it applied. I recommend using it in playback as you have more control over the end result and you aren't stuck with it if you don't like the results.
14 of 14 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Miniature Effect mode

Canon introduced a few new creative shooting modes in 2010. This is Miniature Effect, which blurs the top and bottom of the frame and boosts contrast and color saturation to make subjects look like painted miniature models. It works to some degree, but is not as convincing as true tilt-shift photography, which is what the effect is based on.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos