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Canon SX30 IS Review: Architecture shootout in Lyon - France

Published on 2011-01-29 09:26:05

Now this is a camera I will never take underwater.

I doubt that anybody would be crazy enough to build an underwater housing for this monster. With a 35mm equivalent 840mm lens (yes, 840mm) this superzoom point and shoot has a width of about a foot (30cm) when fully extended. It would be like mounting my 70-300mm lens on my T2i and expect to take it underwater!

Anyway, I was in France for a few days and with outside temps in the low 20's even if I had found a body of water to dive in, chances are it would have been frozen. So I went to La Confluence, a new quarter of Lyon, a French city reknowned for its cuisine and for having been the capital of what was France 2,000 years ago.

Since I was traveling light (that's my moto remember), I did not bother taking any of my cameras on this trip and my antiquated cell phone does not qualify as such. As I started walking through streets lined with contemporary art buildings, I immediately regreted it. Fortunately my dad lended me his brand new Canon SX30IS and I started shooting right away.

The user interface of the SX30 is close to identical to my G12's and that was rather easy fo me to trash my dad's settings and replace them with mine. My dad will probably spend hours trying to figure out how to get his back, but that's too bad..

The superzoom is indeed impressive. I was able to shoot close ups of the solar panels installed at the top of the buildings 100ft away as if they were just right next to me. The basilica of Fourvière had neer seem that close as well! If 840mm (35x) is not enough, the camera also has a digital zoom that will magnify your shot 50x! If you're into ugly big pixels, that's a feature you want to leave enabled. The Image Stabilizer (the IS in SX30IS) helps you get clear shots fully extended without the need of a tripod even at lower shutter speeds.

The camera has some annoying features though.

It's able to automatically reframe your shots by a simple press of a button. That's a neat feature although I would argue that I know better than my camera what I want in the frame… But the annoyance is not from the feature itself but rather from the fact that the engineers who designed the controls on the SX30 were probably high on crack when they placed the auto-reframe button: right where your thumb goes when you hold the camera to snap a shot! Result: the darn camera kept on reframing my pictures! VERY annoying! Especially when you're shooting a panorama and the camera changes the focal distance between two shots! ARGH!

Another nasty feature is the "play" button that lets you review your shots. Pressing it once indeed puts the camera in playback  mode. But press it again and the camera turns off! WTF? On the G12 and the T2i it brings you back into shooting mode which is somewhat more intuitive than simply shutting down the camera!

As far as picture quality goes, the SX30 is not amongst the best. An extermelly disapointing and very detrimental aspect of this camera is its inability to produce noise free images. Even at 100 ISO, the noise level is fairly high and the image quality compares to the Olympus Tough series which is not that surprising since Canon decided to cram 14Mpix into the SX30 small sensor, just like Olympus. For the G12, they were more clever and limit themselves to 10Mpix and that really makes a difference.

To conclude, SX30 has a cool badass superzoom, a few poorly designed controls and average image quality. But it still let you take pictures when you forgot your G12 at home!            

6,000€ per sqm ($750/sqft) for the top floor. Hopefully there's not to many earthquakes in the region...Low carbon footprint ecobuilding - notice the solar panels on the roof
Shiny!The Arch de la Défense redux
Messages on a wallLe cube orange


Super wide angle shot - 9 shots stitched together

Panorama looking South toward the new entertainment center


Panorama looking North toward the apartment complex 


Panorama looking North-East toward the Rhône river


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