Choosing a super-zoom camera (part 2)

3/26/2012 9:21:07 AM

Choosing a super-zoom camera (part 2)

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS


5 stars

$600 VAT included

SX40 HS has giant 35x zoom, video 1080p AVC, burst shooting 10.3fps, attachable tripod, electronic viewfinder and an articulated LCD screen. Howerver, the 2.7” size and 230,000 pixels resolution screen makes it difficult in manual focus. Other manual settings are much easier with the scroll wheel to change the numbers in setting, fast access to focus points and response on the screen for manual light exposure settings. Besides, you can’t save them in raw formats.

Although the burst shooting 10.3fps sounds great, it is limited in 8 pics and available as a scene preset without any changes in other settings. For a fully control and longer burst, we have to set the 2.1fps speed with fixed focus or 0.8fps autofocus. The average shooting is 2.8 seconds in our tests.

Video recording is better. 1080/24p AVC files encoded at 34Mbit/s with excellent audio, visual quality and distant hand-holding optical stabilization gobble up storage space. The autofocus is fairly up-to-date and there is not manual shutter speed control for video. 

Picture quality is the most impressive point of SX 40 HS. The 12MP backlit sensor and DIGIC 5 minimum noise processor together result in either razor-sharp or smooth pictures as the output of SLR cameras. Pictures are not exquisite enough in ISO 1600 but quite clean and attractive; therefore, rank the 1st place in this test thanks to its little noise. Lenses are well made with excellent angle sharpness and little evidence for optical wrong colour appearance. Auto settings are great.

SX 40 HS is on the way to the 1st prize, but shooting speed is too slow for such an expensive camera. Panasonic FZ150 has a big advantage here – together with raw shooting ability and excellent video control – compared with SX40 HS. However, with your other priorities, SX40 HS won’t let you down.   


Comment: SX40 is quite slow but impressive picture quality can attract the attention of those who spend plenty of time with pictures.

Superzoom camera: 12MP (4,000x3,000); 35x optical zoom 24-840mm), 2.7” LCD (230,000 pixel), SDXC card slot (not provided), Li-ion batteries, 93x123x108mm, 600g, 1 year RTB warranty.

Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR


4 stars

$409 VAT included

HX20EXR looks similar with SLR. It weigh nearly the same with 730g, and its lense ring for zoom and focus bring a better sense experience than other levers, buttons and dial wheels of other super zoom cameras. Its has its dedicated buttons for ISO speed, light, light measurement, focus speed, autofocus area and white balance, which are arranged in the left strip of the articulated 3” LCD screen. The setting changing can be done by hold one of these buttons and roll the dials.

Besides, it has flash hotshoe, raw shooting and digital spirit level on the screen. We don’t like 4 AA batteries, because it’s overly complicated than an only Li-on batteries.

We love the EXP sensor of Fujifilm, the unusual pixel arrangement allows the camera to decrease half of the resolution to decrease the noise and increase the dynamic range for the pictures. Focusing in 30x zoom lense is not always razor-sharp enough to excuse for the 16MP sensor, and even it delivers the nice details, which look a little bit heavy. However, switching to 8MP allows the better pixel focus, decrease noise and also catch all details for A4 printing pictures. Excellent picture quality but it can’t compare with Panasonic FX48, FX150 or Canon SX40 HS.

Unsteady performance: It can not meet the 11fps burst shooting speed as it stated, but 9fps for 16 pictures in 8MP is quite alright. Other options include balance speed, revolution and number of pictures. The 4 seconds start-up time is not impressive at all. Moreover, most of the control don’t work during the saving picture time, which destroy completely the advantages for these fast access buttons.

 Then, video quality also let us down. Details aren’t equivalent to the 1080p resolution while it requires complicated autofocus and then, ruin the soundtrack, as well as the unsteady performance for videos that clips recording from the distance and hand-holding can’t be watched.   

We like HS10 and practical design of HS20EXP makes its outstanding position. What a pity that it has zoom view, picture quality and not excellent performance and disappointed video mode.


Comment: Attractive images but videos are not as impressive, and excellent controls of FinePix are not easily accessed once images are being saved.

Superzoom digital camera: 16MP (4,608x3,456); 30x optical zoom(24-720mm), 3” LCD (460,000 pixel), SDCX card slot (20MB built-in), 4 AA batteries, 88x132x128mm, 1 year RTB warranty.

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