bw50505
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Canon Powershot SX40

Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:46 pm

I am thinking of replacing my old camera with a Canon Powershot SX40. I tested it out in a store and was satisfied and I found that the camera has great reviews. How good is this camera for planespotting and regular photography?

bw50505
Flown on: A319 A320 B734 B737 B738 B752 CRJ DHC2 DH8 E135/145 E190 MD80 ...and more that I can't remember.
 
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Kukkudrill
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Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:11 pm

RE: Canon Powershot SX40

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:15 pm

Having had a look at the specs, what I can say is:

-- The SX40 has a monster of a lens with a x35 optical zoom, giving the equivalent of 840mm at maximum zoom. No lens optics can deliver consistent quality throughout such a zoom range. I found one review that says images get soft in the upper range of the zoom - no surprise there.

-- The same review says autofocus tends to "hunt" in the upper range of the zoom, so you may have trouble tracking moving subjects at long range - quite apart from any problems due to atmospheric conditions (heat distortion).

-- What this means is that in practice the x35 lens will be less of a benefit than it might appear on paper.

-- The zoom control is by means of a lever on a ring around the shutter release, as opposed to a manual zoom ring on the lens barrel itself. This means that to zoom in and out you have to take your finger off the shutter release and wait for the lens to respond to movements of the lever. It's a slow business so with an approaching aircraft you will have to guess the amount of zoom you need in advance. You won't have time to adjust while shooting.

If I were in the market for a compact superzoom, I would look for one with a manual zoom control on the lens so you can zoom with one hand and shoot with the other. It's much faster and more flexible for moving subjects like aircraft.
Make the most of the available light ... a lesson of photography that applies to life
 
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dlednicer
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RE: Canon Powershot SX40

Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:35 pm

I have shot a good bit with the preceding generation to the SX40, the SX30 IS. While it generally is a very nice camera, I do find that its lens produces quite a bit of chromatic aberration. The odd part is that while I am used to seeing chromatic aberration in the magenta/red range, the SX30 also produces chromatic aberration in the green range.

Regarding the zoom, I have shot mostly stills with the SX30, but I have shot aircraft in motion with the S3 IS, two or more generations back. I didn't find the finger-controlled zoom to be a problem. In general, even with barrel-controlled zoom, you have to plan your shot. If I try to zoom, pan, frame and shoot all at once, with any camera, it doesn't work.

With all of that said, I only use the SX30 for travel, when we are packing light. If I am going to an airport or an airshow, I'll take my Canon 450D, EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM.

SX30 (the first one was shot through window glass):

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Photo © David Lednicer
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S3 IS:

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Photo © David Lednicer

 
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Kukkudrill
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Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:11 pm

RE: Canon Powershot SX40

Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:44 pm

Quoting dlednicer (Reply 2):
I didn't find the finger-controlled zoom to be a problem. In general, even with barrel-controlled zoom, you have to plan your shot. If I try to zoom, pan, frame and shoot all at once, with any camera, it doesn't work.

Of course you have to plan your shot, but with a barrel twist zoom you can make adjustments just before shooting so you don't have to get the amount of zoom exactly right beforehand. With a finger-operated zoom lever, on the other hand, you have only one chance to get it right.
Make the most of the available light ... a lesson of photography that applies to life
 
jfpeng1998
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Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:48 am

RE: Canon Powershot SX40

Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:02 am

I bought a Canon PowerShot SX30IS recently for aviation photography, but I regret. It works totally great for landscapes and macros, but with a moving aircraft, it's not really nice. If you're shooting static aircraft, it's perfectly fine, but if you want to achieve the shutter speed to shoot an aircraft in the sky (let's say 1/1000), you'll have to increase the ISO to about 200 or 400, or even 800. But point-and-shoot and bridge cameras are notorious for bad ISO performance, so you will have plenty of grain. There's also a lot of color fringing as well as chromatic aberration. For spotting at my local airport, I first went with my old Canon PowerShot SX200IS, and got pretty good results for static and taxiing aircraft. On my next spotting trip, I brought my Canon PowerShot SX30IS and a borrowed Nikon D3100. I was satisfied with the mediocre performance of the Nikon D3100, but I left the Canon PowerShot SX30IS in my bag. Now, I have upgraded to the Nikon D800, and I have taken some amazing shots, and I am very surprised and satisfied with it.

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