Canon Powershot SX40 HS Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

12 Megapixels    35x Zoom

Dimensions: 122.9 x 92.4 x 107.7 mm    Weight: 600g

Good Points: Picture quality, features, manual controls, movie features, vari angle LCD screen, handling

Bad Points: No RAW mode

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Shutter Lag Rating par Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating


The Canon Powershot SX40 HS is possibly the most advanced and powerful digital camera you can buy without stepping up to a Digital SLR. It has a great range of features that you can use to fine tune the camera to match your exact requirements. The Powershot SX40 HS looks a lot like a Digital SLR, has many of the features you associate with one and also handles in a similar way. The advantage of this camera over a Digital SLR is that you do not need to buy additional lenses.

The stand out feature is the 35x zoom lens. This gives you the flexibility to capture just about any photo opportunity from landscapes to wildlife. There are also a host of manual exposure controls. These include features that can be hard to find on other cameras such as bracketing.

Compared with other digital cameras at this price point the Powershot SX40 HS has the following:

Plus Points

  • Powerful 35x zoom
  • Manual Exposure Modes including 2 custom modes
  • Full High Definition movies with stereo sound
  • Slow Motion Movies
  • Hot Shoe
  • 10.3 frames per second burst mode
  • Viewfinder with dioptre correction
  • 2.7 inch vari angle LCD screen
  • Optional filter adapter available
  • Hot shoe for attaching external flash units

Negative Points

  • No RAW capture

Why Buy the Canon Powershot SX40 HS

The Powershot SX40 HS is an incredibly powerful digital camera. You get similar performance to consumer level Digital SLR at a lower price.


Megapixels and Zoom

The Powershot SX40 HS has 12 megapixels and a 35x zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 24 - 840mm in 35mm format. Canon have added an Ultra Sonic Motor to the lens. This helps to ensure smoother and quieter zooming. This can be useful if you do not want to disturb your subject.

Movie Mode

The various movie features may be one of the big attractions to you. To start with you can record full High Definition movies at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The maximum recording speed at this resolution is 24 frames per second. Stereo sound can be recorded to accompany your movie clips.

Other movie options include 30 second slow motion movies and the ability to shoot iFrame movies.

The Ultra Sonic Motor is a big help when shooting movies too as it quietens the zoom mechanism.

You also have access to special movie scene modes.

Manual Exposure

To give you extra control over the way your photos will look you have access to manual exposure controls. These are fully manual, aperture priority and shutter priority. There are also two custom modes you can choose to store your most used settings.

LCD Screen and Viewfinder

The big difference between the LCD screen on this camera and the majority of other cameras is that you can pull out the screen from the body and twist it round. The two advantages of this are it can help if you find yourself in an uncomfortable shooting position, plus the fact you can manoeuvre the screen out of direct sunlight. This can make it much easier to view.

The viewfinder is electronic rather than optical. Optical viewfinders tend to offer a bit of extra brightness and quality. There is a dioptre correction wheel. You can use this to adjust the focusing of the viewfinder to suit your eyesight.

Shooting Modes

The pre programmed scene modes available are: Portrait, Landscape, Smart Shutter(Smile, Wink Self-Timer, Face Self-Timer), High-speed Burst HQ, Handheld Night Scene, Low Light (3.0MP), Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Stich Assist), Creative Filters (Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent and Color Swap.

Macro Mode

For close up work the camera can focus from more or less right next to your subject.

Memory Cards

You can use SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards to store your images.


A lithium ion battery is used to provide power. Canon estimates you should be able to take an impressive 380 shots in between charges. A battery and charger are supplied with the camera.

Aspect Ratios

If you would like to give your photos a different look you can use different aspect ratios. You can choose between 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1. The 1:1 ratio will give you a square photo.

High Speed Burst Mode

The Powershot SX40 HS is capable of short, high speed bursts. This allows you to reel off up 8 shots at a maximum speed of 10.3 frames per second.

Advanced Features

Other advanced features include bracketing and manual focus.

Adding Accessories

You have a couple of options for adding accessories. There is a hot shot for attaching compatible flash units. You can also buy a lens adapter so that the camera will work with 67mm filters.

Image Quality

Picture Quality Summary

Picture quality is up there with the best digital cameras in this category. There are no obvious weaknesses and there are a number of areas where the camera performs above expectations.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

The two main points to note in this picture are sharpness of the shot and the amount of detail showing in shady areas. Sharpness levels are maintained as you move out away from the centre of the photo. The one area where the camera may have done a little better is the level of detail showing in the lightest areas of the boats in the photo.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

This can be a really tough test for digital cameras with wide angle lenses. The Powershot SX40 HS produces an encouraging result. Sharpness levels are towards the upper end compared with similar cameras. The big plus point is there is not much fall off in sharpness at the edges.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

Cameras with such long lenses have a tendency to suffer from purple fringing when the lens is zoomed right in on the subject. The Powershot SX40 HS performed particularly well in this area by more or less eradicating this issue altogether in the tests. The level of detail shown when the lens is fully zoomed in is impressive.

Outdoor Building

Using a little of the zoom power available gives us a sharply focused picture. There is minimal evidence of sharpness falling away towards the edges. As with other test shots the overall level of detail showing in the shot compares well against the best digital cameras.

Outdoor Portrait

There are no problems in this test for the Powershot SX40 HS. There is a touch of warmth in the skin tones and the colours are accurate.

Indoor Portrait With Flash

One of the big plus points about this picture is the way the camera has worked out the amount of light needed. The face is not overpowered with light. This leads to plenty of colour showing in the face. Light is evenly spread. You should find that there is a lot of power available to you in the flash unit when required.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

Despite flash being turned off this test shot has plenty of brightness. The definition showing compares well against rival cameras. This suggests this camera is good at minimising noise.


Although Canon state the Powershot SX40 HS is capable of focusing from more or less right next to your subject you have to be aware that the large size of the body can block out light. This can make it difficult to get good picture quality from right in close. Aside from that point the camera is capable of very good macro performance.


You should be able to take photos with strong, vibrant colours. The colours produced are well balanced.


Noise levels are kept to an absolute minimum. As well as a high quality processor inside the camera the physically large sized lens can help to capture extra light to cut down on noise issues.

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Panasonic DMC FZ48 Rating 87/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ48 is very hard to beat. It is up against some stiff competition, but the combination of features, image quality and pricing makes it the outstanding model in its category. When it comes to picture quality it has few weaknesses and its length of lens means it can cope with more or less any photo opportunity.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FZ48 Review

Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Rating 86/100

The Fuji Finepix HS30EXR does offer a number of differences to rival Super Zoom or Bridge digital cameras. The main difference is the twisting lens barrel, but there are other handling aspects that make it that bit closer to a Digital SLR experience. In terms of features Fuji have packed in just about everything they can think of. Picture quality compares well against rival cameras and shutter response times are also impressive. This makes this camera a very attractive proposition if you are looking for a fully featured camera with a great deal of zoom power.

Read Review: Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Review

Nikon Coolpix L810 Rating 79/100

The Nikon Coolpix L810 offers something different as it gives you the power of an extra long lens, but with the simplicity of a point and shoot digital camera. This helps to make it somewhat cheaper than the more fully featured models with similar zoom power. Picture quality does not match up to the more expensive models in this category, but it is only if you are planning to make extra large prints that you are likely to see much difference between photos taken with this camera and those that give you that bit of extra quality. This camera is a good choice if you are looking for simple operation and a powerful lens.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix L810 Review

Related Pages

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Specification

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Sample Images

Digital Camera Reviews

Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: April 2012


Your decision to buy the Canon Powershot SX40 HS is likely to be based on whether or not you prefer the simplicity and lower price of a digital camera with a fixed lens or whether you prefer the ultimate flexibility of a Digital SLR. If you prefer a camera where one lens covers just about all photo opportunities then the Powershot SX40 HS is hard to beat. There are no real issues with picture quality and it has a set of features that few other models can match. Recommended.


Ease of Use:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:


Photo Quality:
Value for Money:




Main Features

LCD Screen:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:

2.7 inches
122.9 x 92.4 x 107.7 mm
Lithium Ion

Shutter Lag Times

Single Shot:
Five Shots:
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:

0.35 seconds
10.29 seconds
1 seconds
15.4 seconds
2.72 seconds

Shutter Lag Table


General Handling

The Powershot SX40 HS has as many buttons and dials as I can recall seeing on a digital camera. Despite this there is still plenty of room to place fingers and thumbs to ensure a good hold of the camera. The extra weight of the camera also helps to makes it easier to hold the camera steady compared to more lightweight compacts.

The Digital SLR style design means that you can support the camera from underneath with one hand while wrapping the fingers of your other hand around the textured grip on the front of the camera. There is a stippled indentation on the back for your thumb.

Flash Positioning

The flash unit is situated on the top of the Powershot SX40 HS. You manually pull up the unit to open it. Behind the flash unit is a cover. Take off the cover and the hot shoe is revealed.

LCD Screen Quality

This is an area where Canon could have gone a bit further to deliver higher quality. Although screen quality is quite acceptable the resolution is the basic 230,000 dots. A lot of premium digital cameras now offer higher resolution screens and therefore a clearer display.

Turn on Time and Shutter Delay

Shutter lag times are another area where I would like to have seen faster times. Without flash average times are achieved with a single shot taking 0.35 seconds and five taking 10.29 seconds. The time for a single shot is not a particularly slow time, but for a camera at the top end of the market you might expect to see it competing with the fastest cameras available. It is the same with times recorded using flash. A single photo took 1 second and five shots taking 15.4 seconds. The times recorded for multiple shots are of less importance. You can achieve much faster times, but you need to place the camera in burst mode to achieve them.

Camera Controls

On the top of the camera are a shutter button and the on / off button. A ring for controlling zoom encircles the shutter button. Also on the top is the main control dial. This allows you to select the shooting mode. Shooting modes include the different manual exposure modes, scene modes and custom modes as well as automatic shooting. Also on the top is a button for selecting the flash mode.

There are numerous controls on the back of the camera. These start with a shortcut button. You can allocate one main feature such as white balance to the shortcut button. This gives you quick access for when you want to change that setting

Moving across is viewfinder. Next to the viewfinder is the dioptre correction wheel. You use the wheel to adjust focusing of the viewfinder.

Further across comes a line of three buttons. The top button is the Zoom Framing Assist button. This button is used when you have zoomed in, but lost track of your subject. By pressing the button the camera instantly shows you an " unzoomed " view so that you can recompose your image. Next is the picture review button. Beneath this is the Auto Focus Frame Assist button. This button allows you to move and resize the area you wish the camera to focus on.

The next set of controls sit in the main control section. This section gives you access to exposure compensation, ISO, the self timer and focusing options such as macro mode and manual focus. In the centre of this area is a button to access functions and confirm your chosen setting. The area is encircled by a wheel for changing settings.

Finally there are buttons for accessing the menu system and changing the LCD screen display.

Product Shots

Front View

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Front View

Back View

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Back View

Top View

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Top View

Sample Menus

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