Canon SX40 HS vs Sony HX100V

September 16, 2011

Canon SX40 HS vs Sony HX100V

Superzoom cameras are among the most fascinating ones among point-and-shoot digicams. The Canon SX40 HS is probably the most awaited superzoom camera, due to the immense success of the SX30 IS which it replaces. With a 35x (24-840mm equiv.) optical zoom, Intelligent 4.5-stop IS, 1080p24, DIGIC 5 processor and 12.1MP back-illuminated sensor, the PowerShot SX40 HS looks like one of the strongest contenders to become the best superzoom cameras in 2012. In this column I want to talk about the SX40 and compare it to another highly popular super zoom, the Sony HX100V. I hope that after reading this side-by-side comparison review, you’ll get a good comprehension about the differences between those two cameras.

As we are used to start our camera comparison articles, we’ll talk about each camera on its own, compare them side by side and then inspect the important features that each camera has to offer. With superzoom cameras, it’s all about versatility and the ability to get very close to your subject without moving an inch. Both the Sony HX100V and Canon SX40 HS are the top super-zoom digital cameras to date. We’ll start this article in a positive attitude and see of one of them can cause us to think otherwise. Let’s begin..

 

Canon PowerShot SX40 IS

The SX40 was announced on September 15, 2011. This advanced digital camera takes the place of the Canon SX30 IS, one of the most successful super-zoom models in Canon’s SX lineup ever.  The SX30IS is already a year old, and it’s time to upgrade this model, as new competitive ultra-zooms are already release and available on the market.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS camera

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS camera

The PowerShot SX40 HS features a 12.1-megapixel 1/2.3″ Backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, in oppose to the SX30 that utilizess a 14.1-megapixel CCD sensor. Two things are new here. First of all, Canon was determined to lower the sensor’s resolution by two mega pixels and second, the sensor’s architecture is based on the BSI technology, improved the sensor’s sensitivity.

Many people might ask the basic question: “Why Canon has decreased the sensor’s resolution from 14.1 to 12.1 megapixles?“. That’s a great question, and two things come to my mind: Price and Performance. I think that Canon yearned for releasing a camera at the same price of the SX30 and I can presume that the price of a BSI sensor with a larger resolution could increase the camera’s price. Second, Canon didn’t want to release ‘just another’ super-zoom camera, but one that will beat the competition and future cameras in terms of image quality. It looks like this is the first time that the “megapixel war” didn’t invade Canon’s camp. I can just thank Canon for understanding its customers and doing the best it can (under some restrictions) to release a new sensor that should result in a better image quality. Let’s not forget that we are looking at a small sensor and not a Micro Four Thirds or APS-C one. The less pixels the more sensitive the sensor is to light, and the better low-light performance is.

The Canon SX30 IS was criticized for its mediocre image quality, although in other standpoints the Camera did very well.

Other than the brand-new sensor, the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS features the new DIGIC 5 image processor. An ultra-fast central processing unit that was designed to increase the camera’s performance and greatly enhance image quality, especially in high-ISO, where it brings into play advanced noise-reduction algorithms to effectively reduce noise from your photos.

The DIGIC 5 image processor boosts the camera’s performance, allow it to capture up to 10.3 fps in Hi-speed Burst HQ mode. This certainly tops the SX30IS with its max. burst of 1.3 fps (0.6 in normal mode). This is a very welcomed feature due to the fact that many sports photographers might take advantage of it. A combination of a long optical zoom lens and high burst rate will certainly appeal to fast-action shooters.

The 24-840mm IS lens (35x zoom) features Canon’s latest lens-shift image stabilization technologies, with 4.5-stop compensation, The what called “Intelligent IS” is a feature that allowsthe camera to automatically choose between six available Image-stabilization modes: Normal, Panning, Hybrid (yes, the same type used on the 10mm F2.8L USM macro lens), Dynamic, Powered and Tripod (IS off). That means that the photographer will not have the need to worry about which IS mode to use, the camera will do its very best to select the most applicable stabilization for a specific type of shooting. For example, if the camera is mounted on a tripod or on a stable surface, there is no need for the IS to operate (can cause blurring due to tiny motor movements), so it automatically turns the IS off.

Another feature on the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is the Full HD 1080p24 video recording mode. The Canon SX30 IS only had 720p30, and like any of the latest super-zoom cameras, it’s time to upgrade this feature as well.

The SX40HS maintains the same body dimensions and design, but reforms upon most of the important features, a Kodus to Canon about that!

 

Sony HX100V

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V has gained itself a reputation of being the best superzoom digital camera on the market on 2011, beating the Canon SX30 IS, the Olympus SP-800UZ and the Nikon Coolpix P500. Maybe “beating” is not the right word, but it did mange to become one of the most popular ones.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V

The HX100V features a 16.2-megapixel 1/2.3″ Exmor R CMOS back-illuminated sensor, a 27-810mm F2.8-5.6 Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonar® T 30x zoom lens, 10fps burst, 1080p60 video recording and a 3-inch 921,6000-dot tilting LCD display. What more can we ask from a super-zoom point-and-shoot camera?

No doubt that when it comes to specs, the Sony HX100V is a remarkable achievement, and it even comes with a built-in GPS for geotagging photos. It also has (arguably) the better image-quality of the top leading super zoom cameras, which were released in 2010/2011. It features Sony’s Sweep Panorama, 3D Sweep Panorama, 3D still images and a wide variety of creative features. It was really hard to beat this camera.
It’s important to point out that the shelf-life of those cameras is aproximately one year. After that time, any company who wants to stay keep its position, has to release a new model. The HX100V was certainly a next-generation super-zoom model, one that can challenge future models that comes after the initial release date of the camera, even a year after.

No doubt that the HX100V will be directly compared against the new Canon SX40 HS. The question is whether the SX40 can be a threat the HX100V? – Don’t get me wrong, Not all super-zooms are alike, and as in DSLR cameras, two cameras might offer different features that can convince one person to buy one model over the other.
Let’s jump right into the water and view a side-by-side comparison table.

 

 

Sony HX100V & Canon SX40 HS – Comparison Table

After bringing you a “short” 🙂 introduction about the HX100V and SX40HS, it’s time to compare them side-by-side. This is the easiest way to comprehend the differences between the two cameras. It’s also the best way to analyze the differences in a way that you can spot some features and catalog them as “must have” or “nice to have”.

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The above comparison table reveals some interesting facts about how the two cameras are very close together in terms of their specs. We can see that despite the resolution advantage of the HX100V, both have a BSI sensor, both can shoot at burst rate around 10fps in max. resolution, they can record Full HD videos and they have very good battery life.  On the other hand, The Canon Sx40 HS has a wider focal length range (more extended zoom, 30x vs 35x), can shoot macro from 0cm (Vs 1cm), can shoot 1080p in 24fps (the HX100V doesn’t), but the back LCD has a lower resolution and its smaller than the 3-inch 921K-dots of the Sony DSC-HX100V.

Canon SX40 HS and SX30 IS side by side comparison

Do not strain your eyes too much, you will not find the differences from the outside (click to enlarge)

Some people will wonder why Canon is still in the past offering such a low-res sensor. Most of today’s latest P&S cameras have a high-resolution 3-inch sensor. I can assume that Canon wanted to keep the price of the SX40 HS low.

What Camera Reviewers Think about the XH100V?

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V is one of the top super-zoom digital cameras out there. It was release on January 2011, but we can see why it became so popular. Almost a year ago, finding a camera with those features was certainly a big leap compared to other super-zooms at that time. The market moves fast, and Sony certainly knows how to grab our attention with every new product.  The big electronic and camera reviews website like the HX100V too. Here’s what they said..

 

  • Pocket-lint.com –
    Positive: Among the best superzooms on the market
    Negative: Images are not better than a point-and-shoot
  • CNET.com
    Positive: Many features, excellent photo and video quality
    Negative: High price tag
  • WhatDigitalCamera.com
    Positive: King of superzooms
    Negative: Too many pixels result in relatively low image quality
  • ephotozine.com
    Positive: Excellent video and stills quality, fast and beautiful screen
    Negative: Expensive

These are just a few of the verdicts found on several camera reviews websites. In general, the Sony HX100V image quality was good, but not more than any other goo point-and-shoot camera. Reviewers blamed the high-resolution sensor for that. Although the video quality was impressive. Many reviewers have mentioned the high-price tag of the Sony when it was first released. However, I can understand why this camera was relatively more expensive due to its wide arsenal of advanced features. I think that camera manufacturers just can’t get away with a small price. In order to lower the price, some features need to go away, and that’s what Canon did by using a low resolution screen (which is BTW increase battery life due to its lower resolution).

The Sony HX100V didn’t come without some issues, like the one-touch video button took some time to start recording and people didn’t like it. The LCD gets washed out when shooting at outdoors at bright sunlight, and people report water like colors. The main discussion about the Sony HX100V was regarding the mediocre IQ, and some missed the image quality they’ve got with the Panasonic ZS3 and FZ18. For others, this was a must-buy ultra-zoom camera. Compared to the Canon SX30 IS and Nikon Coolpix P500, the HX100V was just a better camera overall. It is a fun camera to use and, most probably, the best bridge camera to-date. So the Sony HX100V built itself a nice performance gap between other super-zoom cameras from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and Fujifilm. That what allowed the camera to sell like hot morning coffee in a cold Winter morning.

The only super-zoom camera that can pose a real threat to the HX100V is the brand-new Canon PowerShot SX40 HS. Seems like Canon was able to solve many of the problems people had with the SX30IS, but at the same time morph this camera to become the top super-zoom camera on the market, without leaving a space for anyone to think otherwise.

 

You Can’t Have it All

Expectations aside and reality on the other side. First of all, many people don’t like the body design of the camera, the small electronic viewfinder, and not having 1080p60 (progressive scanning 60 frames-per-second in Full HD). However, you can’t just get it all, especially not with a superzoom camera. Maybe some people expectations have been shuttered because they thought that they could have it all, but they can’t. This is a compromise that a super-zoom buyer should make. The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is an evolutionary camera, that certainly works on some of the issues that we had with the SX30, especially in the IQ department and high-ISO performance. Many people were disappointed that when the sun starts vanishing, this camera becomes useless. The improvement of the IS, better noise-reduction algorithms and less MP, certainly helps targeting this problem.

It seems that some people get a more practical approach and want the camera to be the best in what it’s supposed to do best, zoom very close to your subject, have IS and take high-quality photos, mostly at the far-end zoom range. Everything else seems like a bonus with these types of cameras. However, as technology continues to improve, we have the right to wish those cameras to improve upon what already exists. So although we don’t get to have a gorgeous high-res LCD at the back or a large bright EVF, when the optics are good, IS works great and the battery life is good – there isn’t too much to complain about. The “must-have” features already exist, and the “nice to have” ones will probably be there in future models.

 

Conclusion

I personally admire Canon for lowering the MP-count and implementing its most important technologies in the SX40 HS, including the improved IS, BSI sensor, ultra-fast and optimized DIGIC 5 image processor.  This should be enough to take the SX40 HS to the next level and improve upon the older model, at least when it comes to performance and image quality. The Canon PowerShot Sx40 HS is certainly THE ultrazoom camera to watch in the years 2011/2012. If you plan to purchase a new super-zoom camera, just don’t forget to put the SX40 HS in the top of your list. So say goodbye to a DSLR with a full bag of lenses, and welcome the SX40 HS to your photography world!



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