Powershot SX30 IS, SX40 HS, and the furure of Bird Photography

Started Sep 16, 2011 | Discussions thread
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RoyAmatore
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Powershot SX30 IS, SX40 HS, and the furure of Bird Photography
Sep 16, 2011

I bought the SX30 IS atthe begining of September and returned it 13 days later at Best Buy in anticipation of the SX40 HS's rumored mid-September announcement. Well, mid-September is here and so is the announcementn of the SX40 HS. I did get a chance to use the SX30 for the last two weeks and post some "before and after" post-processing shots below.

Overall, while recognizing the image quality issues with the SX30, I've been very happy with this truly amazing camera. The primary reason (and I'm not sure this can be said of any of its rivals) is that it allows for handheld bird photography at 840mm. This makes possible (for under $450) what has heretofor been impossible at any price. Add a tripod and you can reach such lengths with a $15,000 Nikon or Canon 600mm f.4 lens + teleconverter. But you dont just drop into a nature center after work and snap a few pics with a setup like that. The problem has always been that anything under 600mm (I would argue 800mm) is for most amatures just not close enough and anything more is prohibitavely expensive and brutally heavy. Authur Morris can take fantastic close photos of birds with a a lightweight Canon 400mm IS f5.6 lens and with fairly fast and heavy Canon 500mm IS lens, handheld, but he dines with these animals.

No. Never before has the average Ansel been able to take photos of birds from 840mm away and produce, albeit with post processing, acceptable results. And this is only the beginning. The SX40 HS promises better image quality, somethibng the SX30 sorely needs, and the future is unlimited.

Speaking of Arthur Morris, I think that Ken Threed is the Arthur Morris of this category, and if I were Canon I'd be contacting him. Ken's bird pictures (with a $400 camera) are simpy hard to believe. I hope he gets the SX40 and shows us what he can do with that. He has inspired me to take up my old hobby of bird photography--but now with a much longer reach and a new-found freedom from burden and cost. For the cost of one fast bird lens, I can buy a new SX model as it comes out for the next 25 years.

I suspect similar results cannot be obtained by the other contenders in the superzoom category because (a) all but one does not have the 800mm+ length and (b) I doubt any of the other's image stabilization is as good as Canon's. IS is not a gimmick, its an absolute necessity in this category of camera to get usable (i.e., fixable with post pp) results. Canon seems to have matched its IS well with with this superzoom. Image sample from the DPR tests I think confirm that Canon's IS better, even at longer focal lengths, than the others.

As i said, I returned the SX30 and I am very happy to hear that the SX40 has a new sensor and the DIGIC V processor (what ever that is). From the one image sample I've seen on the CanonUSA website, it can only make the newly possible even more possible. We'll see, of course. But I'm excited.

Some of the shots below are handheld and on some a I used a flimsey tripod. Each pic is followed by the post processed version. The post-processing is rough and done quicky, and I out-and-out cheated with the Gaussian Blur filter, not yet owning a NR plug-in, but I post them to show the possibilities.

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