I’ve used my SX30 for two years, taking over 1.4 million shots with it (shutter count via neat EXIF data reader I learned about on this forum). I have a small gallery of SX30 work uploaded here. I recently bought an SX50. To answer your last question first, the SX50 offers significant improvements over the SX30 if you are ready for a different camera. Plenty of info on the forum about the SX50.
However, the SX30 can also give good results. Kenn Thread’s work with the SX30 is wonderful, and I used many of his suggestions in setting up my SX30 for bird work. I have some of those early threads saved and can provide some links if you can’t find them here using search.
First suggestion. Don’t shoot in Auto unless you are in a very rushed situation with challenging light/subject and don’t have time to think through what’s needed.
Second suggestion. Instead of Auto, create a set of custom settings for the C1 and C2 on mode dial. I have C1 set for birding: Tv 200, ISO 100, EC -1/3, AF Mode Continuous AF, WB daylight. Even have the zoom set to open to full when I turn the camera on with my C1 setting. Note: these settings mean that I must sometimes change shutter speed and/or ISO on the fly to suit conditions, decisions your Auto will do automatically. Auto will give you a shot, but it may boost the ISO to levels that make the image quality marginal. I use ISO 400 on the SX30 only as a last resort because of the increased image noise.
If you don't want to set up the C1 or C2, try using P, which will give you a lot more options via the Function button. Play around with this mode if you have not already. Tv is also a good one for birding.
I also followed Kenn’s advice to set up custom colors to limit what the camera does, and use post processing selectively to get the best from each shot. If you don’t want to use PP, then Dale’s custom colors advice in this thread is heading you in the right direction to increase what the camera does to provide more color saturation, contrast, and sharpening. Custom colors is a little more complicated to set up, but early SX30 threads covered it. Let me know if you can’t find it and want the recipe.
The image editor that came with your SX30 is not bad and not hard to use, and the price is right.
You are not the first to observe that Auto on the SX30 didn’t give the best results SOOC.
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