Canon SX40 HS has much improved video

One my cameras is a Canon SX1IS that I bought used. This model is probably 2 1/2 years old now. But once I figured out how to really use it (think RAW!), I get great results. I really like using this camera for stills – I don’t have to carry a bag for lenses. Sure, its not a gaziggle pixel camera with the world’s sharpest lens, but I am not shooting professionally. Instead, it provides a lot of capability in a convenient package.

But the SX1 video has been a disappointment. It’s 1920×1080 is decent for relatively non-moving scenes, but once things have motion, the video codec gets blotching, and then there’s always the SX1’s image noise issues at higher ISOs. Since ISO selection is automatic in video mode, the video is nearly unusable in anything other than shooting video outdoors.

The Canon SX40 appears to have greatly improved the video codec, as seen in the sample video clips in this YouTube video – watch in 1080p, if you can:


No idea how the new model handles low light as that was not demo’d in that otherwise great video sample. Sony is also coming out with several new cameras that might compete with this, and I have been impressed with their low light capabilities. By next year, I suspect everyone will have full 1080p cameras at the low to mid range, and I have seen indications of 1080p60 – that’s 60 progressive frames per second, full size, coming next year too.

The video demo, above, also includes the required rolling shutter test, panning the camera quickly left and right on a vertical fence. While effective for showing what rolling shutter is, that is not a common scenario. I’ve been discovering some issues with rolling shutter on my Lumix GH-2 at long telephoto settings that are more problematic than fast pans. Specifically, if I use the 45-200mm zoom at the 200mm setting (think 400mm full frame equivalent lens), and then switch into the ETC extended digital teleconverter mode where it isolates just 1920×1080 pixels (multiply by 2.6 times) giving a 1040mm (full frame) effective lens, the very slightest motion produces skew and wobble in the image.

Last week I shot a scene using this feature – since a 1040mm equivalent lens is compressing a huge amount of atmosphere, the thermal refraction occurring in the image made the image wobble. And sure enough, that resulted in rolling shutter issues even though the camera was locked down securely on a tripod!

Some day … an electronic global shutter will be added to CMOS sensors, I suppose. Until then, for long range video shooting, I prefer CCD imagers.

Update: October 10, 2011: I previously labeled the camera the SX40IS but it is the SX40 HS. I corrected that in the title of this post. A lot of us made that mistake as the older cameras it replaces were “IS”.

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2 thoughts on “Canon SX40 HS has much improved video”

    1. Well, that figures! Canon just introduced it a couple of weeks ago. They also now call it the Canon SX40 HS instead of the IS. The IS originally stood, I think, for image stabilization. The HS stands for “hybrid” or something – it is supposed to improve the low light performance.

      You can order one from Amazon though!

      The SX40 is an evolution in their PowerShot line – includes a very long zoom lens, 1080p video, manual overrides of most everything for still shooting. But it apparently does NOT include RAW mode – that’s a bummer.

      I have the SX1IS. The video on the SX1IS is not so good, and all indoor shooting ends up with noise galore since there is no way to control the video gain/ISO during video mode. But the still shooting in its 12-bit RAW mode is quite good and I have been very pleased. The lens isn’t so sharp at its wide angle position but everything else is great.

      But that’s a bummer that Canon would intro the SX40 HS but not include RAW mode.

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