When you con­sider the price of Canon’s new Powershot SX40 HS, you won­der why you should be pay­ing al­most a DSLR’S price for a dig­i­tal cam­era. Then you take the cam­era around and you re­alise that the SX40 is in­deed worth ev­ery paisa you pay for it.

Canon’s SX cam­eras used the CCD im­age sen­sor. The new one in the se­ries re­places it with a CMOS sen­sor and this ush­ers in an aw­ful lot in terms of per­for­mance. Ex­perts will tell you that the dif­fer­ence be­tween CCD and CMOS im­age pro­cess­ing is akin to pic­ture cre­ation on a CRT and LCD mon­i­tors. This fact is per­haps cru­cial, for the SX40 is no com­pact dig­i­tal. Its megapixel rat­ing may just be 12.1, but it comes with an op­ti­cal zoom of 35X. In 35 mm cam­era equiv­a­lent, this trans­lates into an awe­some 24-840 mm zoom. A lens of that ca­pa­bil­ity would be a vir­tual can­non on a DSLR, but on the SX40, it neatly fits into a body that is small and light, if a tad pla­s­ticky.

The zoom works su­perbly and is able to cap­ture dis­tinct im­ages from a great dis­tance

away. We had to some­times use the man­ual fo­cus to en­sure the sharpest im­age at full 35X zoom, but the re­sults were sat­is­fy­ing. The colour and the sharp­ness are not com­pro­mised by the dis­tance of the sub­ject from the cam­era. At the op­po­site end, the macro shots amazed us as well. When we clicked an ant, for a fleet­ing sec­ond G&G turned into National Ge­o­graphic with the re­sult; the hairy, tof­fee translu­cent ant of gi­gan­tic pro­por­tions on our com­puter screen was un­like any we had cap­tured with an or­di­nary cam­era.

In be­tween, we found the cam­era cap­tur­ing a wide swathe of scenes with colour in­tegrity and re­mark­able sharp­ness across depths—and all with min­i­mum fuss. From low-light con­di­tions (Di­wali af­forded a great night-photography am­bi­ence) to bright land­scapes, this Canon took every­thing in stride. As we said, the Canon SX40 HS is money well spent.

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