Customer Review

274 of 334 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It sucks. There is a new childproof governor on Manual setting., October 23, 2011
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This review is from: Canon SX40 HS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 35x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch Vari-Angle Wide LCD (Camera)
The Manual setting on the new SX40 has a new childproof governor on it. The SX30 did not. Try to set the ISO at 400 for a night shot, and then spin the dial towards a 15 second shutter speed. It stops it at 1 second and drops the ISO to 100. Then a message appears on the LCD which says, "ISO speed is limited due to slow shutter speed." I verified it with the Canon Tech Dept. They also verified that the previous Canon cameras DID allow full Manual control in setting both the ISO and shutter speed, but no more.

This has halted a large portion of the sunset and night photography I have been doing of the Monterey Bay Harbor for the past 2 years. It is condescending and insulting to adults in general and to long-term Canon users in particular to presume to say to us, "We think you don't know what you are doing, you must be an errant child, and we have put a childproof governor on the SX40 so that you cannot use those manual settings anymore." Obviously if we use a Manual setting it is precisely because we do know what we are doing! Canon needs to UPGRADE its firmware to make the SX40 at least as good as the SX30, not DOWNGRADE its features to make it worse.

UPDATE: Many of you have asked me for an example of nighttime time-exposure photos* of Monterey Bay Harbor for comparison. Here it is.
* [When I first made the video I did not yet understand the subtle distinction between "time-exposure" and "time-lapse" photos. The more precise term is "time-exposure," but the video still shows the less accurate term "time-lapse."]

I agree that overall the Canon SX40 is an excellent camera. I still use mine during the daytime. I am not arguing about "overall." That is not my point.

For me, personally, the SX40 has a fatal flaw, and a flaw that no one would normally expect in a camera of this caliber and price range. It won't take simple time-exposure night shots. Why not?

I had to buy an older SX30 just to "upgrade" my full use of it. If you think that having to pay twice for what should have come in one camera in the first place put me in a good mood, then you would be mistaken.

You may watch this short video, if you like, and see the evidence for yourself. If you disagree, then by all means please show me your evidence.

SECOND UPDATE: There is another limit on the SX40. This one is in plain sight and it effects everyone who wants to use this camera on a tripod. Please see Page 16 of the Comments for more details.
THIRD UPDATE: Another poster has stated the following, "Certain things in a camera are a given. 1) a true manual mode. 2) have the battery & memory card in a convenient place." This poster is absolutely right. Please see pages 17 and 18 of the Comments for more details.
FOURTH AND FINAL UPDATE: March 11, 2012; Canon's conduct of imposing this ISO limit on the SX40 in secrecy has now been fully exposed for what it is by its own corporate rival, Fujifilm. After five months of fighting against this, I have now been fully vindicated by the openness and honesty of the Fujifilm corporation. I shall now be taking my leave of you on this post and I will be returning to my former routine of enjoying my own photography. See Page 22 of the Comments section for details.
AFTERMATH UPDATE: March 31, 2012; I have come to the conclusion that the Canon SX40 is like a thoroughbred race horse penned up in a stable made for a dimwitted donkey. It is a camera with a tremendous potential over a wide range of photographic interests that is being held trapped inside a childproof box. After having tested the camera myself with CHDK - a form of public, hacker software for the camera, available for free download on the internet - I can see that the ISO limit is only a very small part overall of what is actually being limited. When you take those limits off of it by using CHDK, what the SX40 camera really can do is absolutely staggering.

I don't like having to resort to a hacker program like CHDK to get the settings I want with the SX40. Unfortunately, it seems that CHDK is simply "the only game in town" if you want to have the freedom to use the Canon SX40 to its fullest potential. Please see page 25 of the Comments for further details.

Best Wishes to All, and to All a Goodnight, John
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Tracked by 19 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 372 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 23, 2011 11:38:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 23, 2011 12:20:40 PM PDT
T.C.O says:
Have you been able to get any quality sunset/ night shots with this camera?
I wanted to upgrade from my s2,s3 for better low light pictures. But after hearing this I might wait to see if they are going to port this camera with CHDK to get by the "blocked" settings, before I spend the money on a limited camera. I have been waiting for this type of info THANK YOU .

Posted on Oct 23, 2011 2:40:23 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Oct 23, 2011 5:48:31 PM PDT
Mr. See says:
Hi John, I checked the SX40's User Guide online (I don't own the SX40--I do own the SX20 which I love). On page 104, it discusses the Manual setting. At the bottom of the page it says, "If you press the (up) button while holding down the shutter button halfway, the shutter speed or aperture value (whichever is not chosen...), will automatically adjust to obtain the correct exposure (the correct exposure may not be obtained depending on the settings)." Could you have been doing that-pressing the (up) button while using it?

I'm just wondering because that WOULD be a deal breaker if Canon messed up on the Manual control like you say. Thanks,

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2011 7:44:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 23, 2011 8:19:36 PM PDT
No, sorry, but this is the real thing. I called Canon Tech Support just to be sure. None of the tech support people were aware of it until I pointed it out to them. They tried it on their own SX40 and it turned out to be true. The childproof governor (though they don't call it that) is mentioned on about page 102 of the User Manual, I think, where it is commented on in the Tv mode, but there is no mention of it in the M mode. But after confirming it, tech support also confirmed that given the nature of it, it cannot be overridden by the consumer in any form. Yep, it is a deal breaker for Canon at this point.

BTW - I don't own an SX20, but right now I wish I did. It still ran on AA batteries. I have commented at length on the economic savings of the AA batteries in my review of the Canon SX150, which I also own. I bought one spare Canon proprietary battery for the SX40 -- $62 plus tax retail. I would like to hope that Canon would show some common sense for the hard-pressed consumer in these difficult economic times and bring back the AA batteries in their SX50. But I won't hold my breath.

Keep your SX20. It still works just fine, and you will be money way ahead in the long run.

Best Wishes.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2011 10:48:57 AM PDT
Hey John, good work on catching that.

I just recently took an SX40hs for a test run and although I was impressed on it's improvement over the SX30is (which I considered a piece of trash really) I wasn't all that blown away when I compared it to the SX20is I currently own.

I didn't like the feel of the SX40hs in my hands. Didn't like the proprietary battery. Didn't like the noisy mechanical zoom. Didn't like the EVF. Now I hear it has firmware limitations.....

The SX40hs does take good pictures with less noise and has a great low light capability, but it was only a marginal improvement when I compared it to my SX20is. I can live with my SX20is for another year. Maybe Canon will get me to pick up the new SX next year, that's if they show enough improvement in the cam to get me to dish out the bucks.

Posted on Oct 25, 2011 10:25:50 AM PDT
Seems like something that Canon should be able to modify in a software update.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2011 9:27:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 25, 2011 9:39:27 PM PDT
R. D. :

Well, they "should" modify the firmware, yes. The point is they did it this way deliberately. And you cannot bypass it if you don't like it. The following is quoted directly from the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Camera User Guide, Page 102, "Setting the Shutter Speed."

"Depending on the zoom position, some shutter speeds may not be available."
"When shutter speeds of 1.3 seconds or slower are used, the ISO speed is fixed to ISO 100."

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2011 9:00:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 26, 2011 9:01:24 AM PDT
I've set my iso to 60,50, and even 40 with my SX20is with the aid of CHDK. Works fantastic on super-bright daylight situations. Great quality pics if you can get the right exposure, coupled with the superfine jpeg setting which provides less compression in the photos. Of course they can tend to be underexposed with an increase in zoom with iso settings that low.

The lowest iso setting on the SX40hs is still 100. When CHDK firmware is introduced with the ne SX40hs this can quite likely be changed. Overriding the minimum iso settings at the minimum shutter speeds will quite likely be available as well. That is unless Canon releases a firmware change / update which will bypass this limitation in their current firmware.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2011 4:18:26 PM PDT
Epicac says:
I've just ordered an SX40 HS which should arrive tomorrow. I have the SX30 IS and an SD890 IS and a Sony DSC-TX10 underwater camera. I ordered the SX40 HS because I was a little disappointed in the night photo shots with the SX30 IS. I found the shots to be blurred even when shooting in night mode. I am expecting the SX40 HS to be better from a number of perspectives.

What I don't understand from your post is why you're upset that, at shooting at a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds, why you expect the ISO to be any higher than 100? At 100, I would think you'd have excellent grain quality. Are you shooting a high speed sporting event in total darkness? The one thing you did not describe is the scene you were shooting. If you don't provide the environment in which you are shooting, your statement holds no weight.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2011 12:32:33 PM PDT
M. Eve says:
My wife has also been thinking about an upgrade for her S3. We've always felt it had the perfect size and a good feature set. I've also read John's SX150 comments since I need to replace my SX110 which died after years of being abused for years in alternately wet and dusty conditions.

John, is the image quality of the SX20/30/40 any better than the SX130/150 series? Seems like the sensor is basically the same.
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