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Canon A530 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A 4x optical zoom range, with good performance.

35mm
140mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Canon PowerShot A530 zooms over the equivalent of a 35-140mm range, slightly more zoom than the average consumer digital camera. Details are a hint soft at wide angle, though still well defined. There's just a bit of coma distortion in the tree branches against the sky, and a small amount of blurring in the corners as well. The 4x digital zoom takes it out to 16x total, though with the loss of quality that digital zoom creates.

Macro
A small macro area with great detail and resolution. Flash exposure is uneven, with strong shadows and highlights.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Canon A530's macro setting performs very well, capturing a small minimum area of 1.98 x 1.49 inches (50 x 38 millimeters). Detail and resolution are both very good, with good definition in the fine details of the dollar bill and coins. There's some moderate softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The Canon A530's flash had a little trouble up close, with very uneven coverage resulting in a hot spot in the top left corner and a dark shadow in the lower right corner. (Plan on using external lighting in your closest macro shots with the A530.)

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion at wide angle, though almost no distortion at telephoto.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The Canon A530's 0.8% barrel distortion at wide angle is average among the cameras I've tested, although I personally feel that this level is too high. At the telephoto end, the A530 produced only one pixel of barrel distortion, or about 0.04%, which is very low.

Barrel distortion at 35mm is 0.8%
Barrel distortion at 140mm is 0.04%

Chromatic aberration
Moderate, small effect on images at edges.

Wide: moderate, top left @ 200% Wide: fairly bright, top right @ 200%
Tele: quite low, top left @200% Tele: quite low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate on the Canon A530 at wide angle, showing about 3-4 pixels of dim coloration on either side of the target lines closest to the edge of the frame. Some blurring in the corners intensifies the effect, though. At telephoto, the effect is much smaller, with dull pixels. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in all four corners of the frame, though the effect is small.

Wide: slightly soft in the lower left corner. Wide: sharper at center.
Tele: slight blurring in lower left. Tele: still a hint soft at center.

The Canon A530 produced soft corners in a few shots, with about the same level of blurring in all four corners of the frame. Though the effect is noticeable, the blurring doesn't extend too far into the frame.

Viewfinder

Coverage
A tight optical viewfinder, but very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

35mm eq., optical viewfinder 140mm eq., optical viewfinder
35mm eq., LCD monitor 140mm eq., LCD monitor

The Canon A530's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing only about 80% frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 77% at telephoto. However, the LCD monitor showed a little over 100% frame accuracy at both zoom settings, though my standard measurement lines were just out of frame.