Canon PowerShot SD1000 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Overall very good color, with good hue accuracy. Some slight oversaturation in reds, blues, and greens, but still quite good results.
Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Canon PowerShot SD1000 does oversaturate the strong red tones, and some blues and greens a little, but the results are still quite pleasing.
Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. Here, the SD1000 did render skin tones slightly on the warm side in most cases, but many consumers find slightly warm skin tones more pleasing than cooler ones.
The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Here, the SD1000 again performed well, though it pushed cyan tones toward blue (a common occurrence among Canon digital cameras), and some reds toward orange. Still, very good results.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Manual white balance setting, though a hint warm. Average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto WB +1.0 EV||
Incandescent WB +1.0 EV
|Manual WB +1.0 EV|
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was only slightly warm with the Auto white balance setting, though the Manual and Incandescent options produced more accurate results. Because the Incandescent setting had a hint of a pink cast, I chose the more accurate Manual setting. The Canon SD1000 required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +1.0 EV. Despite the slight warm cast, overall color with the Manual white balance setting is excellent, without strong purple tints in the blue flowers. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the SD1000 performed very well here.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Good color and exposure, though slightly high contrast with the default setting.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Canon PowerShot SD1000 performed pretty well, with only slight overexposure in the outdoor wide shot. The camera required less than the average amount of positive exposure compensation on the portrait. Though the white shirt appears quite white, it is not quite blown out except in a few places. Impressive. Default contrast is on the high side, though the camera's contrast adjustment did a pretty good job of taming the exposure without strongly affecting the color. The SD1000 captured good color outdoors, without too strong of a warm cast. Overall, pretty good results here.
High resolution, 1,250 ~ 1,300 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,250 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,300 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,250 lines per picture height horizontally, and also about 1,300 lines vertically. Extinction occurred at around 1,800 horizontally, and at about 1,900 vertically Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images overall, though slight edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Moderate noise suppression limits detail in the shadows.
The Canon PowerShot SD1000 captures sharp images with good detail definition, though some slight edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. Very minor in this case. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.)
Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop above right shows this, as the darker areas of Marti's hair show limited detail. Still, this is a pretty good performance.
ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though a big jump in noise with strong blurring at the higher settings.
|ISO 80||ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1,600|
Noise levels are pretty low at the Canon SD1000's lower sensitivity settings, with only slightly blurred detail in the dark areas. ISO 200 still looks very clean, although the smudging caused by noise reduction is more evident. ISO 400 isn't too bad for this class of camera, but at ISO 800 image noise begins to dominate areas of fine detail, and chroma noise is obvious. At 1,600 noise is so strong and blurring so significant, that resulting images are practically useless for printing from this indoor shot. See below Output Quality below for more.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but slightly high contrast and limited shadow detail. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness.
|Default Exposure||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
The Canon PowerShot SD1000 produced fairly high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. Detail is limited in the shadow areas, with some noise suppression visible. Though some areas look a little dark at +0.3 EV, I preferred it to the image at +0.7 EV, which had too many blown highlights for my preference. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)
The Canon PowerShot SD1000 did quite well here, capturing bright images down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level (about 1/16 as bright as average city street lighting at night). At ISO 80, the image at this lowest light level is a bit dim, but really still usable. The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just below the 1/4 foot-candle light level without the AF assist light, so you'll need to make sure it's enabled for darker conditions. Do keep in mind though, that the very long shutter times necessary here absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
Slightly dim exposures at the default exposure setting; the camera required less-than-average exposure compensation for flash exposures. Typical range.
|35mm equivalent||105mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash +0.7 EV||Slow-Sync Flash +0.7 EV|
Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle; and though it was more even at telephoto, the intensity decreased. Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Canon SD1000's flash underexposed our subject a little at its default setting, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get bright results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode coverage is more even, though with a noticeable orange cast.
At wide angle, shots at ISO 100 are bright out to a distance of about 12 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, even the 6-foot shot is a tad dim, and the images darken from there.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 250
Auto ISO 200
Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims. In the shots above, the SD1000 seems to perform exactly as Canon says it will, producing good exposures (in fact, a little overexposed at wide angle) at the rated distances with its ISO set to Auto.
Good print quality, great color, good 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are still good at 5x7. Performance in incandescent lighting was not quite as good.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)
The Canon PowerShot SD1000 had enough resolution to make good looking 11x14 inch prints. 13x19 inch prints are also okay, but a little soft in the corners. ISO 400 images start to degrade in terms of color, and are really only acceptable at 8.5x11 or smaller. ISO 800 images are only good at 5x7 or smaller, and ISO 1600 shots are passable at 4x6. These are all judged based on our daylight balanced shots, where you're less likely to use ISO 800 and 1600. The indoor shots at ISO 800 and 1600 were not quite as good when printed. ISO 800 shots were only good at 4x6, and the ISO 1600 shots were unusable even at 4x6.