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Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Optics


Lens

Zoom
Outstanding 20x optical zoom range, with good performance. Digital zoom also performs well.

28mm 560mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Canon PowerShot SX10's 20x optical zoom range covers the equivalent of a 28-560mm zoom on a 35mm camera, which is very impressive. Results at full wide angle are generally good, with only a small amount of noticeable blurring in the corners of the frame and a low level of coma distortion. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, but the level of fine detail is still quite good. The Canon SX10's lens performance at full telephoto is quite good, with well-defined details throughout the frame, but some chromatic aberration is visible. The camera's 4x digital zoom also performed well, and holds on to a high level of detail despite digital enlargement. Very good results overall for such a high-ratio zoom.

Macro
Smaller than average macro area, with strong detail in the center of the frame. The Canon SX10 IS's flash is unavailable this close.

Standard Macro Super Macro Mode

The Canon PowerShot SX10's macro setting captured a fairly small minimum area measuring 1.43 x 1.07 inches (36 x 27 millimeters). Resolution and detail are high in the center of the frame on the dollar bill. However, details are slightly soft in the corners. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) Exposure is quite uneven, with a strong hot spot along the left side and a shadow extending into the right. The PowerShot SX10's flash is unavailable at this close range, so you'll definitely need external lighting for your closest macro shots. The Canon SX10 IS also offers a Super Macro option, but results here are very similar to those in normal mode.

Geometric Distortion
Higher than average barrel distortion at wide-angle, though practically no distortion at telephoto.

Barrel distortion at 28mm is 1.0%
Pincushion at 560mm is less than 0.1%

The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS' 1.0% barrel distortion at wide-angle is higher than average compared to most consumer digital cameras, but not surprising for such a wide-angle megazoom lens. The effect is very noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end, the SX10 IS' less than 0.1% pincushion distortion is very low and barely noticeable (only about one pixel). Distortion 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).

Chromatic Aberration
High and bright chromatic aberration at wide-angle and telephoto.

Wide: Moderately high and very bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: Slightly less bright but still
moderately high,
top left @200%
Tele: Also moderately high,
top right @200%

The Canon SX10's 20x zoom lens exhibits high and bright chromatic aberration at both wide-angle and telephoto, and it extends fairly far into the frame. This is very common among extreme zoom lenses, and can be reduced after capture with aftermarket image software. Chromatic aberration is a form of distortion visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Sharpness
Strong blurring in the lower left corner at wide angle, but other corners show only slight blurring. Only minimal softness at telephoto.

Wide: Soft in the
corners (lower left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Little softening in the
corners (upper right).
Tele: Sharper at center.

The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS produced slight blurring in all but one of the corners of the frame at full wide-angle, as the lower left corner was markedly much softer than the other three. At full telephoto, softening in the corners was minimal. For a 20x zoom with a 28mm wide-angle, this is actually quite good.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the EVF and the LCD monitor.

28mm eq., EVF 560mm eq., EVF
28mm eq., LCD 560mm eq., LCD

The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS' EVF and LCD monitor both proved very accurate. At wide angle, the EVF showed about 103% coverage accuracy, with about 100% at telephoto. The LCD monitor produced nearly identical results. Excellent performance here.