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Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot A300 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Great detail, resolution, and color, though some barrel distortion from the lens.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the PowerShot A300 performed well.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones without losing too much highlight detail. (Some folks might prefer the results of the +0.7EV setting but I felt it gave up too much highlight detail.) The Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced similar results, though I felt the Daylight setting was the most accurate. Skin tones are just a little pink, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are nearly spot-on and only slightly dark. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right, but the A300 gets the hue pretty nearly correct.) The red flowers in the bouquet are a little oversaturated, with a slight halo around the brighter areas.

Resolution is good, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Details are also sharp, and image noise the shadows is low. I noticed some barrel distortion from the wide-angle lens as well. Still, a very good job with color and exposure.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A300OUTDP0.HTM through A300OUTDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Closer Portrait:

Increased resolution and detail. Lots of distortion from the fixed focal length, wide-angle lens though.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, though the A300's fixed focal length lens distorts Marti's features quite a bit. (This is a good example of why you'd want a zoom lens on a camera if you're interested in close-up portraits.) Detail is excellent, however, with well-defined details visible in Marti's face and hair. The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which produced good midtones. Only the strongest highlights are blown out. Shadow detail is again good, with low noise.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+0.3 EV
Slow-Sync Flash
+0.7 EV

Fairly good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, good color as well.

The A300's built-in flash illuminates the subject well here, although with a little falloff in the corners and at the edges of the frame. The best exposure was obtained with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened up Marti's features without losing too much highlight detail in her shirt. Overall color looks very good, although the background incandescent lighting produces an orange/magenta cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features slightly. I also snapped a shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which combines the flash with a slower shutter speed. The longer exposure lets in more ambient light, which brightens the image, particularly the background. The orange cast is still present and more prominent on Marti's face and hair, but the net result is a more natural-looking image. (The flash is particularly well balanced to the color of the room lighting, with none of the harsh blue highlights I sometimes see in this type of shot.) The best exposure in this mode was obtained with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment.

To view the entire exposure series in the normal flash mode from zero to +0.7 EV, see files A30INFP0.HTM through A30INFP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files A30INFSP0.HTM through A30INFSP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Excellent results with both Incandescent and Manual white balance settings. Good overall exposure and color.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The A300's Incandescent white balance setting produced the best color here, though the Manual option produced very similar results (just slightly greenish). The Auto setting really had trouble, and resulted in a strong orange cast. Marti's skin tone looks about right, and the blue flowers aren't too bad. (They are slightly dark and purplish, but really pretty good considering the difficult light source.) The main shot has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average for this shot.

To view the entire exposure series, from zero to +1.3 EV, see files A30INTP0.HTM through A30INTP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


ISO Series:
Noise is generally low on the A300, almost invisible at the ISO 50 setting. As usual, noise increases with increasing ISO, becoming very strong, with a strong grain pattern at ISO 400.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Great resolution, detail, and color.

All three white balance settings produced very similar results on this shot, though I felt that the Auto setting had the most accurate white value on the house trim. Manual and Daylight settings were both nearly accurate though. Color is good, although the bricks are a bit brighter than they are on the poster that's the target for this test. Resolution is high, with great detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery, as well as in the house trim. Details are also sharp throughout most of the frame, though there is come softness present in all four corners. A good job overall.



 

Far-Field Test

Good resolution and detail, but overexposure results in reduced dynamic range.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the A300 does a good job, though its fixed-focal-length lens limits the camera's capabilities somewhat. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show a lot of fine detail, considering the shooting distance. Details are just slightly soft, but larger elements are still well-defined. There is some softness present in all four corners of the frame, however. The camera loses most of the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams that's exacerbated by the slight overexposure of the A300's shot here. Detail is also minimal in the shadow area above the front door, evidence of a rather limited dynamic range. (Odd though, in that I didn't notice similar limitations in my Outdoor Portrait test above, which also has deliberately harsh lighting.) Overall color looks good, but as noted, the exposure is a little bright. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and Picture Effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
A30FARLF
A30FARLN
A30FARLE
1,600 x 1,200
A30FARMF
   
1,024 x 768
A30FARSF
   
640 x 480
A30FARTF
   


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Picture Effects Series:
The A300 offers Canon's standard Picture Effects menu, with a handful of color, saturation, and sharpening adjustments.

Function Series
Normal
Vivid Color
Neutral Color
Sepia
Black and White
Low Sharpening



 

Lens Zoom Range

Typical performance for a fixed-focal-length lens.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (none available in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The A300's lens is equivalent to a 33mm lens on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a bit wider than average wide-angle. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
2.5x Digital Telephoto
5x Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good color with the Manual white balance, and good detail.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The A300's Manual white balance responded with the best color here, with good skin tones, though a slightly cool color balance overall. The Daylight setting was just a hint too warm, and the Auto setting resulted in a very cool image, somewhat the opposite of what I'd normally expect with this subject. A slight magenta, cast with the Manual white balance setting results in some faint purplish tints in the blue background that aren't in the original image, but the blue robe looks very good, without any of the purple tints in the deep shadows that I so often see on this shot. Resolution is high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe, as well as in the flower garland and beaded necklaces.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Very small macro area with great detail.

The A300 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.41 x 1.81 inches (61 x 46 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with excellent detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. As with many of my other shots, there's some softness in the corners of this shot, but the effect isn't too pronounced. The A300's flash has trouble throttling down for the macro area, creating a hot spot in the top of the frame and a dark shadow at the bottom. Overall, a very good macro performance, but plan on using external illumination for the closest shots.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good exposure and overall saturation, though additive primaries (red, blue, and green) are a little oversaturated. Good color with all three white balances.

All three white balance settings produced very similar results here, although I finally settled on the Auto setting as having the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. The Daylight setting was practically identical, and the Manual setting resulted in a slight green cast. Exposure looks pretty good, and the A300 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target without difficulty. The large color blocks are bright and vibrant, though the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are a little "hot." The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows moderate detail, with low noise. An excellent performance overall.

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

Low-Light Tests

Reasonably good low-light performance, suitable for capturing images under average city street lighting at night.

The A300 has a maximum shutter time of one second, which doesn't make for really excellent low-light shooting capabilities. However, combined with the adjustable sensitivity setting, the A300 can capture bright images in reasonably dark situations. In my testing, the camera captured bright images as low as 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux), which is about one f-stop darker than average city street lighting at night. However, at ISO 50, images were still dim even at the one foot-candle (11 lux) light level. Image noise is low at the ISO 50 setting, and increases only moderately at ISO 400. Color is pretty good, albeit a little understated, due to the dim lighting. (The camera seemed to underexpose slightly here, even at light levels where the combination of ISO and maximum exposure time could have produced a bright image.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
50
Click to see A30LL0503.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL0504.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL0505.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL0506.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL0507.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

ISO
100
Click to see A30LL1003.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL1004.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL1005.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL1006.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL1007.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

ISO
200
Click to see A30LL2003.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL2004.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL2005.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL2006.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL2007.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

ISO
400
Click to see A30LL4003.JPG

1/ 3 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL4004.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL4005.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL4006.JPG

1 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30LL4007.JPG

1 secs
F3.6




 

Flash Range Test

Low flash intensity even at eight feet.

Canon rates the A300's flash as effective to approximately 6.6 feet, which matches my own findings. In my testing, the flash was dim even at the minimum eight foot distance I test at, and became increasingly more so with each additional foot of distance. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see A30FL08.JPG

1/100 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30FL09.JPG

1/100 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30FL10.JPG

1/80 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30FL11.JPG

1/80 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30FL12.JPG

1/80 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30FL13.JPG

1/60 secs
F3.6

Click to see A30FL14.JPG

1/60 secs
F3.6

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1050 lines of "strong detail" horizontally, 950 vertically. High barrel distortion and chromatic aberration.

The A300 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 650 lines per picture height vertically, and around 600 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,050 lines horizontally, and 950 lines vertically. (As is sometimes the case, the A300 is much more susceptible to producing artifacts in fine detail in the vertical direction than in the horizontal.) "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,200 lines.

Optical distortion on the A300 is a little higher than average, as I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. There's quite a bit of softening in the extreme corners of the image (caused by the optical phenomena known as "coma"), but chromatic aberration is very low, as there's very little color to be found in the fringes around the target elements. (Chromatic aberration is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
A30RESWLF
A30RESWLN
A30RESWLE
1,600 x 1,200
A30RESWMF
A30RESWMN
A30RESWME
1,024 x 768
A30RESWSF
A30RESWSN
A30RESWSE
640 x 480
A30RESWTF
A30RESWTN
A30RESWTE




 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor, though the optical viewfinder is a little tight.

The A300's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 83 percent of the image final image area. The LCD monitor is much more accurate, showing approximately 98 percent frame accuracy. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the A300's LCD monitor performs well in that regard, but I'd like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder. Flash distribution is uneven but reasonably bright, with falloff in the corners and at the edges of the frame.


Wide Angle, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD



 

 

A300 Review
A300 Test Images
A300 Specifications
A300 "Picky Details"
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