Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot A510 Test Images
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumbnail index page for the test shots. The data on this page 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 thumbnail index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digital cameras, 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 A510 did pretty well, but produced more contrast than I'd prefer.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in high contrast, but reasonably bright midtones. The highlights on the white shirt and in the flower bouquet are quite bright, as a result of the high contrast, and the shadows are dark. (Intended mainly as a "point and shoot" digital camera, the A510 has no option for adjusting its contrast.) All three of the A510's white balance settings produced good results here, though I chose the Auto setting as the most accurate overall. The Daylight setting had a very slight warm cast, and the Manual setting had a reddish tint. Still, good results with each.
Skin tones look pretty good in Marti's face, if a little pinkish, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are a hint dark, with purplish tints. (Many digital cameras have trouble with this blue, which is actually a light navy with just hints of purple.) The color looks good throughout the rest of the frame, with good saturation as well. Resolution is good for the camera's three-megapixel class, and detail is strong in Marti's features as well as in the flower bouquet. Shadow detail is moderate, and image noise is low.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A51OUTAP0.HTM
through A51OUTAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Excellent resolution and detail, but again, high contrast.
Though contrast is again high from the high-key lighting, midtone detail is good here. The shot at right was taken with a no exposure compensation adjustment and is a little dark in the midtones, but I felt that the shot with +0.3 EV of adjustment was just too bright. The A510's 4x zoom lens helps prevent geometric distortion in Marti's features. Resolution and detail are even better in this close-up shot, and the fine details of Marti's face and hair are well-defined. A good job.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files A51OUTFACAP0.HTM
through A51OUTFACAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good performance from the camera's flash, with pretty good color as well.
The A510's built-in flash illuminated the subject very well with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, though the default exposure was somewhat dim. Overall color is warm from the background incandescent lighting, with orange tints on Marti's hair and shirt, as well as on the background. Marti's skin tone looks pretty good, albeit a little warm from the room lighting, but the blue flowers are dark and purplish. A positive point here is that the color from the flash matches that of the room lighting fairly well, avoiding the harsh blue highlights I sometimes see in flash photos shot under incandescent lighting.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files A51INFP0.HTM
through A51INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Good color with the Incandescent white balance, and good exposure as well.
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 A510's Auto white balance setting fell victim to this trap, producing a strong orange cast. However, the A510's Manual and Incandescent settings both produced nearly accurate color, though I settled on the Incandescent setting for the main shot. (The Manual setting was just slightly greenish.) Marti's skin tone looks good, though slightly pinkish, but the flower bouquet looks very good, better than I've come to expect from cameras on this shot. The blue flowers do have slight purplish tints to them, but their color is just about right, considering the difficult light source here. The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average. An excellent job.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files A51INTP0.HTM
through A51INTP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Accurate color, with high resolution and good detail for the A510's 3-megapixel class.
While all three of the A510's white balance settings tested performed
pretty well here, I chose the Manual setting
as the most accurate overall, based on the white value of the house trim.
The Daylight and Auto
settings resulted in very slight warm casts, but results were still quite
good. Taking into consideration its 3-megapixel CCD, resolution is very
high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs, front shrubbery, and house
front. Details are also sharp throughout the frame.
High resolution and strong detail for its 3-megapixel class, but high contrast limits the dynamic range slightly.
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 A510 captures very good detail for a 3-megapixel camera. The leaf patterns in the front shrubbery and in the tree limbs above the roof show a lot of fine detail, as does the brick pattern on the house front. Details are sharp and well-defined, though with very slight softness in the corners of the frame. The bright sunlight causes the camera to lose a lot of detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, which is a trouble spot for many digital cameras. Detail is moderate in the shadow area above the front door as well, further evidence of a limited dynamic range. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and color effects series.
Color Effects Series:
Lens Zoom Range
A better than average 4x zoom range.
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 (4x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The A510's lens is equivalent to a 35-140mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty good telephoto, a longer range than the 3x zoom offered by most point & shoot digital cameras. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Some color cast with each setting, but good overall results. High resolution and detail.
This shot is often a tough test for digital cameras, as the abundance
of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into
producing a warm color balance. Though slightly cool, I chose the A510's
Manual white balance setting for the main
shot here, despite slightly pale and magenta skin tones. Both the Auto
and Daylight settings resulted in warmer color
casts. The shadows of the blue robe are somewhat purplish from the magenta
tint, and the blue background has some purplish tints as well. Resolution
is very high, and the embroidered bird wings on the blue robe show a lot
of detail, as well as the models' accessories and instruments.
A small macro area with great detail. Flash has trouble up close though.
The A510 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum
area of 1.98 x 1.48 inches (50 x 38 millimeters). Resolution is high and
detail is strong throughout the frame, though the coins and brooch are
soft due to the close shooting range. Details soften slightly toward the
furthest corners of the frame, but are sharp on the dollar bill. (Most
digital cameras produce images with soft corners when shooting in their
Macro modes.) The A510's flash had trouble
at such close range, and overexposed the majority of the image, leaving
a strong shadow in the lower right corner of the frame. (Definitely plan
on using external lighting for your close-in macro shots with the A510.)
"Davebox" Test Target
Nearly accurate color, and a good exposure.
The A510's Manual white balance setting produced
the best results here, as the Auto and Daylight
settings were both slightly warm. Exposure looks about right, and the
A510 has no trouble distinguishing the subtle tonal variations of the
Q60 target. The color here is typical "Canon Color," a compliment
to any camera. Most colors are slightly oversaturated, with the exception
of the bright yellow swatch, which is a bit undersaturated. Cyans and
light blues are shifted fairly strongly toward deeper blues (more so than
on the A520), which makes for good-looking sky colors. Reds and pinks
are also a bit more saturated than on the A520. Generally, a good balance
between pleasing color and accuracy, but I'd like to see the blues a bit
less saturated. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows good
detail, with moderately low noise.
The results in the tests below mirror those seen above in other test
shots. The test series are repeated here without further comment, for
the benefit of our more quantitatively-oriented readers.
Color Effects Series:
Excellent low-light performance. Good color and exposure, with low image noise, at the darkest light levels of this test. Pretty good low-light autofocus performance.
The A510 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at the 100, 200, and 400 ISO settings. At ISO 50, images were bright down to the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level, though the target is visible at the lowest light level of the test. Noise is fairly low in most shots, and even at ISO 400, image noise is high but the grain pattern isn't too bright. The A510's autofocus system worked down to a bit brighter than 1/4 foot-candle with the AF-assist light turned off, and down to about 1/4 foot-candle with it on. (Oddly, the AF-assist light didn't extend the AF range all that much.) Since city street-lighting at night generally corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, the A510 should perform well in most average night settings. 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.
(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to
check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a
light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two
seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)
Flash Range Test
A weak flash, underexposing slightly even at eight feet.
In my testing, the A510's flash underexposed the target a little at 8 feet, showing significant decreases in intensity from the nine-foot distance on. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 1,075 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion at wide angle, no pincushion at telephoto. Good corner sharpness, almost no chromatic aberration.
The A510 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its 3.2-megapixel class. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines horizontally, 1,050 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,250 lines. Here's a sample image with the camera's Low Sharpness setting.
Geometric distortion on the A510 is about average at the wide-angle end,
where I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto
end fared quite a bit better, as I measured approximately 0.11 percent
pincushion distortion (about two pixels' worth). Chromatic aberration
is virtually nonexistent, as I couldn't really find any strong pixels
of coloration. (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.) The A510's images were also sharper than average in the corners,
where many digital camera lenses get quite soft.
Resolution Series, medium focal length
Resolution Test, Zoom Series
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor.
The A510's optical viewfinder is very tight, showing only 80 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 82 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor actually proved very slightly loose, showing just a bit more than what made it into the final frame, though results were near 100 percent accuracy. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the A510's LCD monitor performed pretty well here, but its optical viewfinder could use some help. Flash distribution is a little uneven at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.
A510 Test Images
A510 "Picky Details"
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