Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon Digital Cameras > Canon PowerShot A85

Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot A85 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, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!

 

"Sunlit" Portrait:
(This is my new "Outdoor" Portrait test - read more about it here.)

High resolution and strong detail. Excellent color.

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 A85 handled the challenge pretty well.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in moderately bright midtones, and good detail in the strong highlights of Marti's shirt. Though slightly warm, I chose the Auto white balance setting for the main series, though the Daylight setting also produced good results. The Manual setting resulted in a stronger red cast.

Marti's skin tones here are just about perfect, and the very difficult blue flowers in the bouquet are pretty much dead-on. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, which is in reality a light navy with only hints of purple in it.) The bright red flowers appear more on the pink side, but the strong greens and yellows look good. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the flower bouquet and in Marti's features. Shadow detail is moderately high, with moderate noise. Overall, a really excellent job.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A85OUTBAP0.HTM through A85OUTBAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Effects Series:
Picture Effects Series
Vivid Color
Neutral Color
Black and White
Sepia



 

Closer Portrait:

Great resolution and detail, though contrast is slightly high.

Color and overall exposure are similar to the wider shot above, with slightly high contrast. The midtones in Marti's face are just about right, and the highlights of her shirt are nicely under control, but the high contrast leaves the shadows around her eyes a little too deep. Still though, a very good handling of a very tough subject. The shot at right was taken with no exposure compensation adjustment. The A85's 3x zoom lens does a good job of preventing any geometric distortion of Marti's features. Detail and resolution are excellent, with great definition in Marti's face and hair, as well as in the fabric of the green leaves.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A85OUTBFACAP0.HTM through A85OUTBFACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+1.0 EV

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, but an orange cast from the room lighting.

The A85's built-in flash underexposed this shot at the default exposure, but provided fairly even coverage despite the low intensity. I chose a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment for the main shot, as Marti's features were better illuminated. Her shirt looks a little "hot," but highlight detail is still preserved. The strong incandescent lighting in the room results in an orange cast on the back wall, which also spills onto Marti's features and shirt somewhat. Still, overall color is pretty good.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files A85INFP0.HTM through A85INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

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

Very good color with both the Incandescent and Manual white balances. Image noise is a bit higher than average, and some detail seems lost to noise reduction processing though.

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. It was a toss-up between the A85's Incandescent and Manual white balance settings, as both produced similar results. The slight warmth of the Incandescent setting looked a little more natural to me, so I chose it for the main example here. (The Auto white balance option resulted in a very strong warm cast.) Skin tones look pretty good, just a little more pink than would be ideal, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are nearly right, very impressive for this shot. The bright red flowers have a stronger pink hue, but the greens and yellows look good. Image noise is higher than average, and the anti-noise processing appears to obscure fine detail in Marti's face. The best exposure was obtained with 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 A85INMP0.HTM through A85INMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
The A85 has a tendency to produced slightly high image noise on average, with some noise visible even at ISO 50. The grain pattern is fine and tight though, which makes it less objectionable than it would be otherwise. I don't personally care for the results at ISO 400, but visually, they look better than those of most consumer cameras at that level (despite the fact that the numeric noise figures are a fair bit higher than average), and I suspect that a lot of people would find them acceptable for limited usage.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

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

High resolution and strong detail, with accurate color.

The A85's Manual white balance produced the best results here, though the Auto and Daylight settings also performed well (with just a slightly warmer color balances). Resolution is very high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs above the roof, as well as in the smaller leaf details of the front shrubbery. The brick pattern of the house is well-defined also. Details are sharp throughout the frame. An excellent job all around.



 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, though a slightly limited 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 A85 performed very well for its four-megapixel class. Fine detail is strong in the tree limbs over the roof, as well as in the fine foliage in front of the house, with great definition in the leaf patterns. Details are also fairly sharp from corner to corner, with less softening in the corners than I'm accustomed to seeing in digicam photos. The harsh lighting combined with the A85's slightly high native contrast results in it losing most of the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is pretty good, though, in the shadow area above the front door. The Auto white balance setting produced accurate color, and exposure is about right, though contrast is high. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
A85FAR2272F
A85FAR2272N
A85FAR2272E
1,600 x 1,200
A85FAR1600
-
1,024 x 768
A85FAR1024
-
 -
640 x 480
A85FAR0640
-


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Effects Series:

Effects Series
Neutral Color
Vivid Color
Black & White
Sepia
Post
Low Sharpening



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x 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 (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The A85's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
3.6x Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Nearly accurate color, though slightly warm. High resolution and a lot of visible fine 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. Though just slightly warm, I chose the A85's Daylight white balance setting for this shot. The Auto setting resulted in a bit stronger warm cast, while the Manual setting appeared more magenta (All three results were within the acceptable range, the A85 generally doing a better than average job of dealing with this tricky white balance challenge.) The blue background has a few purplish tints in the darker areas from the warm cast, as do the deep shadows of the blue robe. Skin tones are pretty good, particularly in the shot captured with Daylight white balance. Detail is great in the bird wings on the blue robe, as well as in the necklaces and instrument details, evidence of high resolution. Details are also sharp, from corner to corner.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro Shot with Flash

A small macro area with excellent detail, but the flash has trouble up close.

The A85 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.53 x 1.90 inches (64 x 48 millimeters). Resolution is very high, and detail is excellent in the brooch, coins, and dollar bill. Details are very sharp throughout most of the frame, though all four corners are soft. (Softness in the corners of the frame is unfortunately a very common failing among consumer digicams in Macro mode.) Color and exposure look good as well. The A85's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the shot. - Plan on using external lighting for your closest shots with the A85.


 

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

Good overall exposure and color, good dynamic range.

Both the A85's Auto and Manual white balance settings produced good results here, so I stuck with the Auto setting for the main selection. (The Daylight setting resulted in a slight warm cast.) The exposure here is about right, and the A85 has no trouble distinguishing the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks look pretty good to the eye, with the slightly boosted saturation that's characteristic of consumer digicams. The A85 though, is an interesting example of a situation in which less than perfectly accurate color actually ends up looking very good to the eye: The analytical results from Imatest show that the cyan colors are hue-shifted significantly toward the blues, and that some of the blues are shifted a bit away from purple. Despite these inaccuracies in absolute color values, I'd say that the A85's color is excellent. (The hue shifts in cyan and blue colors are likely there to produce more appealing sky colors.) Detail is strong in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with high noise.


Now, for the REAL technoids, Imatest!

I've recently begun using Norman Koren's excellent "Imatest" analysis program for quantitative, thoroughly objective analysis of digicam test images. For those interested, I've prepared a page summarizing what Imatest showed me about the PowerShot A85's images.


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.

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Effects Series:

Effects Series
Neutral Color
Vivid Color
Black & White
Sepia




 

Low-Light Tests

Good low-light performance, with relatively low image noise. Autofocus works down to a bit darker than one foot-candle. (Slightly darker than typical city street lighting at night.)

The A85 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test at the 200 and 400 ISO settings. At ISO 100, images were bright as low as 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux), and at ISO 50, images were bright as low as 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux). Color was good with the Auto white balance, though just slightly pink at the lower light levels. The A85 handled image noise well here, producing low noise levels at the 50 and 100 ISO settings, and only a moderate level at ISO 200. Even at ISO 400, noise is high, but not overpowering, at least not compared to what I'm accustomed to seeing from consumer digicams at that level. While the A85 could successfully shoot at very low light levels though, its autofocus system worked only down to about 0.7 foot-candles though, just a little darker than typical city night scenes. 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.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
50
Click to see A85LL0503.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL0504.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL0505.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL0506.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL0507.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see A85LL1003.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL1004.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL1005.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL1006.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL1007.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see A85LL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL2004.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL2005.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL2006.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL2007.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see A85LL4003.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL4004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL4005.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL4006.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see A85LL4007.JPG
8 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

Slight underexposure with the flash, falloff starts at 9-10 feet.

In my testing, the A85's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, though with a significant decrease in intensity. Flash power was fairly consistent to about 10 feet, then fell off in intensity from there. 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 A85FL08.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8
Click to see A85FL09.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8
Click to see A85FL10.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8
Click to see A85FL11.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8
Click to see A85FL12.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8
Click to see A85FL13.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8
Click to see A85FL14.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.8



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,150 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion, higher than average pincushion though.

The A85 performed pretty well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines vertically, 1,200 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,500 lines.

Using its "MTF 50" criteria, Imatest reported average resolution of 943 line widths/picture height, or 1113 LW/PH when normalized to a standard 1-pixel sharpening.

Optical distortion on the A85 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as I measured a 0.6 percent pincushion distortion there. Chromatic aberration is quite low, showing three or four pixels of very light coloration on either side of the target lines. (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.) Overall, a good quality lens.

Resolution Series, 50mm
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
A85RES2272F
A85RES2272N
A85RES2272E
1,600 x 1,200
A85RES1600
-
-
1,024 x 768
A85RES1024
-
-
640 x 480
A85RES0640
-
-

 

Resolution Test, Zoom Series
2,272 x 1,704
(Fine, Wide)
A85RESW
2,272 x 1,704
(Fine, Tele)
A85REST

Effects Series

Effects Series
Low Sharpness
Post?



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor, but a very tight optical viewfinder.

The A85's optical viewfinder is very tight, showing only about 77 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, at about 100 percent. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the A85's LCD monitor is just about perfect in this respect, but the camera really needs a more accurate optical viewfinder. Flash distribution is somewhat uneven at wide angle, with strong falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even, with only slight falloff in the corners.




A85 Review
A85 Test Images
A85 Imatest Results
A85 Specifications
A85 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Canon PowerShot A85, or add comments of your own!


Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate