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Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot Pro70 Test Images

Outdoor portrait: (276k) Excellent sharpness and tonal range, holding good detail in both the highlights and shadows. While the conservative tonal compression would naturally lead to some muting of the colors, the blues are nevertheless a little weak overall. Excellent preservation of highlights is shown in the model's shirt and in the petals of the white flowers. White balance and flesh tones are particularly good, given the difficult, high-contrast lighting. (This was shot on a day with a very strong blue sky, which would ordinarily result in rather pasty flesh tones: The skin color here is warm and natural.)
 
Closer portrait: (284k) Again, a very good performance. The Pro70 easily handles the extremely strong highlights, yet maintains excellent tonal and color balance in the difficult flesh tones. Detail in the model's hair is excellent, and color saturation in the skin tone is just right.  
Indoor portrait, flash: (232k) These pictures show the "unfair advantage" the Pro70 has when compared to lesser units with on-camera flashes! We shot these with the model 380 Canon speedlight mounted on the camera's hot shoe, and the flash head angled nearly straight up, to bounce off the white ceiling of the room. (You can also get an accessory hot shoe extension cord that allows the flash to be used detached from the camera itself.) These are, without qualification, the best flash pictures we've shot with a digital camera! (No snide comments please, on the limited ability of the tester/photographer, as evidenced by our "best" shots!) The flexibility and precise control the Pro70/380 combination provides is simply unmatched by anything else in the "prosumer" marketplace. (At least, as of this writing, in early November, 1998.) One of the nicer features is how well the 380 flash works with the exposure compensation system of the camera. Our main shot (232K) was taken with +2/3 EV compensation, while this somewhat darker one (232K) represents the default settings. (This was a shot in which the differences between video standards on the Mac and Windows platforms was particularly evident: On our Mac, the darker shot looks the best, while on our Windows machine, the lighter one does.) In both pictures, the blend between room light and flash is exceptionally natural. (We're frankly puzzled as to how Canon managed to pull this off, given the extreme difference in color temperature between flash and incandescent.) One negative note, and a primary reason we found ourselves wishing for a lower-compression image-quality setting: The darker shot in particular shows a (very subtle) mottling in the flat wall at lower left, almost certainly a JPEG artifact. (This showed up on our inkjet prints, but frankly was hard to see on-screen. Clearly a minor effect...) For critical professional work, we believe that the "CCD Raw" mode of this camera will find wide application.  
Indoor portrait, no flash: (212k) Our main shot (212k) here was taken with +2/3 EV of exposure compensation dialed-in. The default exposure (208k) came out a bit dark, as did this shot (212k) with +1/3 EV of adjustment. The very fine EV compensation on the Pro70 is a big plus, letting you optimize exposure to precisely maximize use of the available dynamic range. While the Pro70 lacks explicit white-balance control, we found the performance of its automatic white-balance circuitry to be quite good. Under the very warm incandescent lighting of this shot, it produced a well-balanced image, with enough warmth left to tell that it was lit by incandescent, but not so much as to interfere with the rendition of the colors in the flowers. Color saturation is also quite good, considering the difficult lighting. While we would still like to see manual white-balance adjustment on a camera carrying the "Pro" designation of the Pro70, this is a very good performance for purely automatic color-cast removal.  
House shot: (532k) Our standard House poster reveals the exceptional resolution and detail rendition the Pro70 is capable of. Overall, detail is very good, but there are a few JPEG artifacts to be found along the sloping roof lines. Also, we believe some of the ultimate detail the camera may be capable of is lost to a somewhat heavy-handed image-sharpening algorithm. Overall though, there's little to find fault with here. As we do with most cameras having multiple resolution modes, we've shot this image using all size/resolution options, with the various images arranged in the table below.
Large/Fine
(532k)
Large/Normal
(320k)
Small/Fine
(192k)
Small/Normal
(112k)

 
 
Far-Field shot: (452k) 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.

As we've noted elsewhere, one of Canon's major strengths in the world of professional 35mm cameras is the quality of their optics. This outdoor shot clearly demonstrates that this expertise has carried over into the Pro70: Corner and edge sharpness are excellent, there's no chromatic aberration to be seen, and detail is exceptional, although some JPEG artifacts are evident (most noticeably along the right-hand sloping roof line of the central gable of the house). Some choppy artifacts also appear along strongly contrasting vertical edges, such as along the edges of the white downspouts on the right-hand side of the picture. (For whatever reason, these artifacts are more apparent in the outdoor shot than the indoor "House" poster.) We retained a copy of this image in "CCD Raw" mode, to hopefully see if these artifacts persist when no image compression is used...

 
"Musicians" poster: (340k) Again, absolutely superb detail and resolution, possibly the best we've seen. With this image, we've again taken a full set of shots, exercising all compression/image size combinations, as shown in the table below. The aperture-priority capability of the Pro70 allowed an interesting experiment here: Most cameras' autoexposure systems opt for a large lens opening for this shot, typically operating wide open, and the Pro70 was no exception. Using aperture-priority exposure though, we stopped the lens down to f5.6 for this shot (372k). The differences are subtle, but close inspection reveals a noticeable increase in sharpness in the image shot with the lens stopped-down. We feel the (stopped down) result is the sharpest rendition of this particular image we've seen to date. (Early November, 1998.)
Large/Fine
(340k)
Large/Normal
(192k)
Small/Fine
(128k)
Small/Normal
(72k)
 
Macro shot: (496k) Macro capability is superb, with a minimum coverage area of roughly 2.1 x 3.2 inches (5.4 x 8.1 cm). The 70mm maximum zoom focal length gives a working distance of 4.7 inches (12cm), a little close for maximum ease in lighting, but very good as digital cameras go. In macro mode, autofocus works all the way in, a nice feature missing from some units with fixed-focus macro modes. The macro image here is one of the crispest we've seen, with superior resolution, very good contrast, and razor-sharp focus. (Note how clearly you can see the texture of the fibers in the gray paper background.) Although we didn't try using the 380 flash for close-ups, this is an area in which the hot-shoe extension cord would be worth its weight in gold: All sorts of possibilities for macro photography open up, once you can get the flash head off the camera!  
"Davebox" test target: (236k) The "Davebox" is always a tough test of camera color accuracy and tonal rendition. The Pro70 did well here, producing clean, natural colors, holding highlight detail very well, but losing the very deepest shadows in the charcoal bricks. (It did better on the less-extreme tonal range of the vertical Kodak gray scale, discriminating gray values all the way down to the last step of the wedge.) The P70's autoexposure system was fooled a bit by the dark background of this shot, producing a somewhat over-exposed image (236k) taken with the default settings. Our main shot (236k) was taken with the exposure adjusted downward 2/3EV. (Given that we dialed-down the exposure 2/3EV in our main shot, we probably shouldn't complain about plugged shadows. Even the default exposure seemed to run out of detail abruptly in the very darkest regions though.) Colors are very natural, but slightly muted, particularly the bright yellow swatch. The color that is there though, is accurate and clean, and a slight saturation boost in Photoshop post-exposure proved very effective, thanks to the fundamental color purity. (Table)

Large/Fine
(236k)
Large/Normal
(124k)
Small/Fine
(84k)
Small/Normal
(48k)

 
ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (256k) (Technoids only) Visual resolution of ~600 - 650 line pairs per picture horizontally and ~600 vertically is possibly the sharpest we've seen to date (Early November, 1998). (We've claimed higher resolutions for some cameras, but are becoming a little more conservative in our reading of these numbers. - The Pro70's resolution is the best we've seen thus far in a camera selling for under $1,500.) The exceptional sharpness comes at the slight cost of a greater propensity toward "aliasing" with high-frequency subject content: This is apparent several places in the test target, perhaps most so in the pattern of very fine vertical slanted lines marked "10", at bottom center. This particular artifact seems to be dependent on high contrast and very regular spacing of the subject detail: Even in the fine engraving of the dollar bill in our macro test shot, evidence of it was hard to find. We've again shot all resolution modes, this time at both the telephoto and wide-angle ends of the zoom. These shots also show the complete lack of geometric distortion in the Pro70's lens. (See table below.)

Telephoto
Large/Fine
(256k)
Large/Normal
(164k)
Small/Fine
(100k)
Small/Normal
(64k)

Wide-Angle
Large/Fine
(272k)
Large/Normal
(176k)
Small/Fine
(104k)
Small/Normal
(64k)

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: The Pro70's optical viewfinder is about typically accurate, showing 85% of the sensor's field of view. With the lens at the telephoto setting (92k), the image is well-centered, but the captured image drifts down as you go toward the wide angle end (104k). The LCD finder shows a dead-on 100% (at least, as close as we could measure) of the final image area, and is well-centered for both wide (96k) and tele (88k) lens settings. Flash uniformity from the 380 speedlight was actually a little off relative to some units we've tested, with the corners ending up slightly dark at the wide-angle end of its coverage. As noted earlier, the lens' performance is exceptional: There is NO geometric distortion to be seen anywhere, regardless of focal length. (We've found this last to be very rare.)  

 

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