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Test Shots for the
Canon PowerShot S200
Digital Cameras



We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our 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:

Very accurate exposure with good resolution and 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. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the PowerShot S200 performed very well. The shot at right was taken without any exposure adjustment, since the default exposure produced good midtones but still held highlight detail pretty well. This is an unusually accurate exposure as the high overall brightness of this shot tricks most cameras into underexposing significantly. I chose the Daylight white balance setting for the main shot, though the Auto setting produced good color as well. (The Manual white balance resulted in a slightly greenish cast.) Skin tones look about right, though just a tad magenta, and Marti's blue flowers and have only very slight purple tints (this is a very difficult blue for many digicams, but the S200 reproduces it almost perfectly). Resolution is also quite good (for a two megapixel camera), with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Details are slightly soft, but have good definition overall. Noise is moderate in the shadow areas.

To see the full exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files S20OUTDP0.HTM through S20OUTDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

  Closer Portrait:

Good results, though with slight distortion.

Results are similar to the shot above, though exposure is just a little bright, with some highlight detail lost on the shirt collar. The shot at right once again is the default exposure setting, without any adjustment. The S200's 2x lens does a relatively good job of avoiding distortion in Marti's features, but the relatively short maximum telephoto focal length still tends to emphasize her nose somewhat. Resolution is even higher in this close-up shot, with excellent detail in Marti's face and hair. The shadow areas also have strong detail, with moderately low noise.

To see the full exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files S20FACDP0.HTM through S20FACDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

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

Some color cast from the room lighting.

The S200's flash illuminates the subject fairly well, but underexposed if I shot without any exposure compensation at the default setting. Boosting the exposure compensation to +0.7 EV brightens the shot, though the background was still a bit dark. The relatively household incandescent lighting in the room produced a slight orange color cast, which decreases only a little with the boosted exposure. Shooting with the Slow Sync flash mode combines the flash with a longer shutter time, which lets more ambient light into the image and brightens the shot. Again, I found the best results with a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment, but the orange cast became much stronger with the longer exposure.

To see the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files S20INFP0.HTM through S20INFP3.HTM for the Normal flash setting, and files S20INFSP0.HTM through S20INFSP3.HTM for Slow Sync mode on the thumbnail index page.

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

Excellent color with Incandescent and Manual white balance, but a tough time in Auto.

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, and the S200's Auto white balance had some trouble here, producing a warm, orangish image. By contrast though, the Incandescent and Manual settings produced very good color. I chose the Manual setting for the main image, as the Incandescent setting resulted in a slightly cool cast. (Both settings gave very good results, it probably comes down to a matter of personal preference which you'd prefer.) Overall color is about right, with accurate skin tones and good saturation. The blue flowers appear purplish at the petal edges, a common problem on this shot, given the tough room lighting, but color accuracy is surprisingly good in the remaining portion of the petals. The main image has a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment. (Click here for an example at the default exposure setting.) Following is an ISO series.

ISO Series
The S200 offers a range of ISO (light sensitivity) settings, ranging from the default ISO 50 up to a rating of 400. The Results at ISO 50 and 100 are pretty good, but a fair bit of noise is apparent at ISO 200, and noise is really unacceptable (IMHO) at ISO 400. These results are fairly typical of cameras in this price/performance range.

ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

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

Good overall resolution and color.

Both the Auto and Manual white balance settings produced nearly accurate results. The Auto setting was just a touch warm, so I chose the Manual setting for the main image. (Daylight white balance produced a very warm image.) Resolution is pretty good for a two megapixel camera, with a nice level of detail in the tree limbs and foliage. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, but overall definition is good, and there's no undue softening of the image in the corners. Overall, a nice performance.

 

 
 

 

Far-Field Test

Good resolution and detail, with good dynamic range, and no softness in the corners.

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. The S200 captures a lot of detail throughout the frame, with good definition in the fine foliage in front of the house and in the tree limbs above it. Details are slightly soft throughout the image, but the corners aren't much softer than the center, a sign of a good lens. The S200 produced accurate color here, with good saturation, particularly in the green values. The S200 picks up the stronger details in the bright, white bay window area, but there is a little lens flare right around the brightest white parts. The shadow area above the front door shows good detail as well, with most of the brick pattern visible. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series, followed by an ISO series.

Resolution Series
Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Large / Economy
Medium / Fine
Medium / Normal
Medium / Economy
Small / Fine
Small / Normal
Small / Economy

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

 
  Lens Zoom Range

A slightly limited (2x) zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show each camera's field of view, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (2x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The S200's lens is equivalent to a 35-70mm zoom on a 35mm camera, a bit shorter on the telephoto end than most full-sized zoom-equipped models. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

 

Wide Angle
2x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto

 

 
 

 

Musicians Poster

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good resolution and detail, with pretty accurate color.

I chose the Auto white balance setting for this shot, though the Manual and Daylight settings also produced nearly accurate results. Manual white balance resulted in a cool shot with pale skin tones, and the Daylight setting was just a little too warm. (The large amount of blue in the composition often tricks digicams, but the S200 did quite well here.) Overall color looks good, and the blue robe is about right with only faint purplish tints in the deep shadows. Resolution is good, with a lot of fine detail visible in the embroidery of the blue robe, as well as in the beaded necklaces and the flower garland.

 

 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash


Good macro coverage, with good resolution and color, although the flash has a little trouble up close.

The S200 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 4.06 x 3.04 inches (103 x 77 millimeters). Resolution is good, with great detail in the coins, brooch, and dollar bill. Details are slightly soft, with increased softness in the corners. Overall color looks good as well. The camera's flash had some trouble throttling down for the macro area, creating a hot spot in the center of the frame and strong falloff in the bottom corners.

 

"Davebox" Test Target

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color, saturation, and exposure, though image noise is high (incorrect ISO setting? - I'll try to reshoot).

Both the Manual and Auto white balance settings produced nearly identical results, so I chose the Manual setting for the main image. Daylight white balance also produced good color, but with a slight warm cast. The large color blocks look accurate, with good saturation. Exposure is just a hint bright, though the S200 distinguishes the subtle tonal distributions of the Q60 chart well. Detail is limited in the charcoal briquettes, and noise is surprisingly high throughout the frame. (I strongly suspect I inadvertently left the ISO setting on 200 or 400 for this shot. - My EXIF readers don't interpret the ISO setting info from the S200's file headers properly, but the shutter speed is suspiciously high on these shots also.)

 

 

 

Low-Light Tests

Great exposure and color at all light levels, an excellent job.

The S200's optional Long Shutter exposure mode offers longer exposure times, ranging from one to 15 seconds, giving it excellent low-light shooting capabilities. (And it can focus in the dark too, thanks to its autofocus-assist illuminator LED.) In my tests, the S200 captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.067 lux) at all four ISO settings, with dim but usable results even at ISO 50. Color was very good at all light levels as well. The S200 automatically employs noise reduction at exposure times longer than one second, keeping noise levels low at the lower ISO settings. As always though, noise climbs steadily as the ISO level is increased, and is quite high at ISO 400. What Canon's noise reduction system doesdo though, is almost totally eliminate the "hot pixels" we used to see all the time on long digicam exposures. The table below shows the best exposure obtained for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our 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 S20LL0503.JPG
2.5 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL0504.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL0505.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL0506.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL0507.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO
100
Click to see S20LL1003.JPG
1.3 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL1004.JPG
3.2 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL1005.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL1006.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL1007.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO
200
Click to see S20LL2003.JPG
1/ 3 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL2004.JPG
2 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL2005.JPG
5 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL2006.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL2007.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO
400
Click to see S20LL4003.JPG
1/5 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL4004.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL4005.JPG
2.5 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL4006.JPG
4 secs
F2.8
Click to see S20LL4007.JPG
8 secs
F2.8

 

 

Flash Range Test

Bright to 8 feet, reasonably effective all the way to 14 feet.

The S200's flash was brightest at the 8 foot distance, dimming with each foot of additional distance to the target. It remained dim but effective all the way to 14 feet from the test target though. (That's perhaps a bit of a stretch, I'd really rate it only to about 8 feet for reliable use.) A slightly warm cast crept into the shots as the distance increased also. Below is our 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 S20FL08.JPG
1/60 secs
F4
Click to see S20FL09.JPG
1/60 secs
F4
Click to see S20FL10.JPG
1/60 secs
F4
Click to see S20FL11.JPG
1/60 secs
F4
Click to see S20FL12.JPG
1/60 secs
F4
Click to see S20FL13.JPG
1/60 secs
F4
Click to see S20FL14.JPG
1/60 secs
F4

 

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good resolution and detail.

The S200 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its 2.1-megapixel class. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. Detail remained strong out to about 750 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,000 lines.

Optical distortion on the S200 is slightly lower than average (although still too high IMHO) at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.59 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto setting fared much better, showing just one pixel of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about two or three lightly-colored pixels 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.) The only other distortion I noticed were slightly soft corners in a few shots, though it didn't extend too far into the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Large / Economy
Medium / Fine
Medium / Normal
Medium / Economy
Small / Fine
Small / Normal
Small / Economy

 

 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

An average (85% coverage) optical viewfinder, but almost 100 percent accuracy on the LCD monitor.

The S200's optical viewfinder was a little tight, showing a frame accuracy of approximately 85 percent at wide-angle and approximately 84 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor was more accurate, almost a little "loose," as the standard measurement lines are outside of the final frame at the wide-angle lens setting. However, accuracy was about 99.5 percent at telephoto. Since I prefer to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S200 did very well here. Flash distribution at wide angle is uneven, with strong falloff at the corners of the frame. At telephoto, the flash is more even, but slight falloff is visible in the corners.

 


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD

 


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