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Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot S2 IS 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!

 

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

High resolution and strong detail, with good color. Contrast is a little high, but still good detail in the midtones and shadows.

  • Exposure compensation: +1.0 EV, about average.
  • Contrast/Tone: Just slightly high, with over-bright highlights, but good midtone and shadow detail. (The main shot here captured with the camera's contrast adjustment set to its "low" value.)
  • White Balance: Auto most accurate, though Daylight is very similar. Manual setting has a reddish cast.
  • Color accuracy: Very good, blues are a little dark and purple, reds just a hint over saturated, but better than average overall.
  • Skin tones: Very nice.
  • Resolution/sharpness: Excellent detail, with strong definition.
  • Shadow detail: Very good, low to moderate noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV, see files S2 ISOUTAP0.HTM through S2 ISOUTAP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
An effective contrast adjustment, with little impact on color saturation. I'd like to see the adjustment range extend further in the low-contrast direction (possibly with 5 steps instead of 3), but even as it is, the control works better than most.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Saturation Series:
The saturation control also works well, but it does have some crossover effect on color saturation. Still, a good control with a useful range of adjustment.
Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, again with slightly high contrast.

  • Exposure compensation: +0.7 EV, about average.
  • Exposure/Tone: Slightly high contrast, but still good midtones and shadows.
  • Detail: Even stronger detail and higher resolution than the wider shot above, with excellent definition. (In-camera sharpening seems to coarsen the texture of Marti's hair a little, but the overall level of detail is excellent.)
  • Distortion: Very good, 12x zoom lens avoids distortion close-in like this.


To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV, see files S2 ISFACAM1.HTM through S2 ISFACAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+1.0 EV
Slow-Sync Flash
+0.7 EV

Good exposure with the flash in both the normal and Slow-Sync modes, though a warm color cast with both.

  • Exposure: Very good at +1.0 EV, and the default exposure is only slightly dim. Slow-Sync mode also performs well, with more even coverage at +0.7 EV.
  • Flash balance with room lighting?: A noticeable warm cast with both flash modes, but the flash matches the color of the room lighting quite well, as there are no harsh blue highlights from it.
  • Color: Red skin tones and warm overall color, with dark colors in the bouquet. (Somewhat to be expected, given the lighting conditions and the generally good balance between flash and room lighting.)

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV in the normal flash mode, see files S2 ISINFP0.HTM through S2 ISINFP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files S2 ISINFSP0.HTM through S2 ISINFSP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

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

Good color with both the Manual and Incandescent white balance settings, about average exposure compensation required.

  • Exposure: +1.0 EV, about average.
  • White Balance: Manual setting very good, Auto slightly yellow and warm, Incandescent a little red.
  • Color: Good skin tones, just slightly pink, dark blues in the bouquet, but still quite good considering the difficult light source. (Much better than average, for this light source.)

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV, see files S2 ISINMP0.HTM through S2 ISINMP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
Some blue-channel noise is present in the S2 IS' images, even at ISO 50, but it really isn't visible unless you examine just the blue channel by itself. Subject details soften somewhat and noise levels increase as you move up the ISO scale, but even the ISO 200 shots are usable for 8x10 prints for framed display on walls or tables (where they won't be squinted at up close). At ISO 400, the images become quite soft, and the noise much more pronounced, making 8x10 prints rather rough-looking. At a print size of 5x7 inches though, the ISO 400 images should be acceptable to most users, and at 4x6 inches, noise entirely ceases to be an issue. All in all, a better than average noise performance for a 5-megapixel digital camera.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

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

Good color with all three white balance settings, with high resolution and strong detail.

  • Sharpness/Detail: Excellent detail.
  • Sharpness in Corners: Very good, only a hint of softness in the left corners.
  • Color: Manual white balance best overall, though good results with Auto and Daylight as well.
  • Detail lost to anti-noise processing?: Moderate in the shaded brick patterns.





 

Far-Field Test

High resolution and strong detail, with a good dynamic range.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance, and to present a near-infinite range of detail to the camera. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio.

  • Sharpness/Detail: Excellent detail with great definition.
  • Sharpness in Corners: Slight softening on the right side, but still very good.
  • Color: Very good.
  • Dynamic Range: Good, some detail loss in the highlights, but still very good results.
  • Detail lost to anti-noise processing?: A little, in the bricks and shingles.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
S2 ISFAR2592F
S2 ISFAR2592N
S2 ISFAR2592E
2,048 x 1,536
S2 ISFAR2048
-
1,600 x 1,200
S2 ISFAR1600
-
640 x 480
S2 ISFAR0640
-


ISO Series:
As before, detectable (but not really visible) noise even at ISO 50, better than average high-ISO noise for a five megapixel camera.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:
A good range of sharpening adjustment. High setting is a little coarse, but good for smaller inkjet prints. Low setting takes unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) very well. The normal setting is a good compromise, but does coarsen fine detail slightly.

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Hard


Contrast Series:
As before, a good contrast adjustment, but I'd like to see five steps instead of three, extending further in the low-contrast direction.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Saturation Series:
Likewise, a good saturation control, but one that does have a slight effect on contrast.

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Effects Series:

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



 

Lens Zoom Range

An excellent 12x zoom range.

The S2 IS' focal length range of 36-432mm equivalents is very broad. It corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a very substantial telephoto. (And the S2 IS' image stabilization really helps you make the most of the telephoto end of its range.)

Wide Angle
12x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slightly cool color with the Manual setting, but still good results. High resolution and strong detail.

  • White Balance: Manual setting cool and magenta, but best overall. Auto and Daylight settings very similar, both quite warm.
  • Color: Pinkish skin tones, and purplish tints in the blue robe and background.
  • Sharpness/Detail: Excellent. (Pushing the limits of this poster, though.)





 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash
Super Macro

A large macro area in normal mode, but excellent results with Super Macro mode (albeit with strong blurring in the corners). Flash has a little trouble up close though.

  • Minimum Macro Area: 4.55 x 3.41 inches (116 x 87 millimeters) in normal macro mode, 1.04 x 0.78 inches (26 x 20 millimeters) in Super Macro.
  • Softness in corners?: Some in the normal macro setting, but quite a lot in the Super Macro mode. (Most cameras get fairly soft corners in macro mode.)
  • Flash performance in macro mode?: Available in normal Macro mode only, with pretty good results, but a slight shadow in the bottom of the frame from the lens. Definitely plan on using external lighting for your closest shots, as Super Macro mode disables the flash entirely.




 

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

Good overall exposure and color.

  • White balance: Auto and Manual settings both produced excellent results, Daylight was a little yellowish.
  • Color Accuracy: The S2 IS generally has pretty good color accuracy, and for the most part, color shifts are such as to produce more pleasing images in typical situations. Like most digital cameras I test, strong reds are oversaturated, but less so with the S2 IS than is commonly the case. Like many cameras and particularly most Canon models, cyans are shifted toward pure blues a fair bit, a tactic that produces more appealing sky colors. At the same time, purple-blues are shifted away from purples, to avoid the tendency of many cameras to render blues with tinges of purple in them. Saturation in greens is pumped up slightly, producing nice-looking foliage in landscape shots, and yellows are slightly undersaturated. Overall, color that will be very pleasing to a majority of consumers.
  • Shadow detail and noise: Moderate detail in the briquettes, with low 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 test images from higher-end digital cameras. The S2 IS isn't strictly a "higher end" digital camera, but there's been so much interest in it that I decided to go ahead and make an Imatest analysis page for it anyway.

The images series below duplicate examples of various camera controls we've already covered above. I include them here though, for our more analytically-minded readers, who'd like to see the effect of various camera controls with a well-known target like the MacBeth Color Checker (tm).

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Effects Series:

Color Effects Series
Neutral Color
Vivid Color
Black & White
Sepia
Low Sharpness



 

Low-Light Tests

Good low-light performance, with good color, though noise is high. Autofocus system works to a bit darker than 1/4 foot-candle unassisted, fine for average city night scenes.

  • Exposure limit: 1/16 foot-candle at ISOs 400, 200, and arguably 100. (About 1/16 as bright as typical city street lighting at night.) 1/4 foot-candle at ISO 50, though you could use the image taken at 1/8 foot-candle.
  • Autofocus Limit: A bit below 1/4 foot-candle with the AF-assist light turned off, but to about 1/16 foot-candle with the AF-assist lamp enabled.
  • White Balance: Very good.
  • Noise Levels: On the high side, particularly at lower light levels.
  • Detail loss to anti-noise processing?: Minimal at one foot-candle, increases slightly with the lower light levels.
  • General Notes: The S2 IS is a pretty competent low-light shooter. It can capture good exposures at ISO 200 and 400 down to the 1/16 foot-candle limit of our test, to 1/8 foot-candle at ISO 100, and 1/4 foot-candle at ISO 50. Its autofocus system works down to about 1/4 foot-candle without the AF-assist light, and in complete darkness on nearby objects with the AF-assist light on. For reference, typical city street lighting at night is about one foot-candle, so the S2 IS should do quite well with typical urban night scenes. Image noise is on the high side, particularly at the higher ISO settings, but not far from average when compared with competing 5-megapixel consumer camera models. Flash range is also better than average, usable to 14 feet with the lens at a medium-telephoto setting.

(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 S2ISLL0503.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL0504.JPG
6 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL0505.JPG
13 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL0506.JPG
15 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL0507.JPG
15 sec
f2.7
ISO
100
Click to see S2ISLL1003.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL1004.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL1005.JPG
6 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL1006.JPG
13 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL1007.JPG
15 sec
f2.7
ISO
200
Click to see S2ISLL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL2004.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL2005.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL2006.JPG
6 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL2007.JPG
13 sec
f2.7
ISO
400
Click to see S2ISLL4003.JPG
1/3 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL4004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL4005.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL4006.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see S2ISLL4007.JPG
6 sec
f2.7



 

Flash Range Test

Slightly underexposed at eight feet, but about the same brightness level all the way to 14 feet.

  • Flash range at telephoto lens setting: 14 feet.
8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see S2ISFL08.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see S2ISFL09.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see S2ISFL10.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see S2ISFL11.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see S2ISFL12.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see S2ISFL13.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see S2ISFL14.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good resolution, 1,250 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion at wide angle, virtually no distortion at telephoto. Higher than average chromatic aberration at all focal lengths, some softening in the corners at telephoto.

  • Resolution: 1,200 lines vertically and 1,300 lines horizontally.
  • Artifacts begin at: ~800 lines.
  • Extinction point: ~1,600 lines.

  • Barrel/Pincushion distortion: 0.8 percent barrel at wide angle, 0.04 percent pincushion at telephoto (about one pixel).
  • Chromatic Aberration: Higher than average at all focal lengths.
  • Corner Sharpness: Good at wide angle, some softening at telephoto.



Resolution Series, medium focal length
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
S2 ISRES2592F
S2 ISRES2592N

S2 ISRES2592E

2,048 x 1,536
S2 ISRES2048
-
-
1,600 x 1,200
S2 ISRES1600
-
-
640 x 480
S2 ISRES0640
-
-


Resolution Test, Zoom Series
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine,
Wide Angle)
S2 ISRESW
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine,
Telephoto)
S2 ISREST


Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Hard



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A very accurate EVF and LCD monitor. Slight flash falloff at wide angle.

  • Electronic Optical Viewfinder (EVF) Accuracy: Very close to 100 percent at wide angle and telephoto. EVF is very slightly loose, showing just a bit more than the final image area.
  • LCD Viewfinder Accuracy: Results identical to the EVF, since the LCD is essentially the same view on a larger screen.
  • Flash Uniformity: Slight falloff at wide angle. At full 12x telephoto, flash power is too low for use.

Telephoto, EVF

(Studio lights,
flash doesn't reach this far)

Telephoto, LCD
(Studio lights,
flash doesn't reach this far)



S2IS Review
S2IS Test Images
S2IS Imatest Results
S2IS Specifications
S2IS "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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