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Canon PowerShot S30

A new shape, sleek design, direct support for a Canon inkjet printer, and three megapixels of resolution!

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PowerShot S30 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 10/1/2001

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: (1421 k)

Overall good color, accurate saturation, and great resolution.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes this a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Canon PowerShot S30 performed well. The shot at right has a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened up the midtones just enough while keeping the highlights in check. We shot with the Daylight (1454 k) white balance setting, which produced similar results to the Auto (1495 k) setting (though the Auto setting was a hint warmer). We also shot with the Manual (1452 k) white balance adjustment, which resulted in a very warm image. Skin tones are slightly warm, with strong magenta, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish (this is a difficult blue for many digicams). Detail is crisp and sharp throughout the frame and resolution is high. Details are also sharp in the shadows, with very low noise. Nice job!

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files S30OUTDP0.HTM through S30OUTDP3.HTM on our thumbnail page.

 

Closer Portrait: (1448 k)

Good detail, good color.

Results are similar to the wider shot above, but it looks like I shot it with the lens set a bit toward wide angle, distorting Marti's features some. (Longer focal lengths are better for close-up shots like this one.) Color is similar to the portrait above, with a slight warm cast. More fine detail is visible in the model's face and hair, and details overall are pretty sharp. The shadow areas again show good detail with low noise. The main shot was taken without an exposure compensation adjustment, as anything brighter lost too much highlight detail.

See files S30FACDP0.HTM through S30FACDP2.HTM on our thumbnail page to view the entire exposure series (from zero to +0.7 EV).

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1119 k)
+0.0 EV
+0.7 EV
-0.7 EV exposure, +1.0 EV flash

Good color, but slightly low flash intensity.

The S30's flash illuminated the subject well, though the overall light level was somewhat dim. Despite the low intensity, color looks good and pretty accurate. The bright incandescent room lighting results in a strong orange cast, which also affects the white value of the model's shirt, especially when shooting without any exposure compensation (1059 k). We boosted the camera's exposure by +0.7 EV (1094 k), which brightened the overall image, though the flash intensity remained dim. We next decreased the overall exposure compensation by -0.7 EV, and increased the flash exposure compensation by +1.0 EV, which produced similar results as the +0.7 EV shot, but the increased flash power brightened the exposure slightly while preserving overall color. We chose this for our main shot (XXX k).

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (1160 k)

Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance
Slight color casts in incandescent and manual white balance modes, but overall very good results.

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 S30's white balance system overcame the challenge. Though the Auto (1102 k) white balance setting produced a very warm image with a sepia tint, both the Incandescent (1134 k) and Manual (1124 k) settings produced more accurate results. We chose the Incandescent setting for our main series, because the warmer color balance looked more natural than the slightly greenish cast of the Manual setting. For our main shot, we boosted the exposure compensation to +1.0 EV, which verged on blowing out the highlight areas. Overall color is good, though the slight warm cast intensifies the purplish tint in the blue flowers, and increases the magenta cast in the skin tones.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files S30INTP0.HTM through S30INTP4.HTM on our thumbnail page. Following is an ISO series.

ISO Series
ISO 50
1/ 8
F/ 3.2
(1147 k)
ISO 100
1/ 15
F/ 3.2
(1257 k)
ISO 200
1/ 30
F/ 3.2
(1415 k)
ISO 400
1/ 60
F/ 3.2
(1628 k)
ISO 800
1/ 100
F/ 3.2
(1887 k)


 

House Shot: (2093 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color, though details are a bit soft.

We chose the Manual (2093 k) white balance setting for our main selection, despite its slightly cool color cast. The Auto (1992 k) setting produced slightly warm results, and the Daylight (2066 k) setting resulted in a very warm image. Despite the slight cool cast, the white values in the Manual setting are more accurate, and overall color looks good. Resolution is moderately high, with good detail in the tree limbs above the roof and in the house front. The fine foliage in front of the house is slightly soft, and detail is defined by stronger contrast. Corner softness is evident in all four corners, and extends a ways into the image area, particularly in the lower righthand corner.

 
 

Far-Field Test (2330 k)

Pretty good detail, good color, has a hard time with the strong highlights.

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 our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The S30 captures great detail throughout the frame, with good definition in the tree limbs above the house and in the house front details. The fine foliage details in front of the house are a little soft, but still fairly well-defined. The bright sunlight causes the S30 to lose all but the strongest details in the white bay window area, showing a slightly limited dynamic range and tendency toward high contrast. The shadow area above the front door fares slightly better, as the brick pattern and porch light details are almost visible. Following is our standard resolution series, as well as ISO, sharpness, contrast, and saturation series.

Resolution Series
Large / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(2330 k)
Large / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(1606 k)
Large / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(817 k)
Medium / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1461 k)
Medium / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(1002 k)
Medium / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(511 k)
Small / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(685 k)
Small / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(470 k)
Small / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(253 k)
Tiny / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(274 k)
Tiny / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(186 k)
Tiny / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(102 k)

ISO Series
ISO 50
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(2362 k)
ISO 100
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(2357 k)
ISO 200
1/ 1000
F/ 8
(2312 k)
ISO 400
1/ 1500
F/ 8
(2366 k)
ISO 800
1/ 1500
F/ 8
(2346 k)

Contrast Series
Low
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(2373 k)
Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(2361 k)
High
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2435 k)

Saturation Series
Low
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2308 k)
Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(2352 k)
High
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2405 k)

Sharpness Series
Low
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2084 k)
Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2376 k)
High
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2478 k)


 
 

Lens Zoom Range

3x zoom lens, reasonable digital zoom.

We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, at full 3x telephoto, and at full telephoto with the 2x digital telephoto enabled. The S30's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2242 k)
3x Telephoto
1/ 640
F/ 4.9
(1548 k)
2x Digital Telephoto
1/ 800
F/ 4.9
(725 k)


 
 

Musicians Poster (1938 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance
Warm auto/daylight color casts in response to this very blue image, manual WB is good though.

For this test, we shot with the Auto (1951 k), Daylight (1942 k), and Manual (1938 k) white balance settings, none of which produced exactly accurate results. Both the Auto and Daylight settings resulted in very warm images, possibly in response to the large amount of blue in the composition (the background has a marked bluish cast). The Manual setting, on the other hand, produced a cooler cast with rather pale skin tones. We chose Manual for our main image because the overall color balance is closer to accurate. The Oriental model's blue robe looks about right here, though the darker parts of the robe have a slight purple tint. (This is a tough blue for many digicams to get right.) Resolution is high, with good detail visible throughout the frame, particularly noticeable in the embroidery of the blue robe.

 

Macro Shot (1729 k)

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash
Less than average macro coverage, and some barrel distortion when shooting this close. Flash is ineffective for Macro shots.

The S30 did less well than average in the macro category, capturing a slightly large minimum area of 4.6 x 3.5 inches (117 x 88 millimeters). Resolution is high, however, with good detail throughout the frame. Overall color balance was very warm with the Auto white balance setting. Corner softness is again visible in all four corners from the wide angle lens setting, as well as a slight barrel distortion. The S30's flash (1255 k) had a difficult time throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the frame.

"Davebox" Test Target (1057 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance
Really great color with the Manual white balance.

We shot samples of this target using the Auto (1052 k), Daylight (1053 k), and Manual (1057 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting as the most accurate. Both Auto and Daylight resulted in very warm images. Exposure looks good, with a strong tonal distribution on the Q60 chart. The large color blocks have good saturation and nearly accurate color. Detail is good in the shadow area of the briquettes, with low noise. Overall, a good job. Following are ISO, contrast, and saturation series.

ISO Series
ISO 50
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1049 k)
ISO 100
1/ 500
F/ 3.2
(1157 k)
ISO 200
1/ 1000
F/ 3.2
(1312 k)
ISO 400
1/ 1000
F/ 4.5
(1588 k)
ISO 800
1/ 1000
F/ 6.3
(1907 k)

Contrast Series
Low
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1040 k)
Normal
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1057 k)
High
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1064 k)

Saturation Series
Low
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1029 k)
Normal
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1053 k)
High
1/ 250
F/ 3.2
(1071 k)


 

Low-Light Tests

Very good results even at the lowest light level we test at. - A great low-light performer.

The S30 offers full manual exposure control, which gives the camera excellent low-light shooting capabilities. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux), although performance at its lowest ISO settings suffered slightly from the 15 second maximum shutter time. Color remained very accurate throughout our test, even at this lowest light level. (This is pretty unusual in our experience, cameras' white balance systems usually seem to have problems with very low light levels.) Images have low noise levels as well, and even the ISO 800 image shows just a moderate amount of noise. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain 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. For reference, a typical city night scene under streetlights corresponds to a light level of about 1 foot-candle, the brightest light level we tested the camera at. The S30 would be a great camera to use for after-dark shooting.

1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
50
Click to see S30LL0503.JPG
1,126.1 KB
2.5 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL0504.JPG
1,170.6 KB
6 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL0505.JPG
1,160.6 KB
15 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL0506.JPG
992.1 KB
15 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL0507.JPG
895.8 KB
15 secs
F3.5
ISO
100
Click to see S30LL1003.JPG
1,377.2 KB
1 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL1004.JPG
1,300.4 KB
3.2 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL1005.JPG
1,365.0 KB
10 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL1006.JPG
1,338.1 KB
15 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL1007.JPG
1,233.6 KB
15 secs
F3.5
ISO
200
Click to see S30LL2003.JPG
1,521.3 KB
1/2 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL2004.JPG
1,485.3 KB
1.3 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL2005.JPG
1,586.5 KB
5 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL2006.JPG
1,646.7 KB
10 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL2007.JPG
1,658.2 KB
15 secs
F3.5
ISO
400
Click to see S30LL4003.JPG
1,769.5 KB
1/4 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL4004.JPG
1,935.5 KB
1/ 2 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL4005.JPG
1,856.1 KB
2 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL4006.JPG
1,941.8 KB
5 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL4007.JPG
1,966.0 KB
8 secs
F3.5
ISO
800
Click to see S30LL8003.JPG
2,093.6 KB
1/8 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL8004.JPG
2,176.3 KB
1/ 3 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL8005.JPG
2,429.3 KB
1 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL8006.JPG
2,265.5 KB
3.2 secs
F3.5
Click to see S30LL8007.JPG
2,267.2 KB
5 secs
F3.5


 

Flash Range Test

Good flash intensity to about nine feet.

In our testing, the S30's flash was brightest to about nine feet from the target. From the 10-foot distance on, intensity decreased dramatically with each foot, becoming very dim at the 14-foot distance. 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 S30FL08.JPG
1,040.2 KB
Click to see S30FL09.JPG
928.5 KB
Click to see S30FL10.JPG
841.8 KB
Click to see S30FL11.JPG
759.1 KB
Click to see S30FL12.JPG
663.7 KB
Click to see S30FL13.JPG
642.5 KB
Click to see S30FL14.JPG
618.0 KB


 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1201 k)

Strong detail to 900-1000 lines/picture height, albeit with a lot of artifacts.

The S30 turned in about an average 3 megapixel performance on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 900-1,000 lines, although there were very strong artifacts in the horizontal direction starting at 600 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,300 lines.

Optical distortion on the S30 is a bit lower than average at the wide-angle setting, where we measured an 0.48 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we only measured about half a pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about five or six pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, but it is limited to the furthest corners and edges of the frame, and hence less objectionable than that on some cameras, which extends much further into the picture. (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 most prominent optical problem we saw was some softness in the extreme corners of the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Large / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1201 k)
Large / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(728 k)
Large / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(341 k)
Medium / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(747 k)
Medium / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(457 k)
Medium / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(228 k)
Small / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(353 k)
Small / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(225 k)
Small / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(124 k)
Tiny / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(165 k)
Tiny / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(110 k)

Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large / Fine
1/ 125
F/ 4.9
(1174 k)


 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Great accuracy in the LCD monitor, though the optical viewfinder is tight.

The S30's optical viewfinder was rather tight, showing approximately 81 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 83 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 98 percent of the image area at wide angle, and about 99 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S30's LCD monitor did an excellent job here. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with a hot spot in the center of the target, and falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At the telephoto setting, flash distribution is very even but dim. 


Wide Angle (Optical)
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(985 k)
Telephoto (Optical)
1/ 60
F/ 4.9
(904 k)

Wide Angle (LCD)
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(1041 k)
Telephoto (LCD)
1/ 60
F/ 4.9
(930 k)

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<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

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