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Canon PowerShot S40

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PowerShot S40 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: (1645 k)

Good color & tonal range, suprisingly, no need for exposure compensation...

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it 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 PowerShot S40 handled the challenge well. The shot at right was taken without an exposure compensation adjustment, as the camera's automatic exposure system produced reasonably bright midtones on its own. While the midtones still appear a little dim, increasing the exposure compensation loses too much highlight detail. We shot with the Auto (1671 k), Daylight (1972 k), and Manual (1693 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot. The Daylight setting resulted in a pinkish cast, and the Manual setting produced a very warm image. Overall color looks very good in our main shot, though skin tones are slightly magenta. The blue flowers have only faint purple tints at the edges of the petals (these blues are often difficult for digicams to reproduce correctly, and the S40 did a good job). Resolution is high, but it looks like the camera focused on the flowers and used a rather large aperture, with the result that details in the model's face and hair are rather soft.

To see the results of a range of exposure settings, see files S40OUTAM1.HTM through S40OUTAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page. These show an exposure range from -0.3 to +0.7 EV.

 

 

Closer Portrait: (1495 k)

Good color & detail, good shadow detail...

Results in this close-up shot are similar to the shot above, with the S40's 3x zoom lens preventing any distortion of the model's features (an important consideration in close-up shots). Resolution is higher in this shot, with more fine detail visible in the model's face and hair. The shadows show good detail as well. Skin tones still have a slight magenta tint, but remaining color looks about right (though the house siding is a touch warm). Our main shot was taken without an exposure adjustment, to preserve detail in the midtones.

As with our Outdoor Portrait, an exposure series for this shot can be seen on our thumbnail index page. Files are S40FACP0.HTM through S40FACP2.HTM, which represent exposures ranging from +0.0 to +0.7 EV.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1676 k)

+0.0 EV
+1.0 EV
+1.3 EV

Indoor flash pictures pick up too much yellow from room lighting...

The S40's built-in flash illuminated the subject with a low intensity when we shot without any exposure compensation (1635 k). Adjusting the exposure compensation to +1.3 EV (1661 k) brightened the shot a little too much, creating very stark, almost blown-out highlights in the white shirt. We obtained the best exposure with a +1.0 EV (1676 k) adjustment. The background incandescent lighting produced a strong orange cast in all of our images, which didn't dissipate much with the brighter exposures. The warm cast gives the blue flowers a purple tint, and skin tones appear very orange. (The standard approach pros use in situations like this is to "gel" the flash with a small patch of orange lighting gel, then shoot using incandescent white balance...)

 

 

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (1673 k)

Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Excellent color under incandescent lighting, using the incandescent white balance setting!

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 S40's white balance system produced good results. The Auto (1649 k) white balance setting resulted in a very warm cast, while the Manual (1723 k) setting produced a greenish image. We chose the Incandescent (1683 k) setting for our main shot, because it produced the most natural overall color balance (though with a very slight magenta tint). Overall, excellent color handling under this very difficult light source! We chose a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment for our main shot. Color looks very good, with only faint purple tints in the blue flowers.

To view the entire exposure series, see files S40INTP0.HTM through S40INTP4.HTM on our thumbnail index page. Exposures range from zero to +1.3 EV.

Following is an ISO series, showing the same exposure at a variety of ISO equivalents from 50 to 400. Noise obviously increases with increasing ISO values, is objectionable (to our eyes) at ISO 400, but not bad at all at ISO 200.

ISO Series:
ISO 50
1/8
F/3.2
(1479 k)
ISO 100
1/15
F/3.2
(1690 k)
ISO 200
1/30
F/3.2
(1955 k)
ISO 400
1/60
F/3.2
(2301 k)

 

 

House Shot: (2442 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Very good detail, although slightly soft (needs a tad more in-camera sharpening), noticeable corner softness

We chose the Auto (2442 k) white balance setting for our main selection, though the Daylight (2478 k) and Manual (2448 k) setting produced good results as well. Resolution is fairly high, though details are soft throughout the frame, particularly the fine foliage details in the trees and shrubbery. Corner details are even softer than the rest of the frame, from the wide angle lens setting. Color is accurate, with good saturation.

 

 
 

 

Far-Field Test (2534 k)

Very nice color & detail, slighlty soft, noticeable corner softness...

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 S40 captured a lot of fine detail throughout the frame, with strong details in the fine foliage of the trees and shrubbery. Details are a little soft, but definition is still very good. The corners of the image are again softer than the rest of the frame, as we found with the House poster. We also measure a camera's dynamic range here, and noticed that the S40 had a very hard time capturing any detail in the sunny bay window. The bright, white paint glows with a slight "halo" from lens flare, and only a faint trace of trim detail is visible. The shadow area under the porch fares only a little better, with the brick pattern and porch light details just visible. Following is an exposure series, as well as ISO, contrast, sharpness, and saturation series.

Exposure Series:
Large / RAW
Note: RAW file format, load in imaging software
(3,222 k)
Large / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2534 k)
Large / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1700 k)
Large / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(810 k)

Medium / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1297 k)
Medium / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(872 k)
Medium / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(443 k)

Small / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(570 k)
Small / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(395 k)
Small / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(198 k)

Tiny / Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(256 k)
Tiny / Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(174 k)
Tiny / Economy
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(92 k)

Similar to the indoor shot, noise is quite noticeable at ISO 400, not bad at 200.

ISO Series:
ISO 50
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2530 k)
ISO 100
1/ 1000
F/ 5
(2711 k)
ISO 200
1/ 1000
F/ 7.1
(2763 k)
ISO 400
1/ 1500
F/ 8
(2874 k)

Reducing the S40's contrast on this shot increases detail in the shadows somewhat, but does nothing to improve the highlight detail.

Contrast Series:
Low

1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1384 k)
Normal

1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1318 k)
High

1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1402 k)

The S40's default sharpening is a bit understated for our tastes. While we generally prefer less sharpening in a camera, we liked the shots taken with the sharpening boosted better than those without.

Sharpness Series:
Low
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2206 k)
Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2647 k)
High
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2567 k)

The saturation adjustment on the S40 provides a useful range of control, although we'd like to see more and finer steps.

Saturation Series:
Low

1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2416 k)
Normal

1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2399 k)
High

1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(2516 k)

 

 
  Lens Zoom Range

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, the lens at full 3x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with digital zoom enabled. The S40's lens covers a range equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

 

Wide Angle
1/ 1000
F/ 3.2
(2656 k)
3x Telephoto
1/ 640
F/ 4.9
(1915 k)
Digital Zoom
1/ 800
F/ 4.9
(812 k)

 

 
 

 

Musicians Poster (2150 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color and detail...

For this test, we shot with the Auto (2207 k), Daylight (2150 k), and Manual (2196 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting as the most accurate overall. The Auto setting resulted in a warm image, while the Manual setting produced a greenish color cast. Though the Daylight setting is a little warm overall, we felt that the skin tones looked best here. Despite the warm cast, color is good. The Oriental model's blue robe shows a hint of purple, which is a common problem among digicams with this shot. Resolution is high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe, though details are slightly soft (particularly in the corners).

 

 

Macro Shot (2246 k)

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Slightly large minimum macro area...

The S40 performed a bit below average in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 4.29 x 3.22 inches (108.98 x 81.74 millimeters). Resolution is high, with well-defined detail in the coins, brooch, and dollar bill. Color looks reasonably good, though the gray background has a magenta cast. We also noticed a fair amount of corner softness and some barrel distortion from the wide angle lens setting. The S40's flash (1136 k) also couldn't throttle down enough for the macro area, and overexposed the entire frame and lost most detail.

 

 

"Davebox" Test Target (1278 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Very nice color overall, slight weakness in yellows, the rest is excellent...

We shot samples of this target using the Auto (1278 k), Daylight (1299 k), and Manual (1317 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot. The Daylight setting produced nearly accurate results, though with a slight warm cast, while the Manual setting produced a very warm image, with a greenish tint. Exposure is good, as the Q60 target and vertical gray scales show great tonal distribution. Color is accurate in the large color blocks, with good saturation. The S40 also captured strong detail in the highlight and shadow areas, with very low noise in the shadows. Following are ISO, contrast, and saturation series.

ISO Series:
ISO 50
1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1278 k)
ISO 100
1/ 640
F/ 2.8
(1480 k)
ISO 200
1/ 1000
F/ 3.2
(1882 k)
ISO 400
1/ 1000
F/ 4.5
(2340 k)

Contrast Series:
Low

1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1278 k)
Normal

1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1283 k)
High

1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1258 k)

Saturation Series:
Low

1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1251 k)
Normal

1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1270 k)
High

1/ 320
F/ 2.8
(1292 k)

 

 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low light results, very effective automatic noise reduction.

The S40 features full manual exposure control, which allows the camera to capture bright images at very low light levels. In our own testing, the S40 captured bright, usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) at the 100, 200, and 400 ISO settings. At ISO 50, the target is still quite visible at 1/16 foot-candle, but the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level image is brighter and clearer. The S40's Auto white balance setting produced great color, even at the 1/16 foot-candle light level. The S40 employs an automatic noise reduction system for exposures longer than one second, which did an excellent job of controlling image noise, even at ISO 400. Though noise is visible at 400 ISO, the grain pattern is small and tight. 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.


1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
50
Click to see S40LL0503.JPG
1,428.4 KB
3.2
F3.2
Click to see S40LL0504.JPG
1,384.4 KB
6
F3.2
Click to see S40LL0505.JPG
1,335.1 KB
15
F3.2
Click to see S40LL0506.JPG
1,308.3 KB
15
F3.2
Click to see S40LL0507.JPG
1,166.6 KB
15
F3.2
ISO
100
Click to see S40LL1003.JPG
1,712.3 KB
1.6
F3.2
Click to see S40LL1004.JPG
1,698.8 KB
3.2
F3.2
Click to see S40LL1005.JPG
1,728.0 KB
8
F3.2
Click to see S40LL1006.JPG
1,722.6 KB
10
F3.2
Click to see S40LL1007.JPG
1,736.0 KB
15
F3.2
ISO
200
Click to see S40LL2003.JPG
2,164.2 KB
1/ 1
F3.2
Click to see S40LL2004.JPG
2,025.3 KB
1.6
F3.2
Click to see S40LL2005.JPG
2,121.8 KB
4
F3.2
Click to see S40LL2006.JPG
2,155.2 KB
6
F3.2
Click to see S40LL2007.JPG
2,207.1 KB
13
F3.2
ISO
400
Click to see S40LL4003.JPG
2,501.0 KB
1/ 3
F3.2
Click to see S40LL4004.JPG
2,710.5 KB
1
F3.2
Click to see S40LL4005.JPG
2,634.5 KB
2
F3.2
Click to see S40LL4006.JPG
2,630.6 KB
3.2
F3.2
Click to see S40LL4007.JPG
2,619.0 KB
5
F3.2

 

 

Flash Range Test

Flash range of roughly 10 feet

In our testing, the S40's flash maintained strong intensity as far as 10 feet from the target. Flash power decreased incrementally with each additional foot of distance, though the flash was still reasonably effective at 14 feet. (Overall, we'd rate it as having an effective range of about 12 feet, not a bad agreement with Canon's own numbers.) Below is our complete 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 S40FL08.JPG
1,230.0 KB
1/60
F4.9
Click to see S40FL09.JPG
1,163.5 KB
1/60
F4.9
Click to see S40FL10.JPG
1,067.1 KB
1/60
F4.9
Click to see S40FL11.JPG
965.7 KB
1/60
F4.9
Click to see S40FL12.JPG
851.2 KB
1/60
F4.9
Click to see S40FL13.JPG
793.1 KB
1/60
F4.9
Click to see S40FL14.JPG
747.9 KB
1/60
F4.9

 

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1538 k)

"Strong Detail" to 1200 lines, low distortion and chromatic aberration, soft corners due to coma though.

The S40 did a great job on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing (hints of) artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions, but found "strong detail" out to at least 1,200 lines horizontally and 1100 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines.

Optical distortion on the S40 was slightly lower than average at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.68 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only two pixels of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was moderately low, showing only about three or four pixels of faint 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.) We did notice quite a bit of "coma" in the corners of the target image though, explaining the softness we observed in the corners of many of our other tests. Overall, we liked the low level of chromatic aberration and geometric distortion, but would really have liked to see less coma in the corners.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle:
Large / RAW
Note: RAW file format, load in imaging software
(3,222 k)
Large / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1538 k)
Large / Normal
1/ 500
F/ 2.8
(897 k)
Large / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(386 k)

Medium / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(791 k)
Medium / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(455k)
Medium / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(213 k)

Small / Fine
1/ 500
F/ 2.8
(330 k)
Small / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(205 k)
Small / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(109 k)

Tiny / Fine
1/ 500
F/ 2.8
(155 k)
Tiny / Normal
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(102 k)
Tiny / Economy
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(58 k)

Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large / Fine
1/ 160
F/ 4.9
(1475 k)

Sharpness Series
Low
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1291 k)
Normal
1/ 500
F/ 2.8
(1532 k)
High
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1630 k)

 

 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Very tight optical viewfinder, very accurate LCD. Somewhat uneven flash coverage at wide angle.

The S40's optical viewfinder was very tight, showing approximately 77 percent frame coverage at wide angle, and approximately 78 percent accuracy at telephoto. Our evaluation unit may have had a shifted CCD sensor, as images framed with the optical viewfinder were slanted toward the lower right corner. The LCD monitor produced much better results, showing about 97 percent at wide angle, and about 98 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S40 did an excellent job here. Flash distribution is uneven at wide-angle, with a bright spot in the center of the frame and falloff in the corners and edges. At the telephoto lens setting, flash coverage is more even, though slightly dim.

 


Wide Angle (Optical)
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(1411 k)

Telephoto (Optical)
1/ 60
F/ 4.9
(1366 k)

Wide Angle (LCD)
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(1441 k)

Telephoto (LCD)
1/ 60
F/ 4.9
(1349 k)

 

 

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

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