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Canon PowerShot S45

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S45 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 02/22/2003

Untitled Document

Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot S45 Test Images

 

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

Excellent job, with great resolution, detail, 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, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the PowerShot S45 performed well.

The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which produced reasonably bright midtones without losing too much highlight detail. This is fairly unusual in my experience, as the digicams I test almost always require quite a bit of positive exposure compensation for this shot - The S45's exposure system was much more accurate than most here. I chose the Daylight white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Auto setting produced similar results. The Manual setting resulted in a warm cast.

Skin tones look good (although areas on Marti's nose and chin look a little too pink), and the blue flowers in the bouquet are almost exactly right. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right, but the S45 did a very good job with it. For reference, the flowers are a pretty pure light navy blue, with just a slight purplish tint.) The strong red flowers in the bouquet are very bright and a little oversaturated. Despite the too-intense reds, I'd rate overall color as excellent.

Resolution is excellent too, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Details are also very sharp, and image noise in the shadows is low. An excellent job all around.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files S45OUTDP0.HTM through S45OUTDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Saturation Series:
The S45 lets you vary the color saturation of its images, offering settings of low, normal, and high. The shots below show the result of these settings with this test subject.  I'd say that this is about the right range of variation that you'd like to have in a saturation adjustment, but I'd really like to see more steps covering the range in smaller increments. Still, kudos to Canon for providing a useful range of saturation control.

Saturation Series
Low Normal High



Contrast Series:
The S45 also lets you adjust the contrast of its images, again with options of low, normal, and high. The shots below show the impact of these adjustments on the outdoor shots of Marti. Here again, the range is a useful one, but I'd again like to see finer adjustment steps. In the case of the contrast adjustment, I'd also like to see a bit broader range, particularly in the "low" direction. That said, the contrast adjustment option on the S45 does a better than average job of adjusting contrast without also affecting color saturation. Very nice.

Contrast Series
Low Normal High


 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail.

Overall results here are similar to the wider shot above, and the S45's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Detail is again excellent, with sharp details in Marti's face and hair. (Almost an embarrassing amount of detail, I won't show this to Marti 1:1 on-screen. ;-) The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which ended up with slightly blown-out highlights, but I didn't shoot an example with any negative exposure compensation. Shadow detail is fairly strong, with low noise. Most cameras need positive compensation on these shots, so I commonly just start at 0EV of adjustment and work upward from there. The S45's more accurate exposure system gets the exposure almost perfect right out of the box though. I suspect that any negative adjustment here would result in too-dark midtones and shadows, but I'm wishing that I'd shot an example of that to look at...

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.3 EV, see files S45FACAP0.HTM through S45FACAP1.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
(+0.7 EV)
Slow Sync Flash
(+2.0 EV)

Pretty good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash in Normal mode.

The S45's built-in flash does a reasonably good job illuminating the subject, although its intensity is a little low at the default exposure setting. The background incandescent lighting results in a faint orange cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features slightly, but overall color is quite good. (The red flowers are once again a bit oversaturated though.) I preferred the +0.7 EV flash exposure compensation setting, as it brightened the image a bit and reduced the cast from the background lighting. (Anything brighter blew the highlights on Marti's shirt.) I also shot with the camera's Slow Sync flash mode, and this time found the best results with a +2.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment. (Click here to view the default exposure setting in the Slow Sync mode.) The longer shutter time of Slow Sync mode lets in a lot more of the room lighting, resulting in a much stronger orange cast, which decreases slightly with the brighter exposures.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV in the Normal flash mode, see files S45INFP0.HTM through S45INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

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

Excellent color with the Incandescent white balance option, but good results with Manual also. Good exposure as well.

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. While the S45's Incandescent white balance produced the best color, the Manual option produced a nice image as well, though with a slight warm cast. (Auto really had trouble though.) Marti's skin tone is pretty good here, though a little red, but the blue flowers came out dark and purplish. (This is a common occurrence with this shot, likely due to the lighting.)

I found the best exposure with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment. (Click here to see the default exposure setting, which was very dim.)


ISO Series:
The S45 generally shows low noise in its images, but it increases along with the ISO setting. At ISO 400, it's fairly pronounced, but also pretty fine-grained, which makes it less objectionable that the high-ISO noise I've seen in some other cameras.

ISO Series
ISO 050
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


 

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

Great resolution, detail, and color.

Although it produced a slight magenta cast, the S45's Auto white balance setting produced the best overall color and white value here. Both the Manual and Daylight white balance settings resulted in warmer casts, with the Manual setting resulting in a greenish tint. Resolution is very high, with the tree limbs and shrubbery showing a lot of fine detail. Details are just a hint soft throughout the frame, characteristic of Canon's understated handling of in-camera sharpening. (Which is a good thing, IMHO, as it leaves the fine image detail undisturbed, and accessible to further processing in Photoshop(tm) or other imaging software. - Try for instance, unsharp masking in Photoshop, with settings of 150% and 0.4 pixel radius, and you'll likely be impressed at the amount of detail that pops out.)

This shot is also impressive for the lack of softness in the corners of the frame, something that most consumer-level digicams are quite prone to. Overall, an excellent job.


 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, with a good dynamic range.

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, and the S45 does an excellent job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, with distinct leaf patterns in the larger green shrubs. In-camera sharpening does a good job here, with crisp detail throughout the frame, although further unsharp masking in Photoshop will bring out additional detail. Unlike the House poster shot above, there is some corner softness visible in all four corners of the frame. The camera picks up good detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is also strong in the shadow area above the front door, indicating very good dynamic range. Overall color looks good, though exposure is a little bright. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, saturation, and sharpness series.

Resolution Series:
(I've begun only showing the range of image-quality settings for the highest-resolution file size, as I've found that very few people ever view the combinations of lower quality and resolution. The table below thus contains no links to examples of normal and economy JPEG settings at file sizes of 1600x1200 or below, even though the camera is capable of recording in those modes.)

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
S45FAR2272F
S45FAR2272N
S45FAR2272E
1,600 x 1,200
S45FAR1600F
   
1,024 x 768
S45FAR1024F
   
640 x 480
S45FAR0640F
   



ISO Series:
Here's another series, showing the effect of ISO on image noise. Again, noise is quite low at ISO 50, becoming prominent at ISO 400. Even at 400 though, it's fairly fine-grained, so not as objectionable as that from some cameras.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



Sharpness Series:
The S45 lets you adjust the in-camera image sharpening as well. This is a very nice range of variation. The "High" setting gives very crisp results, without too much coarsening of fine detail, while "Low" does an excellent job of preserving the finest details for subsequent sharpening in Photoshop or other imaging applications.

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High



Saturation Series:
Another example of the saturation adjustment.

Saturation Series
Low Normal High



Contrast Series:
- And another one of the contrast tweak as well.

Contrast Series
Low Normal High


 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The S45's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a good wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
6.7x Digital Telephoto
11x Digital Telephoto


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Pretty good color with the Manual white balance setting, and good detail.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The S45's Auto and Daylight white balance settings instead produced cool images, with the Auto setting producing a slight magenta cast as well. The Manual setting resulted in the best overall color, with good skin tones. The blue background has purplish tints that aren't in the original image, as do the shadow areas of the blue robe. Resolution is very high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. (This original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the S45 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

About average macro area, with great detail. Flash has slight trouble, however.

The S45 turned in about an average performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.81 x 2.86 inches (97 x 73 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. The corners are a little soft, but details are sharp throughout the rest of the frame. Barrel distortion is strong in this shot, from the lens' wide-angle position. The S45's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, resulting in strong overexposure.


 

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

Good exposure and color, though additive primary color blocks are a little strong.

The S45's Auto and Daylight white balance settings both produced good results here, though I chose the Auto setting as the most accurate overall (despite a slight reddish tint). Manual white balance resulted in a warmer image. Exposure looks about right, and the S45 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target nicely. Colors are bright and vibrant in the large color blocks, although I found the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) to be a bit oversaturated. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows pretty good detail (particularly considering how dark the S45 rendered it), with low noise, and the last steps of both gray scales are just barely distinguishable. Overall, an excellent performance!


 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low-light performance, with great color and low noise. (AF-assist light helps greatly with focus as well.)

The S45 offers a maximum exposure time of 15 seconds, which results in excellent low-light performance, especially when combined with the adjustable ISO setting. The S45 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at the 100, 200, and 400 ISO settings. At ISO 50, the camera captured bright images as low as 1/8 foot-candles (1.3 lux), though you could use the slightly dim 1/16 foot-candle image as well.

The S45's usefulness in low light conditions is greatly aided by it's bright autofocus-assist light, which makes shooting in total darkness possible. (Albeit at short range - You'll find the AF light most helpful in settings that aren't totally dark, where it'll extend the focus range significantly.)

The S45 automatically employs a Noise Reduction system at shutter speeds slower than 1.3 seconds, and it did a great job during my testing. Even at ISO 400, noise was only moderately high. 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 S45LL0503.JPG
2.5 secs
F2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see S45LL0504.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see S45LL0505.JPG
13 secs
F2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see S45LL0506.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO: 50
Click to see S45LL0507.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO: 50
ISO
100
Click to see S45LL1003.JPG
1.6 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see S45LL1004.JPG
4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see S45LL1005.JPG
6 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see S45LL1006.JPG
13 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see S45LL1007.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
ISO
200
Click to see S45LL2003.JPG
1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see S45LL2004.JPG
2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see S45LL2005.JPG
3.2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see S45LL2006.JPG
6 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see S45LL2007.JPG
15 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
ISO
400
Click to see S45LL4003.JPG
1/ 3 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see S45LL4004.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see S45LL4005.JPG
1.6 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see S45LL4006.JPG
3.2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see S45LL4007.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400

 

Love high ISO photography? Hate noise? Check out Fred Miranda's ISO-R noise-reducing actions for Photoshop. Incredible noise reduction, with *no* loss of subject detail. (Pretty amazing, IMHO.) Check it out!



 

Flash Range Test

Slightly low flash intensity, but brightness remained pretty consistent from eight to 14 feet.

Canon rates the S45's flash as effective to 13.1 feet. In my testing, the flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity, although I felt that it could have been a little brighter across the board. Below is the 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 S45FL08.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9
Click to see S45FL09.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9
Click to see S45FL10.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9
Click to see S45FL11.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9
Click to see S45FL12.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9
Click to see S45FL13.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9
Click to see S45FL14.JPG
1/60 secs
F4.9


 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,100+ lines of "strong detail." About average barrel distortion, but no pincushion.

The S45 performed very well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines, and possibly a bit further. (It's sometimes hard to know just where to "call" the resolution - I generally peg it where I start to see enough aliasing to obscure the target elements, but the S45 gives at least a strong impression of detail well beyond that point. - So I called it as "1,100+".) "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,450 lines.

Optical distortion on the S45 is a bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.7 percent barrel distortion. (This is slightly lower than average among cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see much less geometric distortion in digicam images than this.) The telephoto end fared much better, as I couldn't find even one pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is present, but not too objectionable, at least to my eye. There's about 5-6 pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines in the corners of the image, but the extent is mainly due to the softening in the corners, and the coloration is fairly slight. (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.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,272 x 1,704
S45RESWLF
S45RESWLN
S45RESWLE
1,600 x 1,200
S45RESWMF
   
1,024 x 768
S45RESWSF
   
640 x 480
S45RESWTF
   

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,272 x 1,704
(Fine, Tele)
S45RESTLF


 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A slightly tight optical viewfinder and nearly perfect LCD.

The S45's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing 84 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor, however, was much more accurate. My standard lines of measurement were just outside the final frame, so the LCD is close to 100 percent accurate. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S45 performs quite well in this area. At 84% accuracy, the optical viewfinder is about average among the cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see optical finders more accurate than this.

Flash distribution is fairly even and bright at wide angle, with a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even more uniform but a little dim.


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


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