Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot SD110 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, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!|
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 SD110 did a great job with it.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in good-looking midtones without sacrificing too much highlight detail. (This is a fair bit less exposure compensation than most cameras require for this shot.) I chose the Auto white balance setting as the most natural, although the Daylight setting produced very similar results. The Manual white balance setting resulted in an image with a slightly warm color balance.
Skin tones here are natural and pleasing, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are almost exactly right. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, often producing it too darkly with purplish tints, but the SD110 did very well with them.) Color looks good and accurate throughout the rest of the frame as well, with appropriate saturation levels. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, particularly in the flower bouquet. Shadow detail is strong, with low noise. Overall, an excellent job.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files SD11OUTMM1.HTM through SD11OUTMP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Effects Series: The SD110 offers Canon's standard range of color effects, as shown below. A low sharpening option is also available, in case you want to sharpen the images yourself on a computer later.
Excellent resolution and detail, with a good exposure.
Exposure is similar to the wider shot above, though I chose the camera's default exposure setting for the main shot. Midtones look about right, and only the hottest highlights are blown out. The SD110 offers a 2x zoom lens, which helps prevent strong distortion of Marti's features, although a little longer focal length would be best for a close-in shot like this one. Detail and resolution are much stronger in this shot, with better definition. Details are also strong in the shadows.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files SD11FACAM1.HTM
through SD11FACAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, but a fairly noticeable orange cast from the incandescent background lighting.
The SD110's built-in flash illuminated the subject pretty well here, though it seemed either slightly dim or too powerful, depending on the exposure setting. At +0.7 EV (the exposure that I chose for the main shot), flash power is low but reasonably even. At +1.0 EV, the image was really a bit overexposed, but did lose the slight orange cast of the dimmer shot. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced pretty good results as well, although again with an orange cast from the background incandescent lighting. The best exposure was again obtained with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, as anything brighter created very hot highlights on Marti's white shirt.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV in the normal flash mode, see files SD11INAFP0.HTM through SD11INAFP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
To view the same series in the Slow-Sync flash
mode, see files SD11INAFSP0.HTM through SD11INAFSP5.HTM on the
thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Accurate color with the Incandescent white balance setting, 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. The SD110's Incandescent
white balance did the best job here, and produced great color. The Manual
setting also produced good results (keeping a slight yellow cast from
the scene lighting that some users might actually prefer, as being more
evocative of the original scene), but the Auto
setting had a difficult time, producing a strong orange cast. The best
exposure was obtained with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation setting, which
is about average for this shot. Skin tones look very good, and the blue
flowers are only a little dark. Excellent results overall.
Accurate color, with high resolution and detail.
The SD110's Manual white balance setting
produced great results here, with the most accurate white value on the
house trim and the best overall color (though just a hint cool). The Auto
and Daylight settings also produced good
results, though with warmer casts. Resolution is high, and detail is strong
in the tree limbs and front shrubbery. Details are just a little soft
throughout the frame, with increased softness in the corners, but neither
effect seems too extreme in this shot.
A fair bit of detail, but softer than the best full-sized 3 megapixel models. (The A70 being a good example thereof.)
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 SD110 captures quite a bit of detail, but nonetheless falls short of the best full-sized three-megapixel cameras. (I use the earlier Canon PowerShot A70 as a reference for what a good-quality basic 3MP point and shoot camera can be capable of.) The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show a fair bit of detail, especially in the leaf patterns, but the finest details are a little fuzzy. The brick patterns and trim of the house also have good definition. While the details are a little soft overall, there doesn't seem to be much additional falloff in sharpness as you get into the corners. The camera does lose most of the detail in the bright white paint of the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is moderate in the shadow area above the front door though. While dynamic range and sharpness appear a little limited, color accuracy is excellent. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, white balance, and effects series.
White Balance Series:
Lens Zoom Range
A 2x zoom range. (A bit limited, but typical of subcompact models.)
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 (2x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The SD110's lens is equivalent to a 35-70mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a standard wide angle to a modest telephoto. (Full-sized zoom-equipped digicams typically cover a range of 35-105mm.) Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Good color, though slightly cool, with the Manual white balance setting. Strong 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. Though slightly cool, I felt that the SD110's Manual
white balance option produced the best overall results here. I almost
chose the Auto setting, but in the end decided
it was just a tad warm. (The Daylight setting
was much warmer.) The Auto white balance did better with the heavy blue
component than do many cameras, though. Skin tones are slightly pale,
but the blue robe and background look about right, without any strong
purplish tints. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the fabric
patterns and embroidery, as well as in the finer details of the musical
instruments and beaded necklaces.
A moderately small macro area with good detail. Flash almost throttles down enough, but coverage is a little uneven.
The SD110 did pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum
area of 3.32 x 2.49 inches (84 x 63 millimeters). Resolution is high,
and detail is strong in the coins, brooch, and dollar bill. Details are
well-defined, especially in the tonal differences of the larger coin.
The two left corners of the frame, corner softness being a common failing
in digicam macro shots. Exposure is a little bright, but color is about
right. The SD110's flash almost throttles
down for the macro area, resulting in a hot spot in the upper left corner
and falloff in the two lower corners and edge.
"Davebox" Test Target
Good color accuracy, good saturation but slightly "hot" additive primaries.
The SD110's Auto and Manual white balance settings produced nearly identical images with pretty accurate color, so I chose the Auto setting for the main shot. (The Daylight setting resulted in a slight warm cast.) The default exposure resulted in a slightly dark image, so I used +0.3EV exposure compensation on the shots at right, although I think they're as a result slightly bright. The large color blocks have very accurate hues, and are generally appropriately saturated, although the additive primary colors--red, green, and blue--are a little too vibrant. Detail is moderate in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, and noise is low.
The SD110's images here show a bit more noise at each ISO level than I'm accustomed to seeing from the best full-sized three-megapixel cameras, perhaps due to the smaller pixels of its smaller sensor. (Not terrible, but slightly higher image noise is generally a tradeoff you have to accept in subcompact digicams.)
Excellent low-light performance, with good focusing, color, and exposure.
The SD110 has a maximum shutter time of 15 seconds, which helps the camera capture bright images even in very low lighting. In my testing, the SD110 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all four ISO settings. Noise was quite low at the 100 and 50 ISO settings, becoming apparent at ISO 200. At ISO 400, noise is higher, but still not too bad. (After the results I saw in the Indoor Portrait test I was expecting to see more noise here. It's possible that the better color balance on this light source helped the blue-channel nose though, and also that the long-exposure anti-noise processing helped as well.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all my sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
(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.)
Flash Range Test
A pretty good flash for a subcompact digicam, with good intensity to between eight and nine feet, then increasing falloff from there.
Canon rates the SD110's flash as effective from to a maximum of 9.8 feet (3.0 meters), close to my own findings. In my testing, the flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but with decreased intensity from the 10 foot distance on. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 950 - 1,050 lines of "strong detail." Lower than average barrel distortion at wide angle, and a tiny amount at telephoto as well.
The SD110 turned in about an average performance on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its three megapixel resolution. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to about 1,050 lines horizontally, 950 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,250 lines.
Optical distortion on the SD110 is a little less than average at the
wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.6 percent barrel distortion.
The telephoto end fared even better, as I measured only 0.2 percent pincushion
distortion. Chromatic aberration is quite low, showing only very 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.
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A tight optical viewfinder, and very slightly loose LCD monitor.
The SD110's optical viewfinder is quite tight, showing only about 82 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 79 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared a little better, though it was actually just slightly loose, showing slightly more of the frame than what made it into the actual shot. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the SD110's LCD monitor does pretty well, as it comes very close to exactly 100 percent. Flash distribution is somewhat uneven at wide angle, with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame and a bright spot at the center. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even.
SD110 Test Images
SD110 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Canon PowerShot SD110, or add comments of your own!
1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate
2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate
3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate