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Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot SD200 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 nearly accurate color. Contrast is a little high, but detail is still pretty good in the highlights and shadows.

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 SD200 did a good job for an essentially point-and-shoot camera.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which left the highlights a little bright and lower midtones a little dark, but still held reasonably detail in both highlights and shadows. Still, the overall result is surprisingly good, considering that the camera has no contrast adjustment. The SD200's Auto and Daylight white balance settings both produced good results here, but I chose the Auto setting for the main series. The Manual setting resulted in a slight red cast.

Marti's skin tones look very good here, though the blue flowers in the bouquet are almost dead-on, just slightly dark. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, but the SD200 still gets them almost exactly right.) Though just slightly dark, color looks very good throughout the rest of the frame as well. Resolution is very high, and a lot of fine detail is visible in the flower bouquet, as well as in Marti's features and the cloth background. Shadow detail is moderate, and image noise is low. A good job overall.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files SD2OUTAP0.HTM through SD2OUTAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Closer Portrait:

Great resolution and detail, but again, high contrast.

Though contrast is high from the high-key lighting, midtone detail is pretty good. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which keeps midtones in place, but results in bright highlights and dark shadows. Still, detail is pretty good in both the shadows and highlights. The SD200's 3x zoom lens helps prevent geometric distortion in Marti's features, though some slight distortion is still noticeable. Resolution and detail are much stronger in this close-up shot, with strong definition in Marti's face and hair.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files SD2OUTFACAP0.HTM through SD2OUTFACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

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

Moderate underexposure with the flash in the normal setting, though good exposure with the Slow-Sync mode. Fairly strong orange cast, though.

The SD200's built-in flash illuminated the subject very well with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, as the default exposure was fairly dark. The color balance is warm from the background incandescent lighting with an orange cast on the back wall and Marti's hair, though Marti's skin tone and the flower bouquet actually look pretty good. The camera's Slow-Sync flash setting produced slightly more even lighting from the longer shutter speed, though the orange cast increased as well. I found the best results in this mode with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, as the longer exposure produced better lighting on Marti's face. While the warm cast is stronger, I find the better-balanced lighting more appealing.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV in the normal flash mode, see files SD2INFP0.HTM through SD2INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files SD2INFSP0.HTM through SD2INFSP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

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

Very good color with all three white balance settings (much better than average), average exposure compensation required.

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, but the SD200 handled it surprisingly well with all three white balance settings I tried. The SD200's Manual white balance setting produced the best results here, as the Auto setting resulted in a warm cast and the Incandescent setting resulted in a slight reddish tint (though results weren't too far off). Marti's skin tone looks very good, and the flower bouquet looks about right as well. The blue flowers do have slight purplish tints to them, but their color is still excellent, considering the difficult light source here. The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files SD2INMP0.HTM through SD2INMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
At low ISOs, noise is quite low, with very little loss of subject detail. At ISO 200, the image softens just a little, but noise remains at an acceptable level. At ISO 400, the noise is more evident, and the subject detail softer still, but the overall effect is much better than I'd expect from a subcompact digicam at ISO 400. (The softness in Marti's hair in the ISO 50 shot is motion blur, from the very long exposure.)

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

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

Accurate color, with high resolution and strong detail. Some blurring in the corners though.

While all three of the SD200's white balance settings I tested performed pretty well here, I chose the Manual setting as the most accurate overall, based on the white value of the house trim. The Daylight and Auto settings also looked really good, just with the teeniest warm casts. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs, front shrubbery, and house front. Details are slightly soft throughout the center of the frame, softening more in the corners from some lens distortion. Some of the softness in the center of the image is just a result of Canon's very conservative approach to in-camera sharpening: The SD200's images take strong/tight (250-300%, 3 pixel radius) unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) very well.



 

Far-Field Test

High resolution and strong detail, but high contrast limits the dynamic range. Very soft corners, and soft details overall. (The photos benefit greatly from image sharpening on the computer.)

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 SD200 captures a lot of fine detail. The leaf patterns in the front shrubbery and in the tree limbs above the roof show a lot of fine detail, as does the brick pattern on the house front. However, details are quite soft overall, with increasing softness in the corners of the frame. As we saw above with the House poster studio shots though, the images take sharpening on the computer unusually well. (Meaning that the overall softness isn't an optical problem, but rather the result of Canon's typically very conservative use of in-camera sharpening.) The bright sunlight causes the camera to lose essentially all detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is only marginal in the shadow area above the front door as well, further evidence of a limited dynamic range. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and color effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
SD2FAR2048F
SD2FAR2048N
SD2FAR2048E
1,600 x 1,200
SD2FAR1600
-
1,024 x 768
SD2FAR1024
-
640 x 480
SD2FAR0640
-


ISO Series:
As above, the Canon SD200's image noise is low overall, and surprisingly so at higher ISO settings. While the camera does unavoidably trade away some subtle detail to keep the noise in check, the overall effect is lower than average noise levels, with better than average preservation of detail in areas of subtle contrast.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Color Effects Series:

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



 

Lens Zoom Range

A good 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 SD200's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty substantial telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slightly red/magenta color, but still good results. High resolution and 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. Both the SD200's Auto and Manual settings produced pretty good color here, while the Daylight setting produced a warmer cast. I preferred the slightly warmer (and a hint less magenta) skin tones of the Auto setting over the Manual, so I stuck with it for the main shot. Though the slight red cast creates faint purplish tints in the blue background and in the shadow areas of the blue robe, overall color still looks good. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the models' accessories and instruments, and in the embroidered bird wings on the blue robe as well. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the SD200 are capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

A very small macro area with great detail. Flash has trouble up close though.

The SD200 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 1.81 x 1.36 inches (46 x 35 millimeters). Resolution is high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are softer on the coins and brooch due to the close shooting range. Details soften toward the corners of the frame, but are fairly sharp on the dollar bill. (Most digicams produce images with soft corners when shooting in their Macro modes.) The SD200's flash has trouble at such close range, overexposing the top of the frame and leaving the bottom right corner in shadow. (Definitely plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the SD200.)



 

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

Good overall exposure and color.

Though just slightly warm overall, with faint yellow tints, the SD200's Auto white balance setting produced the best results here, though the Manual setting also produced good results (just a hint magenta). The Daylight setting resulted in a slight warm cast. Exposure looks about right, and the SD200 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. The large color blocks are all pretty good, with good saturation. (Reds, blues and (most notably) greens are slightly oversaturated, the yellow block is slightly undersaturated. The overall effect is very pleasing though.) The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows moderate detail, with moderately low noise.


The results in the tests below mirror those seen above in other test shots. The test series are repeated here without further comment, for the benefit of our more quantitatively-oriented readers.


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Color Effects Series:

Color Effects Series
Neutral Color
Vivid Color
Black & White
Sepia
Low Sharpening
No Effect



 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low-light performance. Good color and exposure, with low image noise, at the darkest light levels of this test. Good low-light autofocus as well.

The SD200 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, images were bright down to the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level, though the target is visible at the lowest light level of the test. Noise is fairly low in most shots, and even at ISO 400, image noise is lower than I expected. Autofocus performance is also excellent, with the camera able to focus down to 1/4 foot-candle with no AF assist, and in complete darkness with the AF-assist light enabled. Since city street-lighting at night generally corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, the SD200 should do very well for after-dark photography in typical outdoor settings. 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 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.)

  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 SD2LL0503.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL0504.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL0505.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL0506.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL0507.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see SD2LL1003.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL1004.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL1005.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL1006.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL1007.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see SD2LL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL2004.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL2005.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL2006.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL2007.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see SD2LL4003.JPG
1/3 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL4004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL4005.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL4006.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see SD2LL4007.JPG
6 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

A slightly weak flash, with falloff from nine feet on.

In my testing, the SD200's flash weakly illuminated the test target at 14 feet, showing decreasing intensity from the nine-foot distance on. 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 SD2FL08.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD2FL09.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD2FL10.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD2FL11.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD2FL12.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD2FL13.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD2FL14.JPG
1/60 sec
f4.9



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,050 lines of "strong detail." Moderate barrel distortion at wide angle.

The SD200 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height in both directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines horizontally, but only to about 1,000 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines. Here's a sample image with the camera's Low Sharpness setting.

(Norman Koren's Imatest program reports average resolution here of 934 line widths per picture height, and 1,173 LW/PH when normalized to a one-pixel sharpening radius.)

Geometric distortion on the SD200 is a bit less than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.6 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared quite a bit better, as I measured approximately 0.05 percent pincushion distortion (about one pixel's worth). Chromatic aberration is virtually nonexistent, as I couldn't really find any strong pixels of coloration. (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.) What I did see here is strong blurring in the corners of the image, especially at wide angle focal lengths, and more so for distant subjects than closer ones. (Although the shot above, taken at a distance of about a meter and a half at a middle focal length still shows a lot of flare in the corners.) - This pronounced corner softness is the one significant flaw in what is otherwise an excellent digicam.

Resolution Series, medium focal length
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
SD2RES2048F
SD2RES2048N
SD2RES2048E
1,600 x 1,200
SD2RES1600
-
-
1,024 x 768
SD2RES1024
-
-
640 x 480
SD2RES0640
-
-


 

Resolution Test, Zoom Series
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine,
Wide Angle)
SD2RESW
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine,
Telephoto)
SD2REST



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but accurate LCD monitor.

The SD200's optical viewfinder is very tight, showing only 82 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 83 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor actually proved very slightly loose, showing just a bit more than what made it into the final frame, though results were near 100 percent accuracy. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the SD200's LCD monitor performed pretty well here, but its optical viewfinder has much room for improvement. Flash distribution is a very uneven at wide angle, with strong falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform, with only faint falloff in the corners.




SD200 Review
SD200 Test Images
SD200 Specifications
SD200 "Picky Details"
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