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!|
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.
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
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
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
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
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.
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.
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.
Color Effects Series:
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.
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.)
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
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.
Color Effects Series:
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.)
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.
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
Resolution Test, Zoom Series
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 Test Images
SD200 "Picky Details"
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