Canon SD430 Review

 
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Canon SD430 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slight oversaturation in the reds and blues, very typical of consumer digital cameras. Generally good hue accuracy.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Canon SD430 does oversaturate strong red and blue tones, though in most cases, results will be acceptable to the average consumer. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. The SD430 did produce slightly pink skin tones, but results here were also quite believable.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Here, the Canon SD430 pushed cyan colors toward blue, to produce better-looking sky colors, but most hues still appeared fairly accurate. Images did appear slightly magenta or warm toned, depending on the white balance setting and composition.

(See our Canon PowerShot SD430 Digital ELPH Photo Gallery for more shots taken with the camera.)

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Moderate warm cast with both Auto and Incandescent white balance settings, though good results with Manual. About average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance +1.0 EV Incandescent WB +1.0 EV
 
Manual White Balance +1.0 EV  

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was just a bit warm and reddish in Auto and Incandescent white balance modes, though the Manual setting resulted in more accurate results. The Canon SD430 required a +1.0 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is about average for this shot. Overall color looks good, though the blue flowers are a little dark. (A very common outcome for this shot.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulb, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the US.

Outdoors, daylight
Slightly warm overall color, though still good. Pretty good exposure as well, just a little contrasty in harsh lighting.

Auto White Balance, +0.7 EV Auto White Balance, Auto Exposure

Outdoor shots generally showed accurate exposure with slightly blown out highlights with the Canon SD430. Shadow detail was a bit limited, but still fair. Exposure accuracy overall was about average, the camera requiring a small amount of exposure compensation.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, 1,100 - 1,200 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,200 lines per picture height horizontally, but to about 1,100 lines vertically from the Canon SD430. Extinction occurred at around 1,600 lines. The camera also produced noticeable color artifacts in the lower line frequencies as well. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail. Beware that while you might be able to make out what looks like distinct lines at numbers higher than those we've mentioned here, the camera is just doing its best to continue interpreting the lines. If you zoom in and follow them from the wider portions, you'll see the lines converge and reappear several times, so the lines you see at 1,500 and higher are really only artifacts generated by the camera's imaging system.

Strong detail to 1,200 lines horizontal Strong detail to 1,100 lines vertical

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Slightly soft images overall, though still good detail. Some noise suppression in the shadows, but still good detail here as well.

Slightly soft definition of high-contrast elements. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here.

The PowerShot SD430's images are slightly soft overall, and the camera doesn't appear to over-sharpen or enhance the edges of high contrast subjects too strongly. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.)

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop at far right shows moderate noise suppression in the darker areas of Marti's hair, though detail is still pretty good here.

ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, with higher, brighter noise at the higher sensitivity settings.

ISO 50 ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400

The Canon SD430's lower ISO settings produced low to moderate noise, with moderate blurring in the darker areas. As the ISO setting increases, so does the noise level and the amount of blurring that results. At ISO 400, noise pixels are much brighter, compromising fine detail.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with good overall detail, though slightly soft overall. Slightly high contrast, though fairly good shadow detail. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and much darker conditions.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The Canon SD430 produced high contrast in response to the harsh lighting in the test above, though shadow detail is still fairly good. A +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost produced the best-looking overall exposure, though in "real life" a fill flash would be best in situations like the one shown above.

Low light:
The PowerShot SD430 performed well in low lighting, as the camera captured bright images down to the lowest light levels we test at with the higher ISO settings. At ISOs 50 and 100, images were bright and usable to about 1/8 foot-candles, which is about 1/8 as bright as average city street lighting at night. Color balance looked good with the Auto white balance setting, without any strong color casts even in the dimmer exposures. The camera's autofocus system worked down to about 1/4 foot-candle unassisted, and past the lowest light level with the AF assist enabled.

  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 SD43LL0503.jpg
4 sec
f2.8
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8 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see SD43LL1003.jpg
2 sec
f2.8
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4 sec
f2.8
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8 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see SD43LL2003.jpg
1 sec
f2.8
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2 sec
f2.8
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4 sec
f2.8
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8 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
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1/2 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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2 sec
f2.8
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4 sec
f2.8
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8 sec
f2.8

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
Slightly uneven coverage at wide angle, though more uniform results at telephoto. Pretty good performance under average indoor conditions, though slightly warm color.

35mm equivalent 105mm equivalent
Normal Flash +1.0 EV Slow-Sync Flash +0.7 EV

Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle but more uniform at telephoto. In the Indoor test, the Canon SD430's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results (about average for this shot). Color balance is slightly warm, but still pretty good overall. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced a more balanced exposure, though the orange cast is much stronger.

At eight feet, our closest test range, the Canon SD430's flash exposed the test target fairly well. Starting at nine feet however, intensity begins to decrease, until the flash is quite low at 14 feet.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see SD43FL08.jpg
1/60 sec
f4.9
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1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD43FL10.jpg
1/60 sec
f4.9
Click to see SD43FL11.jpg
1/60 sec
f4.9
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1/60 sec
f4.9
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1/60 sec
f4.9
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1/60 sec
f4.9

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, great color, very usable 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are very soft at 8x10, acceptable at 5x7, great at 4x6.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5000 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

With the Canon SD430, we found that it had enough resolution to make very crisp 8x10 inch prints. At 11x14, its prints were only a little softer looking, but more than adequate for wall or table display. At high ISO, image noise levels are held in check rather well. ISO 200 photos look very good at 8x10 inches, and ISO 400 ones were still quite usable, though with a little more chroma noise at 8x10. Color-wise, the Canon SD430's images looked excellent when printed on the i5200, with bright, vibrant color.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot SD430 Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon PowerShot SD430 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

Canon SD430

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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