Canon TX1 Review

 
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Canon PowerShot TX1 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Overall very good color, with good hue accuracy. Some slight oversaturation in reds, blues, and greens, but still quite good results.

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.

Saturation. The Canon PowerShot TX1 oversaturates the strong red tones, and some blues and greens a little, but the results are still quite pleasing. 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.

Skin tones. The TX1 did render skin tones slightly on the warm side in most cases, but many consumers find slightly warm skin tones more pleasing than cooler ones. 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.

Hue. Here, the TX1 again performed well, though it pushed cyan tones toward blue (a common occurrence among Canon digital cameras), some reds toward orange and some oranges towards yellow Still, very good results. The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is.

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

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting

Good color with the Auto white balance setting, though a hint warm. Manual white balance was better. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto WB +1.0 EV

Incandescent WB +1.0 EV

Manual WB +1.0 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was only slightly warm with the Auto white balance setting, though the Manual and Incandescent options produced much more accurate results. Because the Incandescent setting had a hint of a cool, magenta cast, I chose the slightly warmer (and more natural-looking) Manual setting. The Canon TX1 required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +1.0 EV. Despite the slight warm cast, overall color with the Manual white balance setting is excellent, without strong purple tints in the blue flowers. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the TX1 performed very well here.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Good color and exposure, though slightly high contrast with the default setting.

Auto White Balance,
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Canon PowerShot TX1 performed pretty well, with only slight overexposure in the outdoor wide shot. The camera required less than the average amount of positive exposure compensation on the portrait. Default contrast is on the high side, though the camera's contrast adjustment did a pretty good job of taming the exposure without strongly affecting the color. The TX1 captured good color outdoors, without too strong of a warm cast. Overall, pretty good results here.

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

Resolution
High resolution, 1,250 ~ 1,300 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
1,250 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,300 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,250 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 1,300 lines vertically. Extinction occurred between 1,800 and 1,900 lines vertically, and didn't really occur in the horizontal direction. 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.

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

Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images overall, though slight edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Moderate noise suppression limits detail in the shadows.

Good definition of high-contrast
elements, though with mild
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
Marti's hair here.

Sharpness. The Canon PowerShot TX1 captures reasonably sharp images, though with slightly mottled detail. Some edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left, but it's minimal and not uncommon. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows significant softening due to noise suppression, as the darker areas of Marti's hair show limited detail. 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.

ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, but very high noise and strong blurring at the higher settings, especially at ISO 1,600.

ISO 80 ISO 100 ISO 200
 
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600

Noise levels are low to moderate at the Canon TX1's lower sensitivity settings, with much higher noise at ISO 400 and higher. Noise pixels are bright at the higher settings, which throws off the color balance a bit, and the grain pattern eliminates some of the finer details above ISO 400. At ISOs 800 and especially 1,600, noise is quite strong, obliterating detail.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but slightly high contrast and limited shadow detail. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness.

Default Exposure +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight:

The Canon PowerShot TX1 produced fairly high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. However, the camera's contrast adjustment handled this problem fairly well, without strongly affecting color balance or tonal gradations. Detail is limited in the shadow areas, with some noise suppression visible. Though some areas look a little dark at +0.3 EV, I preferred it to the image at +0.7 EV, which had too many blown highlights for my preference. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

Note: 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.)

  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
80
Click to see TX1LL00803.JPG
2.5 sec
f3.6
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5 sec
f3.6
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9.9 sec
f3.6
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16 sec
f3.6
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16 sec
f3.6
ISO
100
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2 sec
f3.6
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4 sec
f3.6
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8 sec
f3.6
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16 sec
f3.6
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16 sec
f3.6
ISO
200
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1 sec
f3.6
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2 sec
f3.6
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4 sec
f3.6
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8 sec
f3.6
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16 sec
f3.6
ISO
400
Click to see TX1LL04003.JPG
0.6 sec
f3.6
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1 sec
f3.6
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2 sec
f3.6
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4 sec
f3.6
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8 sec
f3.6
ISO
800
Click to see TX1LL08003.JPG
0.3 sec
f3.6
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0.5 sec
f3.6
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1 sec
f3.6
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2 sec
f3.6
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4 sec
f3.6
ISO
1600
Click to see TX1LL16003.JPG
1/7 sec
f3.6
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1/4 sec
f3.6
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0.5 sec
f3.6
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1 sec
f3.6
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2 sec
f3.6

Low light: The Canon PowerShot TX1 performed well on our low light test, with good color from the Auto white balance setting. At the lower ISO settings (80 and 100), images were bright down to 1/8 foot-candle, which is about 1/8 as bright as average city street lighting at night. From ISO 200 to 1,600, images were bright down to the lowest light levels we test. The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just below the 1/4 foot-candle light level without the AF assist light, so you'll need to make sure it's enabled for darker conditions.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

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 dim exposures at the default exposure setting; the camera required average exposure compensation for flash exposures. Typical range.

39mm equivalent 390mm equivalent
Normal Flash +1.0 EV Slow-Sync Flash +0.7 EV

Coverage. Flash coverage was slightly uneven at wide angle and at telephoto. Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Canon TX1's flash underexposed our subject a little at its default setting, requiring a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get bright results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode required only +0.7 EV exposure compensation, though with a noticeable orange cast.


Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see TX1FL06W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL07W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL08W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL09W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL10W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL11W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see TX1FL12W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL13W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL14W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL15W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL16W.JPG
1/64 sec
f3.6
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see TX1FL06T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL07T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL08T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL09T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL10T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL11T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see TX1FL12T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL13T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL14T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL15T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100
Click to see TX1FL16T.JPG
1/64 sec
f5.7
ISO 100

ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, shots at ISO 100 are bright out to a distance of about 8 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, even the 6-foot shot is a little dim, and the images darken from there. A typical result for a camera with a tiny flash.



Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see TX1FL_MFR066WA0200.JPG
6.6 feet
Auto ISO 200
Click to see TX1FL_MFR039TA0200.JPG
3.9 feet
Auto ISO 200

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, the TX1 seems to perform exactly as Canon says it will at wide angle, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto. Results were a bit dim at telephoto, but the reflection may have affected the metering system.

Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, slightly oversaturated color, good 13x19 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 11x14, ISO 800 shots are still good at 8x10. ISO 1,600 shots are better at 4x6.

The Canon PowerShot TX1 had enough resolution to make decent 13x19 inch prints, if a little soft on close inspection; sharpness improves at 11x14. ISO 400 images still look good at 11x14, which is quite a surprise, but saturation in the reds increases somewhat unnaturally. Contrast and saturation are increased dramatically at ISO 800, but 8x10 images are still usable. ISO 800 images still look good at 8x10, better at 5x7, and ISO 1,600 images are better at 4x6 due to dark, grainy shadows and mottled color. Not a bad performance from such a long zoom lens, again in a very small camera.

Note: 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 Pro 9000 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot TX1 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon PowerShot TX1 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!

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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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