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Canon PowerShot S10

Canon packs 2 megapixels and a 2x optical zoom into the smallest digicam yet!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 12/5/1999

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings: For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the S10's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed: Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the S10 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, we were extremely impressed with the quality of the images produced by the S10. In truth, we rather expected to find that the lens had limitations or excessive distortion, given the tiny body it's crammed into: Surely there would be compromises made in this respect. (We really had no basis for this belief, as we haven't seen any evidence of such compromises in other tiny cameras we've tested, whether from Canon or others. Still, the thought was there.) We were amazed then, to find that the S10 produced photos that are easily in the top tier of current 2 megapixel camera offerings. (November, 1999) Resolution and detail were tack-sharp, and color was excellent as well.

In the resolution test, the S10 tested out at a solid 700 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions. Even at very high spatial frequencies, there's virtually no aliasing. The lens shows relatively little geometric distortion throughout its zoom range, running from 0.5% barrel distortion at the wide angle end to 0.3% barrel distortion in telephoto. Chromatic aberration was slight, estimated at ~0.5 pixel (0.03%.

Perhaps our biggest complaint about the camera is that its optical viewfinder is quite "loose", showing only 77% of the final image area across the full range of the zoom lens. This is less accurate than most cameras we've tested, but the LCD viewfinder compensates somewhat, by being a bit more accurate than most, ranging from about 102% of final view at wide angle(?!) to 95% at telephoto.

In Macro mode, the S10 acquits itself well, providing a minimum capture area only 2.0 x 2.7 inches (51 x 68 mm), at a working distance of about 4.7 inches (12 cm). This doesn't reach the microscopic levels of some recent cameras, but is well in the mainstream of the present market.

Image quality was exceptional overall: Sharpness and resolution are clearly in the top tier of the current (November, 1999) 2 megapixel market, and color is really excellent as well. The only (minor) weakness we could find anywhere was somewhat lower color saturation in blues and greens. Image noise is very low with default ISO setting (ISO 100), and increases relatively gradually as the ISO is boosted to 200 and 400. Low light performance was modest though, as the boosted ISO ratings appear to only provide shorter shutter times, not lower working light levels. Still, the approximately 1 foot-candle (11 lux) minimum usable light level is perfectly adequate for capturing images in dim interior settings, or outdoors at night under typical street lighting.

While it probably doesn't need to be said again, we were very impressed with S10's picture quality, particularly given its diminutive size.

The exceptional take-anywhere compactness and rugged construction of the PowerShot S10 make it an imposing competitor on the digicam playing field. The four capture modes give you a nice range of options and versatility and you have reasonable exposure control as well. Combine that with resolution and image quality at the top of the market for two megapixel digicams (as of November 1999), and you have an excellent digicam that we anticipate will do very well with consumers. Other than adding a longer-ratio zoom lens or a more accurate optical viewfinder, it's hard to find any way in which the S10 could be improved!

Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Canon PowerShot S10!

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