Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot S410 Test Images
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!|
NOTE: For those of you who've already read my review of Canon's PowerShot S500, you can save yourself some reading here. The results are very between the two cameras, so many of my remarks here are almost word for word the same as those for the S500. Overall though, the S410 has:
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 Canon PowerShot S410 produced good color, but somewhat high contrast.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, producing reasonably good midtones but dark shadows and lost detail in the strong highlights. (To my eye, this shot is marginally too dark, but felt that an exposure compensation of +0.7 EV resulted in too much lost highlight detail.) I chose the Daylight white balance setting as the most accurate overall, though the Auto setting also produced good results. I also shot with the Manual white balance, but the results were too warm.
Marti's skin tone looks very good, just slightly pink in some areas, but within acceptable limits and generally pleasing to the eye. The always-difficult blue flowers are just about perfect, a tough job for most digicams. (This is a difficult blue for many digicams to get right, but the S410 does an excellent job.) The strong reds, greens, and yellows also look good, with appropriate saturation despite the harsh lighting. Resolution is excellent, and details are crisp and well-defined, although it looks like the S410's anti-noise processing flattens out some of the subtle detail in Marti's hair. Shadow detail also looks good, with moderately low noise, although as noted, subtle detail suffers due to anti-noise processing. Overall, an excellent performance though.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files S41OUTDP0.HTM
through S41OUTDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Excellent resolution and detail, though high contrast once again.
Color and exposure are similar to the wider shot above, and the S410's 3x optical zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. (A zoom lens is important for close-up portraits like this, to avoid the "chipmunk" distortion that a wide-angle lens causes.) The shot at right was also taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which again resulted in some blown highlights, but moderate midtones. The S410 again responded to the deliberately harsh lighting of the shot with high contrast, as in the wider shot above. Resolution and detail are much stronger here, with great definition in Marti's face, as well as in her hair. Skin tones are again good, just slightly pinkish in some areas, but appealing overall.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files S41FACM1.HTM
through S41FACP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, little effect in the normal exposure mode from the room lighting.
The S410's built-in flash did a pretty good job here, though the exposure
was dim at the default setting. The best exposure
was with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment,
quite a bit less than the S500 required on this shot. The exposure is
a little flat, with slightly harsh lighting on Marti, but highlight detail
is good. Color accuracy is very good as well, with a good blue in the
flower bouquet, and little effect from the strong incandescent room lighting.
I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which required a +1.0
EV exposure compensation boost. Because
the shutter time is longer, more ambient light gets into the image, resulting
in a stronger orange cast from the household incandescent lighting.
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Good color with the Incandescent white balance option. Good exposure as well.
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. The S500's Auto white balance had a lot of trouble here, producing a strong warm cast. The Manual setting produced nearly accurate results, though slightly yellow, while the Incandescent setting produced the best results overall, doing a truly excellent job with this difficult light source. Though just a tad reddish, the Incandescent image has the most accurate white value on Marti's shirt, and color is very good throughout the rest of the frame, even in the difficult blue flowers of the bouquet. The shots at right have a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average for this shot.
Excellent color and detail.
The S410's Manual white balance option produced
the most accurate white value on the house trim, with good overall color
as well. The Auto and Daylight
settings also performed well, though with slight warm casts. Resolution
is very high, with great detail in the tree limbs above the roof, as well
as in the front shrubbery. Details are also sharp throughout most of the
frame, but there's quite a bit of softness in the corners on of the image,
particularly the upper left.
Excellent resolution and detail, with good color, but a limited dynamic range.
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 S410 does a very good job with it. Detail is very strong in the tree limbs over the roof, as well as in the fine foliage in front of the house, with strong definition and clarity in the leaf patterns and tree bark. In-camera sharpening does a good job here, with crisp details throughout most of the frame, without visible "halos." The camera picks up moderate detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, and detail is also strong in the shadow area above the front door. Exposure is a little bright, but overall color is good.
The biggest problem with this shot is that the S410's lens shows a lot of "coma" (blurring in the corners), and a fair amount of chromatic aberration there too. While the S410's lens is quite sharp, it does appear to lose sharpness in the corners of the frame.
The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and effects series.
Lens Zoom Range
A typical 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 S410's lens is equivalent to a 36-108mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Great color overall, with high resolution.
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. The S410 performed very well here, producing nearly
accurate color with all three white balance settings tested. I chose the
Auto setting because I liked the skin tones best, but the Daylight
setting also looked good. (The Manual white
balance resulted in a cooler, magenta image.) The blue robe looks pretty
accurate, without any strong purple tints in the dark shadows. Resolution
is excellent, as detail is strong in the embroidery of the blue robe and
on the red vest. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB
though, so cameras like the S410 are definitely capable of showing more
detail than the poster has in it.)
A small macro area with great detail and resolution, though the flash has a little trouble.
The S410 did a good job in the macro category, capturing a minimum area
of only 2.18 x 1.63 inches (55 x 41 millimeters). Resolution is very high,
and detail is strong in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are
softer in the coins and brooch, due the shallow depth of field caused
by the short shooting distance. There's also some softness in all four
corners of the frame, but this is fairly typical for digicam macro shots.
The S410's flash throttles down surprisingly
well for the macro area, but its position on the camera results in a dark
shadow in the lower right corner. - Plan on using external lighting for
the closest macro shots with the S410.
"Davebox" Test Target
Good exposure and accurate color.
The S410's Auto and Manual
settings both produced good color here, though I chose the Manual setting
for the main shot. (The Daylight setting was
too warm.) Though just slightly bright, exposure looks pretty good and
the S410 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well.
The large color blocks are accurate and well-saturated, although the additive
primaries (red, green, and blue) seem just slightly oversaturated Detail
is good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with moderate noise.
Oddly, the S410 seems to show less lens flare in this shot than I saw
on the S500, even though the two cameras use the same lens design.
Great low-light performance, with good exposures and accurate color in very low lighting.
The S410 did an excellent job here, producing clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with great color at all four ISO settings. At ISO 50, the image was slightly dim at the lowest light level, but results were still quite usable. Given the S410's slightly higher-than-average noise under daylight conditions, I found the noise here surprisingly low in most cases, and even at ISO 400 was lower than I had anticipated. The S410 is also helped in its low light shooting by a bright autofocus assist illuminator, that lets it focus even in complete darkness. (At least on nearby subjects.) 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 1 foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure
of 2 seconds at F/2.8 and ISO 100.)
Flash Range Test
Good flash performance, though slight falloff at the further distances.
In my testing, the S410's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but with decreasing intensity from the nine-foot distance on out to 14 feet. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 1,100 lines of "strong detail." About average barrel distortion, though no pincushion.
The S410 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to 1,100-1,150 lines. (Actually, resolution is a little hard to call on the S410, as there's what appears to be meaningful detail visible well beyond the 1,150 line point, but there's also very strong aliasing. Some reviewers might be inclined to go as far as to say that there's 1,300+ lines of resolution here, but my conservative nature says to call it quits when the aliasing gets as strong as the primary detail.) "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,450 lines.
Optical distortion on the S410 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.7 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I measured only 0.09 percent barrel distortion there. The S410's lens has some problems with coma and/or flare in the corners of the frame though, with a fair bit of softness evident, particularly along the left side. That said, chromatic aberration doesn't appear to be all that strong, as there's only fairly weak color visible on the fringes of the target elements. (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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A tight optical viewfinder, but accurate LCD monitor.
The S410's optical viewfinder is quite tight, showing 82 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 77 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing about 98 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto settings. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S410's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard, but its optical viewfinder could definitely use some help. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with slight falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.
S410 Test Images
S410 "Picky Details"
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