Canon SD890 IS Optics


A nice 5x optical zoom lens with very good performance. Digital zoom performance is a little better than average.

37mm 185mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS' optical zoom range covers the equivalent of a 37-185mm zoom on a 35mm camera, which is a greater range than the average pocket digital camera. Details are sharp at full wide angle, with low levels of coma distortion and a small amount of blurring in the corners of the frame. Results at full telephoto are also good, with increased detail definition, and much less corner softening. The camera's 4x digital zoom performs pretty well considering the digital enlargement. Though artifacts obscure finer details and resolution is lost, the camera did a good job of holding onto a lot of detail there.

A tiny macro area with good detail and high resolution. Closest focusing distance is too close for the flash.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS' macro setting performed very well, capturing a tiny minimum area of 1.13 x 0.85 inches (29 x 22 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both very good at the center of the frame, though there's a significant amount of softening in the corners from the lens, and chromatic aberration starts quite early, affecting the inside of the numeral 1. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The PowerShot SD890 IS' flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and was also partially blocked by the lens, resulting in a very uneven exposure. Plan on using external lighting for any macro shots with the Canon SD890 IS.

High barrel distortion, though moderately low pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 37mm is 0.9%
Pincushion at 185mm is 0.2%

The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS's 0.9% barrel distortion at wide angle is a little higher than average, and noticeable in a few images. At the telephoto end, the Canon SD890 IS's 0.2% pincushion distortion is moderately low. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic aberration
Very high and bright at wide angle, though fewer pixels at telephoto.

Wide: High and bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Quite bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: Slightly high and bright,
top left @200%
Tele: High and bright,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is quite high at wide angle, showing a large number of pixels of very bright coloration on either side of the target lines. (Some blurring in the corners is likely exaggerating the effect.) At telephoto, fewer pixels are present, but pixels are fairly bright. Chromatic aberration is visible as a colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Sharpness
Strong blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle, less at telephoto.

Wide: Strong blurring in the
corners (upper left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Softer in the
corners (lower right)
Tele: Sharp at center.

The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS produced very soft corners of the frame at full wide angle, particularly along the right side of the frame. At full telephoto, blurring was less intrusive, and mainly noticeable in the lower right corner as the other three corners of the frame were notably sharper.


Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor, but a very tight and skewed optical viewfinder.

37mm eq., Optical 185mm eq., Optical
37mm eq., LCD 185mm eq., LCD

The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS' optical viewfinder was very tight, showing only 78% frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 76% at telephoto. Images framed with the optical viewfinder were also slanted off axis toward the left. The LCD monitor, however, proved much more accurate, showing about 102% of the frame at wide angle and about 100% at telephoto.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot SD890 IS Photo Gallery .

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