Archive for December, 2010

Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos PaS

Bringing the Canon PowerShot S95 with me to do some after Christmas shopping I snapped some samples of Christmas Tree Decorations and other things – in one of our local shops.

This was to test the Real World Point-and-Shoot (PaS) abilities of the Canon S95. Handheld and only available light used – but it was a very well-lit shop as you can see! Think of the feat this camera does – you just going into a shop and get almost studio-like photos with no preparation or set up at all – no tripod – no flash – no lights – just point-and-shoot!

Going for the multicoloured Christmas Tree Decorations first I would like to point out the there was a cellophane wrapping around the boxes giving some reflections and also some misting effects.

This is where the fast f 2.0 lens really comes in handy and helps achieve better pictures – both keeping the ISO value lower and keeping the shutter times shorter! In a few of the samples the ISO value was kept as low as 80-100! That combined with an effective image stabilization really helps the sharpness!

As always all of these samples are full size and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames! Just click on the photos to see them full-size! Having the camera set up with “P” Program Setting , Automatic White Balance and “Auto ISO” I let the camera pick what it considered the best compromise for each photo. True point-and-shoot! For some of the photos I have added small 100% crops of center and corner for a quick and easy comparison for you – but best is of course to check out the full sample!

   

Starting out with the picture above I used the widest angle (28 mm equiv) and the camera picked ISO 80 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.0.

Looking at it full screen it looks close to perfect just out of the camera – good enough for most of us! Adding a little more saturation and contrast – to counteract the misting from the cellophane wrapping would make it perfect. And this in the shops flourescent lighting! Maybe I should check with them for some good studio lighting perhaps … 😉

Looking at it at 100% I notice – what I think is – some slight corner softness. Not very disturbing – but it is there! (See the rightmost 100% corner crop above.)

The noise is virtually non-existent  and you can not even see it in the out of focus areas.

   

Continuing with the next picture I again used the widest angle (28 mm equiv) and the camera picked a higher value this time – ISO 250 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.0.

Looking at it full screen it looks good just out of the camera – again good enough for most of us! But as before – adding a little more saturation and contrast would make it even better. Looking at it at 100% – there is some corner softness evident. Note that I have gone much closer so the relatively short depth of field (DOF) when using f 2.0 exaggerates the corner softness. Not very disturbing – but it is there! (See the rightmost 100% corner crop above – and also the picture below using f 2.8.)

The noise is very controlled and even if you can see it in the blurry – out of focus – areas – it is very “kind” noise and quite easily accepted. See the rightmost 100% corner crop above where the noise is visible in the top of the crop.

     

One more close up of the lovely Christmas Tree Decorations – once again with 28 mm equiv – and the camera chose – ISO 100 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.8.

Looking at it full screen it looks close to perfect just out of the camera – more than good enough for most of us! But to make it really dazzle – upping the saturation and contrast a little would make it perfect!

Looking at it at 100% – there is no longer any corner softness! This seems to be just because of the slightly smaller aperture of  f 2.8 for this photo. (Compare to the f 2.0 pictures above.) Both edge and corner crops show a good sharpness.

The noise is virtually non-existent  and you can not even see it in the out of focus areas.

 

In the above samples – more Christmas Decorations – the tinsel was taken with 28 mm,  ISO 200,  1/30 sec and f2.0 – and the Santas with 28 mm,  ISO 80,  1/30 sec and f2.8.

In the tinsel (originally strands of silver – invented around 1610!) you can once again see the soft corners and some very slight noise – but once again not very annoying!

In the Santas picture we have the benefit of both lower ISO value (80) and slightly smaller aperture (f2.8) which gives a visibly very calm picture with few disturbances. In short a really good picture – technically at least! 😉

 

Last two samples – straw goats and artificial flowers. The straw goats were taken  with 28 mm,  ISO 80,  1/30 sec and f2.5. The artificial flowers with 28 mm,  ISO 100,  1/30 sec and f2.0.

Both turned out as really good PaS pictures with no obvious faults! Have you noticed that I like wide-angle shots? 😉

Conclusion

The white balance worked perfectly for this type of flourescent light. The light was also quite strong – for ordinary shop lighting! That in combination with the fast (f 2.0) lens made it quite easy to take well exposed and sharp pictures with good colours and little noise. The slight corner softness – I think – can easily be accepted because it increases the “artistic” freedom! Also one could very easily have added a little more “punch” to the pictures by one of the different colour, contrast and sharpness settings. The above is how they came out of the camera with Canon factory settings! To get the absolute best results keeping the ISO as low as possible and stopping down a little – to f 2.8 – is the ideal – and also a no-brainer as this in practical photography goes for all cameras!
(I stress that the pictures looks really good as it is – and I am talking about adding a just a little more saturation and contrast – just to get that extra “wow” effect! This is something you would only bother with for a few pictures that you want to do something extra with – calendars, presents, give away pictures … etc. For ordinary usage you would probably not bother …)
In short: Very good pictures – very easy!

Hope you liked the Christmas samples!

After this will be a post on the depth of field for the Canon S95 and after that it will be a post in which I dig into the abilities of RAW versus JPG! Is RAW really that much better? Is there really a reason to use RAW – if you are a reasonable person and not a pixel-peeper? What can you do with the JPGs – and not? I do not know the answers yet – but I intend to find out!

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Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos ISO Effects #2

This is the second set of sample pictures from the Canon PowerShot S95 and Canon EOS 550D (or Digital Rebel T2i). The main goal is to see how different ISO settings – from low to high – affects the picture quality – mainly the noise levels but also colour saturation. Because this second set is looking – image quality wise – so similar to the first set I will refer you to the first set for comments!

The “Midnight sample” to the left is an extra sample I included. Taken close to midnight with only street lamps to light the scene. The light was very yellow so I used custom white balance. ISO 1600, 1/20 sec f 2.0. Turned out alright I think! For a mysterious effect look at the dark sky on the right and you will see a strange pattern – it can also be seen if you look at the sky between the tree branches! I think it is a combination of noise and the structure of the very dark clouds that was at the time when I took this picture.

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 100 and 200

 

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 400 and 800

 

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 1600 and 3200

 

PhotomanCompareStrip – Canon PowerShot S95

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 100 and 200

 

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 400 and 800

 

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 1600 and 3200

 

PhotomanCompareStrip – Canon EOS 550D

Hope you had some use of this second set!

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Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos ISO Effects

In this post I will be showing samples from the Canon PowerShot S95 and the Canon EOS 550D (or Canon Digital Rebel T2i). This time the main goal is to see how different ISO settings – from low to high – affects the picture quality – mainly the noise levels but also colour saturation.

As  always all of these samples are full size and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames! I have taken a series of pictures of the same motif with the two different cameras: Canon PowerShot S95 and Canon EOS 550D (with the kit lens EF-S 18-55 mm IS) – mostly as comparison – but they are interesting on their own as sample pictures from the 550D! I know it is VERY unfair comparison because of sensor size, price … etc but at least there is something that can be used as a sort of “gold” reference. A compact would have to work VERY hard to surpass any decent DSLR as the ISO goes up – and the light goes down! Give me sun (or rather low ISO) and the pictures are very good from all cameras!

NOTE! I forgot to reset the contrast and saturation on the 550D to factory setting – so the pictures can not be directly compared between these two cameras! I will redo this as soon as I have a chance! Sorry for this!

 As I like to see how the cameras work under real world situations (and I am also quite lazy 😉 )I let the respective cameras handle most settings automatically – only intervening at special situations or at price winning photo opportunities!

Both cameras were set similarly: Programmed Automatic Setting (P), AWB, all other settings to normal. Note that the sharpening on 550D is normally set for “soft” from Canon – I did not change that!

The Samples
I will of course put up the full-size samples – but I will also put up what I call “PhotomanCompareStrip” – where I have taken the same (what I think is) representative area of the picture for each of the different ISO values. This way you can very quickly see how higher ISOs affect the picture quality. I have saved the “PhotomanCompareStrip” as PNG-files so the picture quality in the crops will not be affected by one more destructive JPG-compression! Be sure to click them to see the crops in 100% size! Well, you will see below what it is – I hope you will find them convenient ! 🙂 For a more detailed look I do recommend the full size samples!

For the following I think it best to explain what I mean by “pixel-by-pixel” and “full screen”. Firstly “pixel-by-pixel” is when you size the viewing of the picture on the screen so that each pixel in the picture will be show as one pixel on the screen. This means that you can only see a (small) part of the picture but can scroll around to see other parts of the picture. Secondly “full screen” is when you scale (down) the picture so that you can see the full picture on the screen at once.

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 100 and 200

 

Both ISO 100 and 200 are quite good with the S95  I think. No disturbing noise and hardly any loss of detail! definitely nothing that can disturb your eyes if you look att the picture full screen on any normal computer!

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 400 and 800

 

ISO 400 is still quite good – but with some minimal loss of detail that you only can see on a pixel-by-pixel view! At full screen viewing some loss of contrast creeps in. Again you can not see any flaws in sharpness if you look att the picture full screen! The same can not really be said about the noise – which if you look very carefully at evenly lit areas – the sky for example – can be seen or at least “felt” even at full screen – and definitely at pixel-by-pixel viewing! It is not very disturbing – if at all seen in full screen!  ISO 400 is not att all bad and I would say that it is good enough for most purposes!

ISO 800 is still good enough – especially for full screen viewing. You can see differences between ISO 100 and ISO 800 but the later it is definitely still good enough to be used in most situations – even if big size printing will show some noise! Looking att ISO 800 on pixel-by-pixel shows that it is here that the image quality starts to be affected more clearly. Noise, sharpness and contrast are all affected.

Canon S95 Samples – ISO 2000 and 3200

 

ISO 2000 is really an amazing sensitivity – but you pay for it in noise, sharpness and contrast which all are affected. It is still quite alright to view full screen – but now you can quite easily see the noise in the sky and less detail and less contrast in the tree branches at the and of the street. Looking at it pixel-by-pixel you see a significant drop in image quality even compared to ISO 800! Most details have been lost and it has to be said that ISO 2000 should only be used if you really have to to get a picture! Still alright for big objects that fill a bigger part of the picture – but do not at all expect that razor sharpness! Compare it to the Canon EOS 550D picture below for ISO 1600 and you will realize that even if the S95 has a much developed new sensor it is no match for a bigger sensor – but the S95 sensor and processing certainly stands well up against other compact cameras. Compared to my previous “new sensor compact” Samsung WB2000 the S95 has more colour saturation as standard!

ISO 3200 is actually not much worse than ISO 2000 – so much of the same comments apply here! There is some more loss of detail but the big step seems to be between ISO 800 and 2000!

One thing to note: The ISO 3200 sample is slightly over exposed! The camera indicated this – as its aperture does not go any smaller the f 8.0 and the shutter time not any shorter than 1/1600 sec there was too much light for it to handle at such high ISO value.

PhotomanCompareStrip – Canon PowerShot S95

As I have given most comments on the full size samples I will here only observe that you can very easily see the first big drop in resolution when you step up to ISO 800. This is very good – as you normally will not have to go any higher than ISO 400 in outdoors daylight photography. Indoors, restaurant, candle light you might be more willing to accept a little more noise and softer pictures… You can also use the S95 flash – which I seem to love to hate – its annoying but good – if you accept the flat light from a built-in flash. Even if contrast and saturation is affected by the increase in sensitivity there is a very good general similarity between the pictures taken with different ISOs.

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 100 and 200

As this review is of the Canon PowerShot S95 I will not comment the Canon EOS 550D samples.

 

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 400 and 800

 

Canon EOS 550D Samples – ISO 1600 and 3200

 

PhotomanCompareStrip – Canon EOS 550D

A few general comments on the Canon EOS 550D samples. The image quality is amazing with perfectly acceptable results up to ISO 1600 – with very litte loss of detail or colour saturation and very well controlled noise. At ISO 3200 there is an increase in noise and a certain loss of detail but it is still quite enjoyable – especially full screen where you will see almost no loss in image quality. Looking at the picture pixel-by-pixel it looks softer than at lower ISOs and the noise is higher but still well controlled and not very disturbing – especially considering it is a 18 Mpix picture you are looking at!

More in part #2 of Canon S95 samples! 🙂

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Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos

At last I have managed to get the sample photos from the Canon PowerShot S95! The post might as well be titled “Canon EOS 550D – Sample Pictures” (or Canon Digital Rebel T2i) as I will be including – as usual – sample pictures from the 550D – of the same motifs taken at the same time. The cold and snowy weather has – for some time now – kept me from getting comparable pictures from both cameras! The motifs are – of course – much of snow so I plan to do more samples of less snowy things when I get an oportunity!

As  always all of these samples are full size and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames! I have taken a series of pictures of the same motif with the two different cameras: Canon PowerShot S95 and Canon EOS 550D (with the kit lens EF-S 18-55 mm IS) – mostly as comparison – but they are interesting on their own as sample pictures from the 550D! I know it is VERY unfair comparison because of sensor size, price … etc but at least there is something that can be used as a sort of “gold” reference. A compact would have to work VERY hard to surpass any decent DSLR as the ISO goes up – and the light goes down! Give me sun (or rather low ISO) and the pictures are very good from all cameras!

The test shots were taken shortly after midday – with hardly any clouds and no visible variation in lighting. Bear in mind though that the sun does not rise very high on the sky here in Sweden at this time of year – giving a sort of afternoon warmth to the light and very much shadow areas!

Both cameras was set similarly: AWB, all other settings to normal. Note that the sharpening on 550D is normally set for “soft” from Canon – I did not change that!

PRESS STOP! I just saw that I had forgotten to reset the contrast and saturation on the 550D to factory setting – so the pictures can not be directly compared between these two cameras! I will redo this as soon as I have a chance! Sorry for this!

Comparing camera pictures is SOO difficult – all cameras should really be set so that YOU think it gives the best possible result – not just left with what the maker thought was the best… well... Hands up all those that have left the setting at what it was out of the box!  Taking into account that both cameras has different resolution is soo tricky – you will have to scale either way and then the sharpness changes…. but it does all the time that you look att pictures on a screen – very few 18 or 10 MPixel screens exist! Printing the pictures on paper and then comparing them is, I guess, the most fair method…

I will be showing sample photos aimed at different goals. First is the wide-angle and tele sharpness samples – with some 100% crops to make comparison easy!. Then – in the next post – the increasing ISO samples – all the way from low to high ISO. These will all be full-size samples from both the S95 and the 550D.

Click on the sample pictures to see them in full size!

Wide angle sharpness samples

 

Starting with the wide-angle samples above (28 mm equivalent) both cameras produce very similar results. Taken in mostly shade with some sunlight on the roofs. Both cameras were set for ISO 100 and the Programme Setting (P). The S95 picked 1/320 sec and f 4.0 – the 550D picked 1/125 sec and f 7.1. Both combinations are ok – the s95 goes from f 2.0 to 8.0 and the 550D from f 3.5 to 22 so I guess it makes some sense in the S95 staying with the larger apertures. Having the widest angle – that is lessening the effect of visible camera shake and image stabilization still does make me wonder why the S95 picked such a short time and such a large aperture? Would it not make sense to increase the depth of field by using a smaller aperture? The visual impression is of  two cameras that produce similar good sharpness – even if the resolution differ quite a lot! Quite impressive!

This is something to note – that some compact cameras will give images of a quality close to that of a DSLRif used with low ISOs and in good lighting! Once again: Quite impressive! That leaves us with the tricky question of lenses – and there is no question about it – the lens do influence the result! The 18-55 mm Canon kit lens is quite alright – for its price – but better lenses do exist – for a price! I have one prime lens – EF 50 mm 1:1.8 II – that is regarded as very good lens – for its very low price! Build is plasticy – but sharpness when stopped down a little is quite good! I will try to include samples of this when I redo the samples!

From the samples above I have cropped an area of the top of the tree in the middle. On the left I have shown these two 100% crops – different in size due to that the cameras have different resolution – 10 Mpix and 18Mpix.

In between them I have also included a 550D scaled crop (70%) to make it the same size as the S95. I scaled it with Irfanview to show what happens with a picture when you scale it down. As you can see the sharpness goes up! In real life you would (for viewing on a computer screen) scale most images much more than  this – increasing the percieved sharpness – and at the same time loosing some detail…! The maximum resolution and sharpness would only be of use when you print out or crop your picture! This is of course good news to anyone mostly viewing their pictures on screen – any camera (almost) will look real good! 🙂

There are many other interesting parts to look at in the sample pictures! Look at the green bin in the shady area by the fence at the left. There you can see slight noise appearing in the S95 picture where as the 550D is almost noise free.

Also on the tree branches in the very top right you can see that the sharpness has gone down a bit and also some slight purple fringning can be seen. This is something that I can not see when I scale the pictures to fit my screen!

Tele sharpness samples

 

At the tele samples above (85 mm equivalent) both cameras again produce very similar results. Taken in mostly shade with some sunlight on the roofs. Both cameras were set for ISO 100 and the Programme Setting (P). The S95 picked 1/200 sec and f 4.5 – the 550D again picked 1/125 sec and f 7.1. Both combinations are ok – but as the cameras both are using a longer focal length shutter times should really be shorter not longer as with the S95 – the f 4.5 is because at 85 mm that is the aperture you get with the S95 lens. This really comes back to the wide angle – why the S95 picked such a very short time for that? Anyhow, again the visual impression is of  two cameras that produce similar good sharpness! Quite impressive!

 

In the crops above you can see that in the tele setting again the sharpness  is quite similar – both in the centre crops (first) and in the corner crops (second)! One has to be a little amazed at the resolution of the little lens of the Canon S95 has to produce on its very small sensor with its extremely small pixels to look as good as the ones from the Canon 550D with its much bigger sensor! It is 43 mm² compared to 329 mm² which – when the Mpixels are taken into account makes the S95 lens over 4 times as sharp! A bigger sensor actually puts less requirements on the sharpness of the lenses!

Till next time – happy snapping!

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