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  DSLR Tips

Canon PowerShot A640 Gordon Laing, November 2006

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

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Canon PowerShot A640 noise level comparison

To measure and compare the Canon PowerShot A640's noise levels we photographed the standard Gretag Macbeth ColorChecker with it and a number of rival models at each of their ISO settings.

The crops are taken from the original images and presented here at 100%. To compare typical noise in skies and dark shadows the crops were taken from patches 3 and 24 respectively.

The PowerShot A640 delivers fairly clean results in this test up to 200 ISO, although noise noticeably appears at 400 and especially 800 ISO.

Overall, noise levels appear higher on the A640 than the other cameras here. They're already visibly worse at 200 ISO and much more so at 400 and 800 ISO. At first this looks like a poor result for the A640, but it actually reveals the camera's relatively modest approach to noise reduction.

Many cameras apply aggressive noise reduction which may hide the noise speckles, but at the cost of smearing fine detail. In contrast, the A640 appears turn down its noise reduction with the result of far more noticeable speckles, but a decent level of detail left intact - you can better see this on the next page. Which approach is preferable is entirely personal, but at least Canon allows you to apply additional noise reduction after the event if desired using software like Noise Ninja.

As always though, the flat colours of the Gretag chart here can hide a multitude of sins, so always additionally compare ISO performance on real-life outdoor subjects as illustrated on the following page and in our Canon A640 Gallery.

Note: we have compared 100% crops from each camera here measuring 136x136 pixels. Since the Canon A640 and Sony N2 employ higher resolution sensors, these crops represent a smaller area of their total image size than the Fujifilm F30 and Panasonic TZ1. As such, any artefacts seen on the Canon A640 and Sony N2 crops would appear smaller than those on the other crops if the original images were printed exactly the same size.

Canon PowerShot A640
Fujifilm FinePix F30
Panasonic Lumix TZ1
Sony Cybershot N2
Canon A640 at 80 ISO
Fujifilm F30 - 80 ISO unavailable
Panasonic TZ1 at 80 ISO
Sony N2 - 80 ISO unavailable
80 ISO
80 ISO unavailable
80 ISO
80 ISO unavailable
Canon A640 at 100 ISO
Fujifilm F30 at 100 ISO
Panasonic TZ1 at 100 ISO
Sony N2 at 100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
Canon A640 at 200 ISO
Fujifilm F30 at 200 ISO
Panasonic TZ1 at 200 ISO
Sony N2 at 200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
Canon A640 at 400 ISO
Fujifilm F30 at 400 ISO
Panasonic TZ1 at 400 ISO
Sony N2 at 400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
Canon A640 at 800 ISO
Fujifilm F30 at 800 ISO
Panasonic TZ1 at 800 ISO
Sony N2 at 800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
Canon A640 - 1600 ISO unavailable
Fujifilm F30 at 1600 ISO
Panasonic TZ1 at 1600 ISO
Sony N2 at 1600 ISO
1600 ISO unavailable
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
(High Sensitivity mode)
1600 ISO
Canon A640 - 3200 ISO unavailable
Fujifilm F30 at 3200 ISO
Panasonic TZ1 - 3200 ISO unavailable
Sony N2 - 3200 ISO unavailable
3200 ISO unavailable
3200 ISO
3200 ISO unavailable
3200 ISO unavailable

Canon PowerShot A640 results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting
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