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  DSLR Tips

Canon PowerShot A640 Gordon Laing, November 2006

Canon PowerShot A640 gallery

The following images were taken with the Canon PowerShot A640. The A640 was set Large SuperFine quality, Auto White Balance, Evaluative Metering and with 'My Colours' switched off (the default setting for contrast, saturation and sharpening). The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Landscape: 4.10MB, Program, 1/500, f4, ISO 80, 7.3-29.2mm at 15mm (equivalent to 72mm)

  This landscape shot was taken with the A640 in Program mode and the camera's selected what sounds like a relatively large aperture of f4 - as our results pages show though, this is close to the sweetspot to the A640's lens.

The crops are sharp and detailed with no optical aberrations to worry about.

Portrait: 3.50MB, Aperture Priority, 1/640, f4, ISO 80, 7.3-29.2mm at 22mm (equivalent to 105mm)

  For this portrait shot we stepped back a little and zoomed-in to an equivalent of 105mm. We then opened the aperture as wide as it would go to blur the background.

The overall exposure is good, especially considering the contrast of light on the subject.

The crops are again very sharp and detailed, although again at f4, the lens is operating close to its sweetspot.

Still life : 2.97MB, Program, 1/250, f4, ISO 80, 7.3-29.2mm at 10mm (equivalent to 48mm)

  This photo was clearly taken under very bright conditions, but rather than close the aperture, the A640 selected a quick shutter in its Program mode to go with an aperture of f4. As mentioned above, this aperture is close to the A640's optical sweetspot.

As you'd hope, there's no noise at the A640's lowest sensitivity. The crops from the edges and corner are also very well-corrected, especially the flag badge which could have suffered from fringing with a lesser lens.

Macro: 4.41MB, Aperture Priority, 1/200, f8, ISO 100, 7.3-29.2mm at 7.3mm (equivalent to 35mm)

  The A640 can focus as close as 1cm with the lens zoomed-out, which can allow amazing macro opportunities, although you have to be careful not to cast a shadow at such close range.

This macro shot of components on a PC graphics card was taken from a distance of 2cm and we closed the aperture to f8 to maximise the depth-of-field.

There's some geometric distortion, but overall it's an impressive result and one of the best macro facilities around.

Indoor: 5.53MB, Program, 1/50, f2.8, ISO 400, 7.3-29.2mm at 7.3mm (equivalent to 35mm)

  To test the A640's indoor performance we took this shot with the sensitivity set to 400 ISO. Auto white balance resulted in an orange cast, so we manually adjusted it to Tungsten.

The crops clearly show some noise, but there's still a high level of detail. The A640 appears to favour visible noise and detail over the smearing of aggressive noise reduction. We prefer the A640's approach as the detail's retained and you can always apply third-party noise reduction later.

Indoor: 5.75MB, Program, 1/100, f3.5, ISO 800, 7.3-29.2mm at 13mm (equivalent to 62mm)

    Here we've used the A640's maximum sensitivity of 800 ISO and it's clear to see the noise levels have dramatically increased.

While the results at 400 ISO are ok, we'd say the jump to 800 ISO is for emergency use or small prints only.

That said, we still prefer the A640's approach of avoiding overly high noise reduction. There may be lots of visible noise speckles, but also a reasonable level of detail here.

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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