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Canon PowerShot A1200 Ken McMahon, May 2011
 

Canon PowerShot A1200 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise


Canon PowerShot A1200 vs Canon PowerShot A800 vs Nikon COOLPIX L24 Real-life resolution

 
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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot A1200, the Canon PowerShot A800 and the Nikon COOLPIX L24 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on each camera were set to approximately the same field of view, the PowerShot A1200 and PowerShot A800 were set to Program mode and the Nikon COOLPIX L24 was set to Auto.

The above image was taken with the Canon PowerShot A1200. The lens was zoomed to a focal length of 7.4mm (41mm equivalent) to provide a comparable field of view with the PowerShot A800 and Nikon COOLPIX L24. The metering selected an exposure of 1/1000 at f3.5 with the sensitivity at 80 ISO. The original 4000 x 3000 pixel image had a file size of 3.12MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and are presented here at 100%. The ISO sensitivity on the two PowerShot compacts was set to the lowest available setting - 80 ISO on the PowerShot A1200 and 100 ISO on the PowerShot A800. The Nikon COOLPIX doesn't allow manual setting of the ISO sensistivity but, in the bright sunny conditions automatically selected 80 ISO.

Overall, a nice result from the PowerShot A1200 in Program mode. The exposure is good, the histogram shows slight clipping on the right side due to the wide tonal range in the scene, but there's good detail in the highlights and the foreground shadows aren't filled in. Overall contrast is good and the colours are vibrant with good white balance though it's possibly a little on the blue side for some people's taste.

The crops show an equally positive picture, but close examination reveals some aspects of the PowerShot A1200's image quality that are less than optimal. Firstly, there's quite a lot of noise in areas of flat colour. The sky in the first crop and and the sky and sea area in the top half of the second crop look visibly grainy. It's not just a problem in flat areas of colour, image detail is suffering as a result; the detail in the chapel walls, the crosses on the roof and the windows in the foreground of the lighthouse crop all look a little fuzzy and indistinct.

In the third crop from close to the frame edge there's a slight amount of purple fringing caused by Chromatic aberration, had the PowerShot A1200's metering opted for a slighly smaller aperture this may not have occurred. Lastly, the crop from the centre of the frame is consistent with the results from elsewhere, with the overall pattern of noise slightly obscuring finer image detail like the lettering on the banners and the aerial and roof struts in the bottom of the frame.

By comparison, the crops from the PowerShot A800 look significantly better. Like the PowerShot A1200, the A800 also suffers a little from noise. It's visible in the sea and sky, but it's not quite as intrusive as on the A1200 crops and, crucially, it isn't affecting the fine image detail which in all four crops is cleaner, sharper and more detailed than on the PowerShot A1200. It's interesting that the A1200 metering chose an aperture of f3.5 (the largest available at this focal length), whereas the A800, also in Program mode, selected f9. Somewhere in the middle of those two probably would have produced better results from the lens, though it would have done nothing to alleviate the noise.

The Nikon COOLPIX L24's metering made a more judicious choice of aperture, but the results are nonetheless quite disappointing. The COOLPIX crops look, it has to be said, pretty clumpy. There's a high degree of noise present in all the crops and you don't have to look hard, at least not with these 100 percent crops, to see it. If this is what happens when you attempt to produce a budget 14 Megapixel compact, we'd prefer to see Nikon stick with lower resolution sensors for its budget models.

Now let's see how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

 


Canon PowerShot A1200
 
Canon PowerShot A800
 
Nikon COOLPIX L24
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO


Canon PowerShot A1200 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise



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