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Canon PowerShot A3000 IS / A3100 IS Ken McMahon, February 2010

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise


Canon PowerShot A3100 IS vs PowerShot A490 / A495 High ISO Noise


 
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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot A3100 IS and the Canon PowerShot A490 / A495. Ordinarily we would also have included the Nikon COOLPIX L22 but this wasn't possible as the L22 has no means of manually setting the ISO sensitivity.

The lenses on both cameras were set to approximate the same field of view.

The above shot was taken with the the Canon PowerShot A3100 IS in Program mode with the lens at a wide angle setting of 6.2mm (35mm). The exposure was 0.4 of a second at f2.7. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

The overall high ISO noise performance of the PowerShot A3100 IS is pretty good. Certainly the 80 and 100 ISO crops show very little, if any evidence of noise.

At 200 ISO there's a marginal change in the appearance of the crop; the detail in the wood panelling below the organ pipes is looking a little grainier. This is still perfectly acceptable though, and you'd have to look hard to spot this difference in a full-sized print.

At 400 ISO there's a more significant increase in noise in all areas of the crop . The noise is now at a level that can't be ignored and wouldn't go unnoticed even if you weren't looking for it. Although the 800 ISO shot shows another hike in the noise levels of about the same degree, the colour balance remains pretty solid. Then at 1600 ISO, as you'd expect, the noise is so intrusive as to really make this setting only an option for those must-have shots.

Unlike earlier A Series PowerShots, the A3100 IS doesn't have a 3200 High ISO scene mode. This has been replaced with a Low Light scene preset which operates at the same reduced resolution of 2 Megapixels as the old 3200 ISO mode, but with a sensitivity range of 400 to 1600 ISO, for our test image selecting the maximum 1600 ISO setting. The detail in this image is a marked improvement on the full resolution 1600 ISO setting and is definitely worth considering in low light situations where quality, rather than image size, is your priority.

Once again the comparison with PowerShot A490 / A495 makes interesting viewing. At every sensitivity setting up to and including 400 ISO, the less expensive camera produces sharper cleaner images with more detail and less noise. from 800 ISO upwards there's not much in it.

Now head over to our Canon PowerShot A3100 IS gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Canon PowerShot A3100 IS
 
Canon PowerShot A490 / A495
80 ISO
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
Low Light mode (1600 ISO at 2 Megapixels)
Low Light mode (1600 ISO at 2 Megapixels)


Canon PowerShot A3100 IS results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise



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