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Canon PowerShot A800 Ken McMahon, April 2011

Canon PowerShot A800 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Canon PowerShot A800 vs Canon PowerShot A1200 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 A800, PowerShot A1200 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 A800 and PowerShot A1200 were set to Program mode and the Nikon COOLPIX L24 was set to Auto.

The ISO sensitivity on the two Powershot compacts was set to the lowest available setting - 100 ISO on the PowerShot A800 and 80 ISO on the PowerShot A1200. The Nikon COOLPIX doesn't allow manual setting of the ISO sensistivity but, in the bright sunny conditions automatically selected 80 ISO.

The above image was taken with the Canon PowerShot A800. The lens was set to its maximum wide angle setting of 6.6mm (37mm equivalent) and the metering selected an exposure of 1/200 at f9 with the sensitivity at 100 ISO. The original 3648 x 2736 pixel image had a file size of 3MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and are presented here at 100%.

Overall, the PowerShot A800 has done a great job of capturing our test scene. The exposure is spot on, colours are bright and well saturated and there is good tonal detail in the shadows and highlights. Looking at the whole image on screen at less than 100 percent view the image is crisp, clear and well detailed.

The 100 percent crops are equally impressive. The first one shows good fine detail in the chapel, you can clearly make out a couple of people outside and the crosses on the roof are nicely delineated. There's some noise visible in the blue sky but it isn't serious enough to interfere with image detail. On the second crop the lighthouse isn't as visible as it sometimes appears, but that's due to the fact that it was quite a hazy day. Despite that, the PowerShot A800 has done a pretty good job of picking out the white cylinder of the lighthouse. The detail in the foreground of this crop is also nice and sharp too, though, once again, there's a slighly granular look to the flat blue sky.

The third crop, taken from the edge of the frame is the first sign of any real trouble, there's quite pronounced purple fringing caused by chromatic aberration. It's not the end of the world, though to find it on a shot like this in a fairly low contrast area of a shot taken with the sun behind the camera and at a small aperture, does raise the chances of it occuring at wider aperture settings and when shooting into the light.

The fourth crop, from the centre of the image once again shows good sharp image details, an absence of noise and generally a very pleasing and natural looking result that betray no evidence of digital processing. The image detail might have been clearer still had the PowerShot A800 not opted for an aperture of f9, and the resulting diffraction that will have occurred as a result. At the wide angle lens setting, A800 frequently, though not always, selected small aperture settings in bright conditions. Be that as it may, it still produced very good results.

Compared with the results from the more expensive, 12.1 Megapixel PowerShot A1200, the PowerShot A800's 10 Megapixel images look even more impressive. The PowerShot A1200 crops are uniformly noisier and image detail is less well defined than in the PowerShot A800 crops. The A1200's evaluative metering has selected a wider aperture than the A800, but the edge detail looks indistinct and furry by comparison. Take a look at the wall in front of the chapel, the foreground detail in the lighthouse crop and the roof slats along the bottom edge of the fourth crop. One thing both Canon compacts have in common is the chromatic lens aberration causing purple fringing at the image edges. Overall, though, we'd say the cheaper, lower resolution PowerShot A800 is a clear winner in terms of image quality here.

It's the same story, only more so, with the crops from the Nikon COOLPIX L24. 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 A800
Canon PowerShot A1200
f9, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO
f9, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f5.5, 80 ISO

Canon PowerShot A800 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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

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