Canon PowerShot S100 Gordon Laing, November 2011

Canon PowerShot S100 RAW vs JPEG

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To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the PowerShot S100, I shot this scene in the camera's RAW+JPEG mode.

The sensitivity was set to the minimum 80 ISO and the aperture to f4, which I'd previously confirmed delivered the sharpest images.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using Canon's supplied Digital Photo Professional software, again using the default settings, although with an additional tweak of the Levels at the shadow end of the scale.
  Canon S100 results
1 Canon S100 Resolution
2 Canon S100 RAW vs JPEG
3 Canon S100 Noise vs S95
4 Canon S100 Noise vs V1 vs G3
5 Canon S100 Noise Reduction
6 Canon S100 Handheld Night Scene
7 Canon S100 Sample images

On the previous page we saw how the Canon PowerShot S100 delivers fairly soft-looking JPEGs using the in-camera defaults. On this page I wanted to show what you can achieve with RAW files, in particular with a boost in sharpening and contrast.

As luck would have it, Canon's Digital Photo Professional was already applying a higher level of sharpening and contrast by default, delivering a punchier-looking image, but to really illustrate the effect, I additionally tweaked the Levels so there were tonal values present at 0.

It's immediately clear how the RAW crops in the right column below look much punchier than the in-camera JPEG crops on the left. The second crop on the right side is arguably over-sharpened and is suffering from some artefacts when viewed at 100%, but the other three are generally preferrable over the in-camera JPEGs.

As always, your mileage will vary depending on the scene, the settings and even the RAW converter itself. But the ability to shoot in RAW gives the S100 a key advantage over cameras which only record JPEGs. Not only can you easily make all manner of adjustments from white balance to sharpness and noise reduction, but you can also dictate the level of compression (if any at all) when exporting the file at the end of the process.

Additionally RAW files generally include a higher tonal dynamic range to work with, which often allows you to retrieve detail previously lost in the highlight areas. I tried this with several RAW files on the S100 and found there was indeed some exposure latitude available, but as you'd expect it wasn't to the same degree as a camera with a bigger sensor. For example, the areas of this image which are saturated white, such as the snow and rooftops, remained purely white regardless of any adjustments to the RAW processing.

Now let's move onto the performance across the sensitivity range in my Canon S100 noise results. Alternatively skip to my S100 sample images or straight to the S100 verdict.


Canon PowerShot S100
(JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Canon PowerShot S100
(RAW using DPP defaults + levels)
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO

Canon S100 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise vs S95
/ Noise vs V1 / Noise Reduction / Handheld Night Scene

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