Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS Gordon Laing, March 2011
 

Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise
/ Handheld Night Scene

Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS vs Panasonic Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 High ISO Noise


 
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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 / ZS10 within a few moments of each other using their best-quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO settings.

The lenses were adjusted to deliver as close a field-of-view as possible. Each camera was set to Program to see how they performed with default settings; Contrast enhancers were disabled as they can introduce noise. Note: a PowerShot S95 comparison is lower on the page.

The image above was taken with the Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS at 125 ISO with an exposure of 1/2 a second and the lens set to 7mm f3.5; the original file measured 2.13MB. As stated above, we allowed each camera to automatically select its own exposure in Program mode, in order to compare how they performed under default settings.

The IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS and Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 share (C)MOS sensor technology and essentially the same sensor size, but quite different resolutions. The Canon employs a relatively modest 10 Megapixel resolution compared to 14.1 Megapixels on the Panasonic. The larger pixel-pitch of the Canon should give it an advantage in light gathering power, but the higher resolution of the Panasonic may give it an advantage in resolving power - at least at lower ISOs.

The sequence below starts at 125 ISO for the Canon and 100 ISO for the Panasonic, and while the higher resolution of the latter is delivering a slightly tighter crop, the former is visibly cleaner. Neither may be described as being artefact-free, but the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 image definitely exhibits more noticeable processing and noise artefacts at this point.

At 200 ISO, noise and processing levels have increased on the Canon, although it's still looking crisper than the Panasonic. The Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 is still showing a degree of patchiness, although on the upside it's arguably no worse than at 100 ISO.

With the sensitivity increased to 400 ISO, both cameras suffer from a drop in image quality with a softness and loss of saturation compared to lower sensitivities. Noise levels are visibly higher on both, but the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 suffers from more artefacts than the IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS.

At 800 ISO, the story continues with more noise from both cameras, but again the Canon enjoying a crisper, more detailed result. The Panasonic has become quite patchy at this point. Likewise at 1600 ISO where there's a loss of saturation and detail from both cameras, but again better noise control from the Canon.

That's the top of the ISO range at the full resolution from the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10, with higher sensitivities offered automatically at a reduced resolution in the High Sensitivity preset. Our example below was captured at 3200 ISO and 3 Megapixels. The Canon IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS does however bravely offer a 3200 ISO option at its full resolution, and while it ain't pretty, it's much preferred to the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10's 3200 ISO output at 3 Megapixels.

This comparison confirms what we suspected: the lower resolution of the IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS allows it to gather more light per pixel and enjoy a higher signal to noise ratio. This coupled with superior processing delivers better-looking results at every sensitivity when compared at 100%. Of course this isn't completely fair, as when images from both cameras are reproduced at the same physical size, the artefacts from the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 become less apparent than below. This evens things up at the lower sensitivities, but at 800 ISO and above, the Panasonic produces worse-looking output even at the same reproduction size.

The desire to equip compact cameras with ever-increasing resolutions may be driven by market demands, but it can come at the cost of image quality at higher sensitivities. It's not surprising to find Panasonic steadily increase the resolution of its super-zoom to remain numerically competitive, but we can't help but wonder what it would have looked like with a lower resolution sensor employing the latest technology.

In the meantime, the IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS may be out-featured by the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10, but enjoys an advantage in low light performance. Scroll down to see an additional comparison against the Canon PowerShot S95, who's slightly larger sensor allows it to enjoy a slightly cleaner result at 400 ISO and up. Below this we have another set of results for the IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS which you may find useful.

This isn't the end of the story though as both the IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS and Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 boast additional modes which capture a burst of images and combine them into one to reduce shake or visible noise. It's something we've seen before from Sony with impressive results, but it's the first time Canon or Panasonic has offered it. See how it performs on the Canon in our IXUS 1000 HS / SD4500 IS Handheld Night Scene results page, or if you've seen enough, skip-ahead to our sample images or verdict.


Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS
 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 / ZS10
125 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
High Sensitivity Preset (here at 3200 ISO and 3 Mpixels)
     
Low Light preset (here at 1600 ISO)
Higher sensitivities not available


Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS vs Canon PowerShot S95 High ISO Noise

Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS
 
Canon PowerShot S95
80 ISO not available
80 ISO
     
125 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
Low Light preset (here at 1600 ISO)
Low Light preset (here at 2500 ISO)



Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS High ISO Noise (different days and crops)

Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS
 
Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS
125 ISO
125 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
Low Light preset (here at 1600 ISO)
Low Light preset (here at 1600 ISO)

Canon IXUS 1000 HS / PowerShot SD4500 IS results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise
/ Handheld Night Scene


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