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Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS / PowerShot SD990 IS Digital ELPH Gordon Laing, August 2009

Canon IXUS 980 IS / PowerShot SD990 IS Gallery

The following images were taken with a Canon IXUS 980 IS / PowerShot SD990 IS. The IXUS 980 IS / SD990 IS was set to Large Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance and Evaluative metering. Image Stabilisation was enabled for all these handheld images.

The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS4 as JPEGs with the Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS4 and saved with the default High quality preset.

The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Note: you may wish to open a number of galleries for direct comparison of detail and noise: Canon IXUS 100 IS / PowerShot SD780 IS sample images, Canon IXUS 870 IS / PowerShot SD 880IS sample images, and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 / ZS3 sample images.

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Landscape: 3.33MB, Program, 1/400, f8, 80 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 7.7mm (36mm equivalent)

  This first shot was taken with the IXUS 980 IS / SD990 IS zoomed-out and set to its lowest 80 ISO sensitivity. With a widest equivalent of 36mm, you’ll need to stand back much further than models with 28mm coverage.

Under these bright conditions it represents a best-case scenario, and the crops from well-corrected areas are certainly sharp and detailed, with only a faint smattering of noise in shadow areas, although the image becomes softer in the corners.

Despite the high-contrast subject, there's no fringing to mention.


Landscape: 6.46MB, Program, 1/250, f8, 100 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 7.7mm (36mm equivalent)

  Another shot taken under bright light with the lens zoomed-out and the sensitivity nudged up to 100 ISO.

The slight increase in sensitivity hasn’t had much detrimental effect here, although the fine detail in the branches shows-up the softness in the corners of the image.

Where the image is well-corrected though, there’s plenty of fine detail, and so far there’s no coloured fringing to complain about.


Landscape: 4.53MB, Program, 1/1600, f5.8, 200 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 28.5mm (133mm equivalent)

    For this shot of an approaching boat we zoomed in, set the camera to 200 ISO with Continuous shooting and enabled Servo AF for tracking. This is the last image of eight which were all sharp, although the maximum shooting rate is a modest 1.3fps.

Optically the camera performs well when zoomed-in without the softening in the corners seen at ‘wide’ angle. The increase to 200 ISO has however resulted in greater noise levels and a softening of ultimate detail.


Portrait: 3.29MB, Program, 1/500, f5.8, 200 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 28.5mm (133mm equivalent)

  For this portrait we kept the lens zoomed-in and the sensitivity at 200 ISO. The default Face Detection tracked the subject with ease. The crops of the subject are sharp, although like the sample above, there's visible noise appearing in flat colour or shadow areas and a lack of crispness to edges.

The camera has a manual mode, but selected its maximum aperture here in Program anyway, so what you’re seeing here is the minimum depth-of-field. Viewed at 100%, the background is a little blurred, but like other compacts it’s nothing like a DSLR.


Macro: 4.64MB, Program, 1/60, f2.8, 400 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 7.7mm (36mm equivalent)

  This shot was taken at the Canon's closest focusing distance of 5cm with the lens fully zoomed-out. As always, we increased the sensitivity to 400 ISO for this shot.

A large portion of the image is in fairly sharp focus, allowing us to grab a variety of sharp crops, and again despite some high contrast areas, there’s no coloured fringing to complain about.

The boost to 400 ISO has further softened edges, but this subject matter is fairly forgiving.


Indoor: 4.03MB, Program, 1/80, f2.8, 400 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 7.7mm (36mm equivalent)

  Our first indoor shot was taken with the Canon set to 400 ISO and zoomed-out. The default Face Detection AF mode once again locked-onto the subject with no problems.

Despite recognising the subject though, the camera has underexposed this part of the image.

This underexposure has also made the increase in noise levels more obvious than it could have been, but even then like most compacts, 400 ISO is step too far for large prints or 100% scrutiny.


Indoor: 4.62MB, Program, 1/10, f2.8, 800 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 7.7mm (36mm equivalent)

  Our second indoor was taken with the Canon increased to 800 ISO. The camera's stabilisation had no problems with a 1/10 exposure here, and in our tests offered over three stops of compensation.

As you'd expect, there's another increase in noise levels, and as you’d expect, it’s visibly higher at this point than Canon’s lower resolution models.

But a sensible hands-off approach to NR means there’s still detail here, making 800 ISO ok for small prints.



Indoor: 4.68MB, Program, 1/80, f2.8, 1600 ISO, 7.7-28.5mm at 7.7mm (36mm equivalent)

  Our final shot was taken with the Canon at 1600 ISO, and unsurprisingly noise levels have become noticeably worse.

Interestingly though, Canon has opted for less NR than previous models, avoiding smearing, with arguably preferable results. 1600 ISO is still best-reserved for email or very small prints though.

The Canon then goes onto offer a 3200 ISO option as a Scene Preset, albeit at a greatly reduced resolution of 2 Megapixels. You can see a sample of it and other sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results page.

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

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