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Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Gordon Laing, February 2009 / updated June 2009

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS gallery

The following images were taken with the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS. Unless otherwise stated, the SX1 IS was set to Program mode with Large Superfine quality, Auto White Balance, Evaluative Metering, and with 'My Colours' switched off (the default setting for contrast, saturation and sharpening). 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 PowerShot SX10 IS sample images, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 sample images and Canon PowerShot G10 sample images.

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Landscape: 4.24MB, Program, 1/1000, f4, ISO 80, 5-100mm at 5mm (equivalent to 28mm)

  This first shot was taken with the SX1 IS under bright light at its lowest 80 ISO sensitivity and therefore represents ideal conditions.

The SX1 IS's 28mm equivalent coverage has captured a noticeably larger field of view than the S5 IS could at 36mm.

The crops are sharp and detailed, although like the SX10 IS at 80 ISO, there's already a sprinkling of very fine noise in the shadow areas - nothing to be overly concerned with though.

Again like the SX10 IS, there's a little fringing around areas of high contrast.

Landscape: 5.39MB, Program, 1/1000, f4, ISO 100, 5-100mm at 5mm (equivalent to 28mm)

  Another shot under bright light with the lens at 28mm, but now with the sensitivity at 100 ISO. This was taken virtually at ground level, where the flip-out monitor made composition much easier.

Once again there's plenty of detail, although also a slight increase in noise textures in shadows or areas of flat colour like the blue sky. There's also some fringing in high contrast areas.

Interestingly, the same scenes taken with the SX10 IS look a little punchier, but otherwise, both cameras have a very similar style.

Landscape: 4.87MB, Program, 1/500, f5.7, ISO 200, 5-100mm at 100mm (equivalent to 560mm)

    For this shot of an approaching boat we used 200 ISO and zoomed the lens to its maximum focal length. We used Servo AF to track the motion, and continuous shooting to fire-off six shots at 4fps. At this top speed, the AF pauses while shooting, but there was sufficient depth-of-field to maintain sharp focus over the 1.5 second period.

560mm pulls-in distant detail, but the increase to 200 ISO reduces fine detail. Crops from the edges also reveal fringing.

Wildlife: 3.27MB, Program, 1/800, f5.7, ISO 80, 5-100mm at 100mm (equivalent to 560mm)

  Having an equivalent of 560mm at your disposal also allows you to easily grab decent shots of nearby wildlife.

This shot was taken from pretty much the same location as the second image in this Gallery and illustrates the flexibility of the range.

A return to 80 ISO in this shot also reminds us how much better the quality is at this lowest sensitivity.

Portrait: 3.96MB, Aperture Priority, 1/320, f5, ISO 200, 5-100mm at 32mm (equivalent to 180mm)

  For this portrait we zoomed the lens to around its one-third point, working at a 180mm equivalent. Face detection was enabled, sensitivity set to 200 ISO and the flash popped open to fill-in.

The face detection locked-on, although even with a relatively long focal length and the maximum aperture, the depth of field remains quite large. For more of a blurred background, you'll need to zoom-in closer and ensure the background is really distant.

As with the earlier 200 ISO sample, the crops are fairly detailed, but exhibit textures through noise, in flat or shadow areas.

Macro: 4.97MB, Program, 1/60, f4, ISO 400, 5-100mm at 5mm (equivalent to 28mm)

  The PowerShot SX1 IS can focus down to 10cm in normal macro, or at 0cm in its Super macro mode - yes, that's right, zero cm. Here we've used the Super macro mode, which locks the lens at wide angle and positioned the camera as close as the circuitry would allow. We were actually touching some parts with the end of the barrel here.

Given the extreme nature of this mode, there's some softening and coloured fringing away from the centre. You may achieve better-corrected results (albeit not as magnified) in normal macro from a little further back.


Indoor: 4.97MB, Program, 1/60, f4, ISO 400, 5-100mm at 5mm (equivalent to 28mm)

  Our first indoor shot was taken with the SX1 IS at 400 ISO and the lens zoomed-out.

The boost in sensitivity has seen a visible increase in noise textures, again particularly in shadows or flat areas of colour. In our ISO tests, we found the SX1 IS suffered from fractionally greater noise at each sensitivity setting than the SX10 IS, but it's not a huge difference by any means.

Note: despite face detection locking-onto the subject, the camera has underexposed them. To be fair, this was without a flash though.

Indoor: 4.44MB, Program, 1/20, f2.8, ISO 800, 5-100mm at 5mm (equivalent to 28mm)

  Our second indoor was taken with the SX1 IS increased to 800 ISO. The shutter speed of 1/20 was easily stabilised by the camera.

As you'd expect, there's a significant increase in noise levels here, although again it's similar to the 100% views from the G10 and SX10 IS under roughly the same conditions if you check their galleries.

There's still a fair degree of fine detail present here, but you'd only want to use this for small prints.


Indoor: 4.05MB, Program, 1/60, f3.2, ISO 1600, 5-100mm at 5mm (equivalent to 28mm)

  Our final shot was taken with the SX1 IS at 1600 ISO, where there's a significant drop in quality.

The colours are less saturated as a whole, and viewing at 100% reveals undesirable noise and processing artefacts.

As such 1600 ISO is a step too far for the SX1 IS and should only be used for small online images or emergency situations.

The SX1 IS also offers a 3200 ISO option at 2 Megapixels, but it ain't pretty. See our High ISO Noise Results.

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

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