Canon PowerShot SX280 HS Gordon Laing, May 2013

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS Noise

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  Canon PowerShot SX280 HS results
1 Canon SX280 HS Quality
2 Canon SX280 HS Noise
3 Canon SX280 HS Handheld Night Scene
4 Canon SX280 HS Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS using its best quality SuperFine JPEG settings and each of its ISO settings.

I have presented results from the SX280 HS alone here, but plan on updating this and my other 2013 pocket-super-zoom reviews with side-by-side comparisons when I can get them all in the same place at the same time. In the meantime the results here are applicable to the SX270 HS which shares the same lens, sensor and image processing.

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS with the lens zoomed-in one notch from its widest setting and with the maximum aperture of f3.5. The crops below are as always taken from the area marked by the red rectangle and presented at 100%. The results here are equally applicable to the PowerShot SX270 HS which shares the same lens, sensor and image processing.

Unlike its rivals from Sony and Panasonic, Canon has sensibly resisted from pointlessly increasing the resolution with every generation, so the SX280 HS inherits the same 12 Megapixel resolution as its predecessor, albeit backed-up by the newer DIGIC 6 processor. But does it make any difference to the quality at higher sensitivities?

Starting with the lowest sensitivities of 80 and 100 ISO, the SX280 HS delivers images with plenty of detail when viewed at 100%, but there's the usual lack of crisp definition to edges that we’ve become used to on cameras with 1/2.3in sensors or thereabouts. That said, as discussed on the previous page, there's slightly less visible noise textures than the 18 Megapixel Panasonic Lumix ZS30 / TZ40 at this point.

Increasing the sensitivity to 200 ISO on the SX280 HS has a minimal impact on the quality over the 100 ISO setting. Doubling it again to 400 ISO results in a slight loss of contrast and definition with an increase in visible noise textures, but it remains a usable setting.

As is so often the case, 800 ISO is where the quality takes a noticeable fall with increased noise textures and a decrease in both contrast and edge definition. That said, you can still read the text on the poster, so it's far from unusable, especially if viewed at less than 100%. Much of that fine detail has however evaporated by 1600 ISO and this is probably as far as you'd want to go without severely compromising the image quality. Finally, the 3200 and especially the 6400 ISO settings have lost a lot of detail and are only suitable for emergency use.

Looking at my earlier results for the ZS30 / TZ40 I'd say the SX280 HS enjoys a minor edge in cleanliness at higher sensitivities, but there's not a huge difference especially if you're not looking at 100% or making huge prints. So while the Canon definitely enjoys the best quality in its peer group for pixel-peepers, you won't notice it in the vast majority or situations. But if you do like looking closely at your images or making the biggest prints, the SX280 HS will give you a small edge over the competition, albeit nowhere near what a larger sensor delivers.

Like most cameras these days, the SX280 HS also offers a composite mode which combines several images captured in quick succession in an attempt to reduce noise. You can see how this looks in practice in my Canon SX280 HS Handheld Night Scene quality page, or skip straight to my Canon SX280 HS sample images!

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
80 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS results : SX280 HS quality / SX280 HS Noise
/ SX280 HS Handheld Night Scene

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