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Canon PowerShot SX30 IS Ken McMahon, October 2010

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS results : Real-life resolution / Sharpness mid-range / Sharpness telephoto / High ISO Noise

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS vs Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 vs Lumix FZ100 High ISO Noise

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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, the Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 and the Panasonic Lumix FZ100.

The lenses on all three cameras were set to approximate the same field of view and ISO was manually set.

The above shot was taken with the the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS in Program mode with the lens at a wide angle setting of 4.3mm (24mm). The ISO sensitivity was set to 80 and the exposure was 0.8 of a second at f2.7. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

Though it's not noise-related, we shouldn't ignore the fact that chromatic aberration in the form of a thin green halo down the right edge of the stone column continues to be a problem in these high ISO crops. Leaving that aside, the PowerShot SX30 IS demonstrates the kind of noise footprint that we've seen previously from Canon models - very little if any visible noise at the lower ISO sensitivities with the amout of noise present at each increased ISO sensitivity rising in a fairly linear fashion. On thing that isn't typical however is that there does appear to be a visible difference between the 80 and 100 ISO setting. There's a slight graininess to the wooden panelling in the 100 ISO crop that isn't there in the 80 ISO one.This is pretty marginal though, and you have to be looking for it to notice it.

Moving up the scale to 200 ISO things are still looking very good, but there is a step-change. The vertical grooves in the wood panelling aren't so clearly defined and some of the detail in the stone column is beginning to look a little smoothed. At 400 ISO there's further evidence of smoothing but despite the obvious noise reduction that's going on it isn't effective enough to prevent an emerging clumpiness. At 800 ISO we're well and truly into noise territory - even at low magnificatons in print and on screen this will look umistakeably like a high ISO shot and 1600 ISO is definitely one to save for very special situations.

Generally this is a good performance from the PowerShot SX30 IS, though we can't help but feel a little disappointed at the early onset of visible noise. By comparison, the results from the Pansonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 bear up very well. From 80 to 200 ISO there's very little to differentiate between the two sets of crops, in fact the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 100 ISO crop looks less noisy than the PwerShot SX30 IS's. At 200 and 400 ISO there are minor qualitative differences, but nothing that could be said to be better in one or the other, and so it goes all the way up to 1600 ISO.

As with our outdoor tests, the Lumix FZ100 crops are all marred by an overwhelming softness that smears away all the fine detail. Take a look at the vertical grooves in the panelling of the 100 ISO crop, they're indistinct at the top and blur away into nothing at the bottom. At 400 ISO the grooves have disappeard into a clumpy regularity - though they are still clearly visible in the PowerShot SX30 IS and Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 crops.

One thing worth noting is that all of these cameras produce a better result in their lower resolution low light scene modes than they do at the full resolution 1600 ISO sensitivity, something worth bearing in mind if image size isn't a big consideration. Here, the Lumix models have a slight advantage, producing a 3 Megapixel image measuring 2048 × 1536 pixels against a 2 Megapixel 1600 × 1200 image from the PowerShot SX30 IS. Now head over to our Canon PowerShot SX30 IS gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40
Panasonic Lumix FZ100
80 ISO
80 ISO
80 ISO Not available
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
2500 ISO (Low Light scene mode)
3200 ISO (High Sens scene mode)
3200 ISO (High Sens scene mode)

Canon PowerShot SX30 IS results : Real-life resolution / Sharpness mid-range / Sharpness telephoto / High ISO Noise

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