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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 Real-life resolution (wide)

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40, and the Panasonic Lumix FZ100 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on each camera were set to approximately the same field of view. As all three cameras have closely matched maximum wide-angle focal lengths - 24mm equiv for the PowerShot SX30 IS and 25mm equiv for the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 and FZ100, we used these settings for our wide-angle quality comparisons.

All three cameras were set to Program mode at the lowest available ISO sensitivity - 80 ISO on the PowerShot SX30 IS and Lumix FZ45 / FZ40, and 100 ISO on the Lumix FZ100.

The above image was taken with the PowerShot SX30 IS in Program mode. The lens was set to 4.3 mm (24mm equivalent) and evaluative metering selected an exposure of 1/800th of a second at f4 at an ISO setting of 80. The original 4320 × 3240 pixel image had a file size of 3.55MB.

This test image was shot in bright early autumn sunshine and poses a demanding challenge for auto exposure systems, but the PowerShot SX30 IS has coped very well. The dynamic range in the scene is a little too wide for the PowerShot SX30 IS to avoid either clipping the highlights or losing some detail in the shadows and it's opted for the former. The histogram shows all the shadow detail has been recorded but there's a spike on the right side and you can see evidence of a small amount of lost detail in the brightest highlights of the white walls. Overall though, this is a good exposure, the colour balance is within acceptable limits and the colours are well saturated and natural looking.

Now let's look at the detailed crops. The most obvious problem for the PowerShot SX30 IS is chromatic aberration. There's evidence of magenta/green fringing pretty much throughout the frame, though it gets noticeably worse towards the edges and is particularly intrusive in the third crop. There's really not a lot you can do about this other than correct it in an image editor. Sometimes reducing the aperture can help eliminate problems caused by lens aberrations, but our tests at smaller apertures showed fringing to the same extent.

Aside from the fringing, the overall image quality as seen in the crops is pretty good. Detail is well defined, edges are sharp, and the Digic 4 processor has done its job without leaving behind tell-tale evidence of digital processing. The images aren't as sharp and detailed as they might be though, and there's an overall softness which, like the fringing, gets worse as you move out to the periphery of the frame. Given the extraordinary range of the PowerShot SX30 IS zoom lens, we'd say this is a good result in image quality terms, let down only by slight softness and the degree and extent of fringing.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 comes out of a comparison with the PowerShot SX30 IS fairly well. Firstly, the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 deals with fringing much more effectively. Like its predecessors, the FZ45 / FZ40 does a good job at removing most of it in-camera for JPEGs, but even when you examine their uncorrected RAW files, they suffer from less fringing than the SX30 IS to start with. So it has less of a problem in the first place and what there is has been effectively removed by processing in-camera.

Fine detail looks a little softer and less well defined than in the PowerShot SX30 IS crops. In all four crops we'd say the PowerShot SX30 IS has the edge. Finally, there's the issue of exposure. The Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 overexposed the scene slightly resulting in blown highlights. The histogram is cut off on the right with a gap on the left, showing that a shorter exposure could have retained more of the highlights without sacrificing shadow detail.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Lumix FZ100 also lacks, for the same reasons, the purple fringing evident in the PowerShot SX30 IS crops. But if the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 crops are softer than those of the PowerShot SX30 IS, the Lumix FZ100 crops are softer still. And, like it's sibling, the Lumix FZ100 has overexposed the shot, blowing the highlight detail. Were it not for the fringing, we have no hesitation in saying the PowerShot SX30 IS crops are superior. As it is, if you had to choose between the lesser of two evils, at least the fringing can be easily dealt with in an image editor.

Wide angle performance is only part of the story though, for the full picture make sure to take a look at our mid-range resolution and telephoto resolution test pages before seeing how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

Canon PowerShot SX30IS
Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40
Panasonic Lumix FZ100
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO

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

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