Canon PowerShot D20 review - Quality

Quality

Canon D20 vs Panasonic TS20 / FT20

 
To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the the Canon PowerShot D20 and the Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on both cameras were set to an equivalent field of view and both were set to Program auto exposure mode.

The ISO sensitivity was set manually on both cameras to the base sensitivity setting of 100 ISO.

  Canon PowerShot D20 results
1 Canon D20 Quality
2 Canon D20 Noise
3 Canon D20 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot D20. The lens was set to the maximum 28mm wide angle position and the Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20 with which I’ve compared it here was zoomed in slightly to give an equivalent field of view. In Program auto mode the camera metered an exposure of 1/640 at f3.9. The original JPEG image size was 3.08MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%. Image stabilisation was disabled for these tripod-based tests.

Overall, the Canon PowerShot D20 has produced a very good result here. On this particular day the conditions were bright with some cloud about and the PowerShot D20 has metered the exposure accurately with a histogram that stops just short of the highlight end of the range. There’s a small gap at the left end of the histogram and the shot looks a little flat, but that’s easily fixed in an image editor.

Moving on to the crops, the level of detail overall is surprisingly good for a camera that’s designed for use in the water. The first crop shows a reasonable level of detail in the chapel, but the grassy hill in the foreground is a little indistinct. On the second crop the lighthouse is a distinct white column and you can just about make out the separate white blob of the lamphouse on top. There’s some texture in the distant cliffs and sea and sky in this crop and the foreground detail looks a little soft, but despite that the window frames are clear and the white edges reasonably sharp.

Detail in the third crop from the frame edge is considerably softer than in the centre and there’s some colour fringing on the drainpipe and vertical window frame. The PowerShot D20’s lens clearly doesn’t perform consistently across the frame and this is backed up by the fourth crop – close to the centre of the frame edges look a lot sharper and fine detail is much better resolved.

Overall, this is an excellent result and the PowerShot D20 results are certainly in the same league as those from similarly priced compacts. If you needed reassuring that a waterproof compact can perform as well as a conventional one, this is it.

Compared with the Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20, The Powershot D20 crops show a larger area with smaller detail because of the difference in sensor reolution. The Lumix TS20 / FT20’s 16.1 Megapixel sensor produces images that are 4608 x 3456 compared with 4000 x 3000 pixel images from the PowerShot D20. The other difference is that the Lumix TS20 / FT20 crops look more aggressively processed. The Lumix TS20 / FT20 crops are more contrasty with sharper edges, but they’re noisier too. If there is more actual image detail in there I’d say it’s fairly marginal. The Lumix TS20 / FT20’s lens is more consistent though, and it doesn’t suffer from chromatic aberration to the same degree as the D20, or if it does, it’s been dealt with in the processing.

To see how these models compare at higher sensitivities check out my Canon D20 noise results.

 
Canon PowerShot D20
 
Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4.2, 100 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4.2, 100 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4.2, 100 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4.2, 100 ISO


Canon PowerShot D20 results : Quality / Noise

Canon D20 vs Panasonic TS20 / FT20 Noise

 
  Canon PowerShot D20 results
1 Canon D20 Quality
2 Canon D20 Noise
3 Canon D20 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot D20 and the Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20 within a few moments of each other using their highest resolution JPEG mode at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The cameras were set to Program Auto exposure mode, the lenses were set to the same field of view and the ISO sensitivity was set manually.

The above shot was taken with the Canon PowerShot D20. The lens was set to the maximum 28mm wide angle position and the Lumix TS20 / FT20, with which I’ve compared it here, was zoomed in slightly to give an equivalent field of view. Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test. In Program Auto mode the PowerShot D20 chose an exposure of 0.4s at f3.9 at 100 ISO.

At the base 100 ISO setting the crop from the PowerShot D20 looks reasonably clean and well detailed but it’s not by any means noise free. You don’t have to look too hard to see a granular texture that’s visible pretty much everywhere, not just in the areas of flat colour on the wall, but on the memorial plaque itself. Even at the base ISO setting, the noise is intererfering with the finer detail and the text isn’t as readable as it could be.

At 200 ISO, as you’d expect, the noise gets worse, but because there’s already significant noise at 100 ISO, at 200 it’s fast becoming a cause for concern. And at 400 ISO it’s becoming quite severe. On compacts with good noise performance you can switch between the lower ISO settings in confidence that, even at close to 100 percent viewing sizes, the quality will be close to the best the camera can produce. You can’t say that about the PowerShot D20, though, and I’d think carefully before nudging it off the base ISO setting.

At 800 ISO the noise is severe enough to render the memorial text almost unreadable, this is a dip in quality you’ll begin to notice even at smaller sizes and by the 1600 ISO setting we’re into territory reserved for those must-have shots. It’s nice to have the full-resolution 3200 ISO option on the ISO range, rather than as a lower resolution scene mode as on the PowerShot D10 and the Lumix TS20 / FT20 but, even more so than 1600 ISO, this one is best held in reserve for real emergencies.

Compared with the results form the Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20, the PowerShot D20 crops show a larger area with smaller detail because of the different sensor resolutions – 12.1 Megapixels on the D20 compared with 16.1 on the TS20 / FT20. Another difference woth noting is that the D20 has a CMOS sensor whereas the Lumix TS20 / FT20 has a CCD. Both of these factors would lead you to expect superior noise performance from the PowerShot D20. Well, I’d say the D20 does have the edge here, but it’s pretty marginal and it only really makes a difference at the higher ISO sensitivities. Up to 400 ISO there’s actually very little to choose between these two models. At 800 ISO, the TS20 / FT20 crop is a little softer but has cleaner edges than the D20. The PowerShot D20 1600 ISO crop is better than the TS20 / FT20’s, though, and it can produce a full resolution 3200 ISO image compared with the reduced resolution 3.1 Megapixel option on the FT20.

So, a win for the PowerShot D20, but not by as much of a margin as you might have expected.

Now head over to my Canon D20 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Canon PowerShot D20
 
Panasonic Lumix TS20 / FT20
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO

Canon PowerShot D20 results : Quality / Noise

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