Canon ELPH 340 / IXUS 265 review - Quality

Quality

Canon IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS vs Lumix SZ8 vs Sony WX350

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the the Canon IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, the Panasonic Lumix SZ8 and the Sony Cyber-shot WX350 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

All three cameras were set to their maximum wide angle setting. At 24mm the Lumix SZ8 goes a tiny bit wider than the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, and the Sony WX350, but in practice the difference is very small and it proved impossible to zoom the SZ8 in by such a small amount. All three cameras were set to Program auto mode.

For this test the cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS. The camera was set to Program Auto mode and with the sensitivity manually set to the base 100 ISO setting the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS selected an exposure of 1/1250 at f3.6. The Lumix SZ8 also set to its base 100 ISO sensitivity metered 1/250 at f7.8 and the Sony WX350 metered 1/1250 at f3.5 and 80 ISO. As usual the crops are taken from the areas marked in red above.

Though the first crop from the Canon is a little soft, overall the results show a good level of detail with sharp edges. You can’t really see much detail in the bottom of this first crop, though and the white verticals of the window frames look a little indistinct.

The second crop from closer to the centre of the frame is a big improvement though and gives a much better idea of the level of detail produced by the sensor. With this crop a good test is to see if you can tell the time on the clock. It’s a little indistinct, but looks to me like its four o’clock. Having made my guess I checked the EXIF data and it revealed the shot was made at four minutes to four – not bad!

The lighthouse crop is also pretty impressive; you can just about make out the separate lamp room atop the white cylinder, that’s rarely the case with compact sensors, but to be fair a bright, haze-free day helps. In the fourth crop from close to the right edge of the frame we’re back to the slight fuzziness. As I said, good result overall for the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS though.

Compared with the crops from the Lumix SZ8 the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS comes out looking even more impressive. The first crop from the SZ8 is a lot softer, you could legitimately call it blurry. As with the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, the Lumix SZ8 lens does a much better job in the centre of the frame, but there’s not as much detail. While there’s no doubt you need to be looking at 100 percent crops to see it, the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS lens and sensor combination produces sharper more detailed images than the Lumix SZ8.

The Sony WX350 has a higher resolution 18.2 megapixel sensor that produces a slightly smaller crop area with correspondingly larger detail, but on the evidence of the first crop at least there’s isn’t more detail resolved. The IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS looks a little sharper. In the two crops taken from the middle of the frame, though, the WX350 improves dramatically. Here it’s at least as good as the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, but can you see more detail? I don’t think so.

Scroll down the page to see how these models compare when zoomed in to 120mm, and 300mm equivalent focal lengths, or to see how they compare at higher sensitivities check out my Canon IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS noise results.

IXUS 256 HS / ELPH 340 HS
Lumix SZ8
Sony WX350
f3.6, 100 ISO
f7.8, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.6, 100 ISO
f7.8, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.6, 100 ISO
f7.8, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.6, 100 ISO
f7.8, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO

IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS vs Lumix SZ8 vs Sony WX350 JPEG quality at approx 120mm

For this next test I zoomed all three cameras in to an equivalent focal length of around 120mm. As before the cameras were set to Program auto mode where they each selected the same f5 aperture

At this middling focal length, the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS performs much the same as it does at its maximum wide angle. There’s a slight degradation in quality at the edge of the frame compared with the middle and its worse on the left hand side than the right. In the middle of the frame there’s a good level of detail and things look nice and sharp

The other similarity is that the first crop from the Lumix SZ8 is comparitively soft and blurry, only this time it looks a little worse than at 24mm. As before, the Lumix SZ8 improves significantly in the middle of the frame to produce a much cleaner result though not quite as detailed as the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS.

The Sony WX350 gets off to a great start at this focal length with a nice sharp crop from the edge of the frame, but there’s a slight clumpiness to the Sony crops which is obscuring the finer detail. Where the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS and Sony WX350 were neck and neck at the wide angle setting, here the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS definitely has the edge.

IXUS 256 HS / ELPH 340 HS
Lumix SZ8
Sony WX350
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f5, 80 ISO

IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS vs Lumix SZ8 vs Sony WX350 JPEG Quality at approx 300mm

For this final test I zoomed the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS in to its maximum 300mm focal length. The Lumix SZ8 was also zoomed to its maximum – a tad shorter at at 288m and the Sony WX350 was zoomed in to match the same angle of view. As before, all three cameras were set to program auto mode and the crops are indicated by the red rectangles opposite.

As a quick glance at these crops will reveal, there’s a loss of finer detail which produces an impressionistic result. This affects all three models to a similar degree and is most likely a result of atmospheric factors as much as lens and sensor performance.

That said, it’s clear that the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS produces a cleaner and more detailed result than the Lumix SZ8 which is soft and lacking in contrast. The sony WX350 on the other has has produced quite punchy detailed crops which I think, at least in the centre of the frame, show a little more detail than those from the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS. It’s also worth pointing out that the Sony WX350 still has a way to go before reaching its maximum 500mm equivalent focal length. Now check out my Canon IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS noise results.

IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS
Lumix SZ8
Sony WX350
f7, 100 ISO
f6.3, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f7, 100 ISO
f6.3, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f7 100 ISO
f6.3, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f7, 100 ISO
f6.3, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO


Canon IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS vs Lumix SZ8 vs Sony WX350 noise

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, the Panasonic Lumix SZ8 and the Sony Cyber-shot WX350 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

All three cameras were set to their maximum wide angle setting. At 24mm the Lumix SZ8 goes a tiny bit wider than the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, and the Sony WX350, but in practice the difference is very small and it proved impossible to zoom the SZ8 in by such a small amount. All three cameras were set to Program auto mode. For this test the cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled.

The image above was taken with the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS set to Program Auto mode and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting it metered a shutter speed of 1/5 at f3.6. Also at 100 ISO the Lumix SZ8 metered 1/6 at f3.1 and the Sony WX350, at its base 80 ISO sensitivity, metered 1/6 at f3.5.

The base 100 ISO crop from the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS isn’t noise free, in fact you can see quite a visible grainy texture both in the flat wall area surrounding the memorial plaque and within the text panel. The grain is quite fine and relatively unobtrusive, but it is getting in the way of the very finest detail.

You’d only see this at 100 percent viewing sizes, but its presence at the base ISO setting is usually a sign of trouble in the foothills of the sensitivity range. Sure enough, at 200 ISO the noise textures are a little more intrusive and by 400 ISO things are looking distinctly scroffy.

800 ISO is the upper limit for full size prints, and might even be beyond it. 1600 ISO is the point at which it’s getting hard to tell the noise from the image data, but at smaller sizes even 3200 ISO, believe it or not, looks passable with good contrast and colour saturation.

The Lumix SZ8 has the same 16 Megapixel sensor resolution as the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS and its base 100 ISO crop looks softer, but no noisier. At 200 ISO there’s a little bit of smeariness creeping in, though, and by 400 ISO there’s visibly less detail. Either the Lumix SZ8’s CCD sensor is generating more noise, or the noise supression isn’t so effective at dealing with it, or both. The 800 ISO crop is also worse than the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS for the same reason, but by 1600 ISO both sensors are producing so much noise it makes little difference.

The crops from the 18.2 Megapixel Sony WX350 show a smaller area with larger detail. Though the visual quality is different, the Sony WX350 crops are smoother and less grainy, I don’t think the Sony is more or less noisy than the IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS, and there’s about the same level of detail.

Lastly just to note that the Lumix SZ8 tops out at 1600 ISO where the Sony and Canon go one step beyond to 3200 ISO. The IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS and Cyber-shot WX350 also have low light composite modes. The IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS’s Handheld NightScene mode sets the ISO automatically, here I’ve included a crop from the test scene shot where it selected 1250 ISO. The WX350’s Multi Frame Noise Reduction is more versatile, allowing you to manually set the sensitivity, but as the 1600 ISO example shows, it’s not necessarily better in terms of quality.

Now you can check out my IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions, or head straight for my verdict.

IXUS 265 HS / ELPH 340 HS
Lumix SZ8
Sony WX350
80 ISO Not available
80 ISO Not available
80 ISO
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
3200 ISO
3200 ISO Not available
3200 ISO
1250 ISO Handheld Nightscene
Not available
1600 ISO MFNR
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