Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS vs Sony Cyber-shot TX10 vs Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 Resolution
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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, Sony Cyber-shot TX10 and Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 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 and all three cameras were set to Program auto exposure mode.
The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting on each camera. The Canon and Panansonic were set to 100 ISO and the Sony to 125 ISO.
The image above was taken with the Canon with its lens at 4.3mm (24mm equivalent). The camera metered 1/400 at f2.8 and 100 ISO. The original image measured 3.68MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.
Overall the image from the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS looks crisp, clear and nicely detailed. In these cloudy bright conditions the exposure is accurate resulting in good tonal detail everywhere from the shadows to the white walls. The white balance is good and the colours are vivid and natural looking.
The crops back up the initial impression gained from the whole picture. Generally detail is good with very minimal noise in evidence. There’s a slight halo on the horizon where the hill meets the sky which is a result of digital processing, quite possibly a JPEG compression artifact. I can’t find anything to fault in the second crop, fine detail is well resolved and you can clearly see the lighhouse despite the atmospheric haze.
In the third crop from the frame edge there’s a little bit of colour fringing caused by chromatic aberration but the image detail is otherwise pretty good. The fourth crop from the middle of the frame is, again, hard to fault; the banner text is readable and fine detail is crisp with good edge definition.
Compared with the 16.2 Megapixel Sony Cyber-shot TX10 there’s no doubt that the 12.1 Megapixel sensor of the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS produces superior results. The Cyber-shot TX10 crops are generally softer with less of the fine detail picked out. The difference is most pronounced in the first and third crops, with the window crop looking clumpy by comparison with the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, though lacking the colour fringing problem. Overall, the Cyber-shot results are impressive for a 16 Megapixel model, but no match for the IXUS.
Crops from the 12 Megapixel Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 look soft by comparison. The FX77 / FX78 overexposed the shot marginally, which isn’t helping, but even the crops from closer to the centre of the frame look soft and lacking in detail compared with the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS. And like the IXUS, the Lumix also suffers from slight Chromatic aberration at the extreme edges of the frame.
To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, the Sony Cyber-shot TX10 and the Panasonic Lumix FX77 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 Program auto exposure mode (called Normal Picture mode on the Lumix FX77), and the lenses were set to approximately the same field of view, in this case the widest focal length setting which is roughly equivalent on all three.
The ISO sensitivity was set manually.
The above shot was taken with the the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS in Program mode. The lens was set to its default wide angle setting of 4.3mm (24mm equivalent), the sensitivity was set to 100 ISO and the exposure was 1/5th of a second at f2.0. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.
The first crop from the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS at 100 ISO provides few, if any grounds for concern. Exposure and white balance are good and there’s little evidence of noise. The wood panelling looks a tiny bit textured, but it’s nothing beyond what you’d see from most compact sensors at the base ISO setting and fine detail is clearly visible.
At 200 ISO there’s a clear difference with noise beginning to make an impact on the fine details, this is most clearly visible in the wood panelling. It is a marginally bigger quality loss than I’m used to seeing at these sensitivities from Canon compacts, but the 200 ISO crop is a pretty respectable result nonetheless. There’s a similar drop in quality going from 200 to 400 ISO and I’d say this is the upper limit for good quality shots. At 800 ISO the image detail is beginning to break up. The fine detail in the column disappeared at 400 ISO and now the edge is beginning to go too. You’ll get OK shots at 800 ISO, just don’t look too closely or print them at full size. The IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS goes all the way up to 3200 ISO, a great facility to have, but to be used only for those must-have shots where quality isn’t an issue.
Compared with the Sony Cyber-shot TX10 the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS results look sparkling. The Cyber-shot TX10’s base sensitivity setting of 125 ISO already looks quite agressively processed: there’s little fine detail to be made out in the stone column and the wood panelling looks a bit smeary. At 200 ISO the softness and smearing become worse and at 400 ISO a graininess apears. In short, the Cyber-shot TX10 starts well behind the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS and stays there all the way up the ISO range.
The Pansonic LUMIX FX77 gives the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS a much closer run. At 100 ISO there’s little to choose between these 12 Megapixel sensors, though the Lumix FX77 looks a little softer to me. Likewise there’s less detail in the wood panelling at 200 ISO – the vertical line on the right isn’t visible on the Lumix FX77 crop. I’d say the Canon has a slight edge all the way, but it’s pretty marginally and not enough on its own to swing things in the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS’s favour.
The final row compares the composite low-light mode of all three models. Each has chosen a different ISO sensitivity so the results aren’t a strict comparison except that they do show the results each camera will produce in the same circumstances. We’ve used Anti Motion Blur mode on the Cyber-shot TX10 as the Hand-held Twilight result was underexposed. Of the three, the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS appears to have produced the best result with an ISO sensitivity of 800 that’s clearly better than the straight 800 ISO crop. The Lumix result also looks good, albeit at a reduced image size of 2048 x 1536 pixels.