Canon PowerShot S110 review - Quality

Quality

Canon PowerShot S110 vs Panasonic Lumix LX7 quality

 

To compare real-life performance when zoomed out I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot S110 and the Panasonic Lumix LX7, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; RAW results will follow on the next page.

Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. The lenses were set to their maximum wide angle focal lengths, equivalent to 24mm for both cameras.

Both cameras were set to Aperture Priority mode and tone enhancement features were left on the default settings.

  Canon PowerShot S110 results
1 Canon S110 Quality JPEG
2 Canon S110 Quality RAW
3 Canon S110 Noise JPEG
4 Canon S110 Noise RAW
5 Canon S110 Sample images

The image above was taken with the PowerShot S110 set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity manually set to 80 ISO. The S110 metered an exposure of 1/400. Also in Aperture priority mode and set to f4 with the sensitivity set to 80 ISO, the Lumix LX7 metered the same exposure.

The conditions when I took these test shots were cloudy but bright and as such not particularly demanding from an exposure point of view. All the same, the PowerShot S110 has made a good job of the exposure and the histogram stops just short of the right edge of the graph. White balance is good and the colours are well saturated and natural looking for a low contrast scene such as this.

Moving to the crops, overall there’s a good level of detail, little noticeable noise and consistency across the frame from the centre to the edges. The first crop shows a reasonable amount of detail in the chapel and the grassy foreground but the fine detail is a little indistinct. While there’s no doubt more detail here than would be recorded by a typical 1/2.3in compact sensor it falls short of what you could expect from, say a Four Thirds or APS-C sized sensor.

The second crop looks similar to the first in terms of the detail. The lighthouse is a distinct white column and the edges of the window frames in the middle ground are well defined. I’ve seen more detail in the roof tiles in crops from cameras with larger sensors, but, again, this is better than you could expect from a typical compact. The third crop from close to the frame edge shows no evidence of chromatic aberration and the detail is almost as sharp as at the centre, but there a slight coarseness to the detail that’s absent elsewhere.

Finally the last crop from close to the middle of the frame is remarkably consistent with the first two. Often you’ll see a improvement in sharpness in this crop, but if you compare the windowframes in this crop with those in the lighthouse crop you’ll see that though they are marginally crisper the difference is slight. That simply means, at the 24mm equivalent setting and at f4, the PowerShot S110’s lens produces consistent result from the centre to the frame edge.

To sum up, the lens, sensor and Digic 5 procesor in the PowerShot S110 between them produce excellent quality results that are superior to what you could expect from a typical high end compact with a 1/2.3in sensor. These crops look a little less punchy than I’m used to seeing from Canon though.

With its 10 Megapixel sensor, the crops from the Lumix LX7 show a larger area with smaller image detail. The Lumix LX7 crops look to be a little bit sharper and more detailed than those from the PowerShot S110 though. The difference is very small though, and not significant enough to influence choosing the LX7 over the S110 on quality grounds.

Check out my Canon PowerShot S110 RAW quality results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Canon PowerShot S110 Noise results.

 

Canon PowerShot S110
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO


Canon PowerShot S110
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Canon PowerShot S110 vs Panasonic Lumix LX7 RAW quality

 

To compare real-life RAW performance when zoomed out I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot S110 and the Panasonic Lumix LX7, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes.

Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. The lenses were set to their maximum wide angle focal lengths, equivalent to 24mm for both cameras.

Both cameras were set to Aperture Priority mode and tone enhancement features were left on the default settings.

  Canon PowerShot S110 results
1 Canon S110 Quality JPEG
2 Canon S110 Quality RAW
3 Canon S110 Noise JPEG
4 Canon S110 Noise RAW
5 Canon S110 Sample images

The image above was taken with the PowerShot S110 set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity manually set to 80 ISO. The S110 metered an exposure of 1/400. Also in Aperture priority mode and set to f4 with the sensitivity set to 80 ISO, the Lumix LX7 metered the same exposure.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 5500K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes.

It’s clear from these RAW files that the PowerShot S110 is resolving a lot more detail than you’re seeing from the in-camera JPEGs. With the heightened level of sharpening and the absence of noise reduction you can make out a lot more of the fine detail from the stonework in the chapel of the first crop to the brickwork and roof tiling in the last one. The question is, can you find a RAW workflow that will allow you to access that detail with a more natural level of sharpening? I think the answer is almost certainly. These results are confirmation that enthusiasts are right to want the ability to access camera RAW data from advanced compacts like the S110. The in-camera JPEG processing provides a good ‘one size fits all’ approach, but, as these crops show, there’s more to be got from the S110’s sensor if you’re prepared to tease it out.

The comparison with the RAW files from the Lumix LX7, processed in the same way is also revealing. There’s hardly any difference in the level of detail between these two sets of crops, further confirming that the slight softness of the PowerShot S110 JPEGs compared with those from the Lumix LX7 is mainly due to different processing approaches.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Canon PowerShot S110 Noise results.

 

Canon PowerShot S110 RAW
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7 RAW
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO


Canon PowerShot S110
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Canon PowerShot S110 vs Panasonic Lumix LX7 RAW quality

 
  Canon PowerShot S110 results
1 Canon S110 Quality JPEG
2 Canon S110 Quality RAW
3 Canon S110 Noise JPEG
4 Canon S110 Noise RAW
5 Canon S110 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot S110 and the Panasonic Lumix LX7, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. The lenses were set to their maximum wide angle focal lengths, equivalent to 24mm for both cameras.

Both cameras were set to Aperture Priority mode and tone enhancement features were left on the default settings.

The image above was taken with the PowerShot S110. The sensitivity was manually set to 80 ISO and the aperture set to f4. To achieve a better exposure more closely matched to the Lumix LX7, I applied 0.67EV exposure compensation on the PowerShot S110, resulting in a shutter speed of 0.8s at f4. The Lumix LX7, also manually set to 80 ISO and f4 in Aperture Priority mode metered 0.6s at f4.

I processed both sets of files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 4500K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

The first thing to say about these RAW crops from the PowerShot S110 is that even at the base 80 ISO setting there’s some noise present and, as I mentioned on the JPEG results page, it increases perceptibly from 80 to 100 ISO. By 200 ISO the colour component of the noise is also on the increase and compared to the 10 Megapixel Lumix LX7 crops the PowerShot S110 looks a little noisier.

From 400 ISO upwards though, if there is any difference in noise levels it’s fairly marginal. You can only marvel at the ability of noise reduction algorithms when you see what the 1600 ISO crop looks like with no noise reduction applied. While the in-camera JPEG processing makes a great job of things at this level and arguably at 3200 ISO, it can’t perform miracles; the 6400 and 12800 settings are revealed for what they are, more noise than image data.

I’m left wondering whether in its zeal to supress noise on JPEGs Canon hasn’t been a little too aggressive at the base ISO setting. That’s good news for RAW shooters, as I pointed out on the RAW results page, it means there’s ample scope for squeezing better image quality for 80 and 100 ISO shots. But I’m not sure I’d fancy my chances of doing better with noise suppression and squeezing more detail from these RAW files higher up the ISO sensitivity scale.

Now head over to my Canon PowerShot S110 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions, or head straight for my Verdict.

Canon PowerShot S110 RAW
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7 RAW
80 ISO
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not Available

Canon PowerShot S110 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Canon PowerShot S110 vs Panasonic Lumix LX7 Noise JPEG

 
  Canon PowerShot S110 results
1 Canon S110 Quality JPEG
2 Canon S110 Quality RAW
3 Canon S110 Noise JPEG
4 Canon S110 Noise RAW
5 Canon S110 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot S110 and the Panasonic Lumix LX7, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings. at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. The lenses were set to their maximum wide angle focal lengths, equivalent to 24mm for both cameras.

Both cameras were set to Aperture Priority mode and tone enhancement features were left on the default settings.

The image above was taken with the PowerShot S110. The sensitivity was manually set to 80 ISO and the aperture set to f4. To achieve a better exposure more closely matched to the Lumix LX7, I applied 0.67EV exposure compensation on the PowerShot S110, resulting in a shutter speed of 0.8s at f4. The Lumix LX7, also manually set to 80 ISO and f4 in Aperture Priority mode metered 0.6s at f4.

The PowerShot S110 produces a clean noise free crop at its base 80 ISO setting with a good level of image detail. While it’s often difficult to distinguish between 80 and 100 ISO settings on larger sensor models and even some compacts, there is a very slight texture creeping into the flat colour areas on the 100 ISO crop. The step up from 100 to 200 ISO brings with it a more visible increase in noise, but the overall level of detail is still good, albeit accompanied by a slight softening.

At 400 ISO the image doesn’t become noisier, there’s no increase in graininess, but the detailed is significantly softer to the extent that it’s becoming difficult to make out the text in the memorial panel. Canon’s noise processing usually strikes a balance between removing noise, but accepting a degree of graininess in order to avoid compromising image detail. With the S110 though, it appears they’ve opted for a slightly more aggressive noise reduction algorithm. Bear in mind that the S110 provides a choice of three High ISO Noise Reduction settings and these results were produced using the default Standard setting.

At 1600 ISO the text on the memorial panel is now illegible, but while the finer detail is compromised large detail isn’t and overall image quality at this sensitivity setting is reasonably good. Beyond 1600 ISO though, it’s really just a numbers game and the new 12800 ISO setting is probably two steps beyond the highest sensitivty at which any reasonable level of detail is retained. Even at reduced sizes the 6400 SIO and 12,800 ISO images look very patchy.

Compared with the results from the Panasonic Lumix LX7 there really isn’t very much to choose between these two models. With its 10 Megapixel sensor the LX7 crops show a slightly larger area with smaller image detail. At the lower sensitivities as in the outdoor test, the Lumix LX7 crops look a tiny bit sharper and more detailed. From 200 ISO up, however, there really is very little in it. The LX7 crops are slightly grainier, but less soft – the 1600 ISO shows the difference most clearly but, while they are qualitatively different you can’t say one is better than the other.

Both the Powerhot S110 and Lumix LX7 provide composite low light modes that combine a fast sequence of images at using auto exposure and ISO sensitivity settings. The Canon HandHeld NightScene and Panasonic HandHeld Night Shot composite modes crops at the bottom of the table aren’t comparable as they’re shot at differenct ISO sensitivities. Interestingly, HandHeld NightScene normally provides a superior result to the single frame result at equivalent ISO, but these crops are so soft to begin with I’m not sure the 1000 ISO HandHeld NightScene crop is any better than the 800 ISO one.

One thing these composite crops do highlight is the difference the brighter lens on the LX7 makes. It’s able to select an ISO of 400 for its composite shots where the S110 has to turn the sensitivity up to 1000 ISO. It’s also worth remembering the LX7’s brighter lens will also allow it to exploit lower ISOs than the S110 when both are zoomed-in.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Canon PowerShot S110 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Canon PowerShot S110 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Canon PowerShot S110
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7
80 ISO
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
Handheld NightScene 1000 ISO
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO

Canon PowerShot S110 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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