Canon PowerShot SX150 IS - Quality

Quality

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS vs IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS vs IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS Resolution

 

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, the Canon IXUS 220 HS/ELPH300 HS and the Canon IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS 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, 80 ISO on the PowerShot SX150 IS and 100 ISO on both IXUS models.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS
1PowerShot SX150 IS Resolution
2PowerShot SX150 IS Noise
3PowerShot SX150 IS Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS. The lens was set to its 5mm (28mm equivalent) maximum wide angle focal length. In Program auto exposure mode the camera metered an exposure of 1/400th of a second at f3.4 at 80 ISO. The original image size was 3.75MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.

In these cloudy bright conditions our test scene doesn’t pose any major challenges in terms of exposure or white balance and the PowerShot SX150 IS makes a good job of both. The crops show a good level of detail which is pretty consitent across the frame. The outline of the chapel in the first crop is clean and there’s a good level of detail in the grass and rocks in the foreground. In the lighthouse crop the detail in the far distance looks a little bit clumpy, particularly along the line where the cliffs meet the sky.This could be processing or jpeg compression, or both, either way it’s not a massive problem.

The third crop has quite noticeable colour fringing caused by chromatic lens aberration. As well as this crop area it’s predominant in the edge regions down both sides of the frame. While it’s not severe, the conditions in this test scene aren’t the kind to draw it out and in high contrast and backlit scenes it’s likely to be worse. So it’s something you’re going to have to live with, but it’s worth pointing out that you’re only ever likely to spot it at close to 100 percent view. The final crop from the centre of the frame again shows generally well resolved edge and fine detail, but has a slight texture that obscures the smallest details like the roof tiles and brick work. If you compare those details in this crop with the same kinds of detail in the lighthouse crop, you’ll notice that the lens produces sharper results in the middle of the frame. This difference might be slighly less pronounced at less than the widest aperture setting, which all the canon models opted for in Program auto mode despite it being quite a bright day necessitating quite a fast shutter speed. At least with the PowerShot SX150’s PASM modes you have the option to take control and choose a slightly smaller aperture should you wish.

Compared with the IXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS, the PowerShot SX150 IS results are marginally inferior. Looking at the first crop there’s little qualitative difference, but in each of the remaining three crops the 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor of the IXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS produces clearer detail with less overall noise. Another factor in the IXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS’ favour is that it 5X zoom lens isn’t as prone to chromatic aberration.

Compared with the IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS, the results are less conclusive. Like the UXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS, the IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS resolves detail better, but has other problems not the least of which is some quite severe fringing on the first two crops.

Now let’s see how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

PowerShot SX150 IS
IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS
IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS
f3.4, 80 ISO
f3.2 100 ISO
f3 100 ISO
f3.4, 80 ISO
f3.2 100 ISO
f3 100 ISO
f3.4, 80 ISO
f3.2 100 ISO
f3 100 ISO
f3.4, 80 ISO
f3.2 100 ISO
f3 100 ISO

 


Canon PowerShot SX150 IS results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise
 

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS vs IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS vs IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS Noise

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Canon PowerShot SX150 IS
1PowerShot SX150 IS Resolution
2PowerShot SX150 IS Noise
3PowerShot SX150 IS Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, IXUS 220 HS/ELPH300 HS and IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS within a few moments of each other at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.All three cameras were set to Program auto exposure mode and the lenses were set to approximately the same field of view. The ISO sensitivity was set manually.

 

The above shot was taken with the the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS in Program auto mode. The lens was set to its widest angle 5mm (28mm equivalent) focal length, the sensitivity set to 80 ISO and the exposure was one second at f3.4. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

The first crop shows the PowerShot SX150 IS at its base ISO setting and is slightly underexposed as a result of the 1 second shutter speed limit in Program auto mode. Despite that, you can see good detail in the column on the left, but the wood panelling on the right shows a surprising degree of graininess. On the 100 ISO crop, which received the same exposure the detail is more visible and so is the graininess. The caveat here is that while this may be visible on these 100 percent crops, at smaller magnifications at which photos are more usually viewed and printed, this isn’t going to be a problem.

Move up to 200 ISO and the noise goes up a notch. Now you can’t help but notice the blotchiness and it’s beginning to break into the larger image detail – the grooves between the wood panels are beginning to break up. At 400 ISO it’s another step change and this is really the top end for what I’d consider acceptable image quality at any size. The step from 800 to 1600 ISO is another watershed and what you may not be able to see in this final crop in the sequence is the green colour cast that has also crept in.

The story here is that the PowerShot SX150’s 14.1 Megapixel CCD sensor starts off with slight visible evidence of noise which then gets progressively worse in quite large steps as you move up the sensitivity scale. If you want relatively noise-free shots from the SX150 IS you’d be advised to stick to the 80 and 100 ISO sensitivites.

Compared with the IXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS and IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS, both of which share the same 12.1 Megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, the PowerShot SX150 IS’ performance looks a little underwhelming. To begin with the PowerShot SX150 100 ISO crop compares very favourably with the crops from the IXUS models and in fact is slightly crisper with better detail. But the CMOS sensors in the IXUS/ELPH models handle increasing ISO sensitivity much better, showing less degradation at each stage with the result that by 400 ISO there’s a clear margin in their favour. By 800 ISO the IXUS/ELPH crops are still looking reasonably good where the PowerShot SX150 800 ISO crop is a mass of noisy pixels. The bottom line is that you can shoot with confidence with the IXUS/ELPH models all the way up to 800 ISO and even beyond. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the PowerShot SX150 IS.

All three models offer a low light mode. On the PowerShot SX150 Is the resolution is 2 Megapixels and on the IXUS/ELPH models it’s 3 Megapixels. As you can see from the crops, as well as higher resolution the IXUS crops show much better detail with significantly less noise. They also offer a Best Image Selection mode which shoots five shots and chooses the best one. For more details of that see our upcoming IXUS 220 HS/ELPH 300 HS and IXUS 230 HS/ELPH 310 HS reviews.

Now head over to our Canon PowerShot SX150 IS gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

 

PowerShot SX150 IS
IXUS 220 HS / ELPH 300 HS
IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS
80 ISO
80 ISO Not available
80 ISO Not available
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 Not available
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
Low Light 2500 ISO
Low Light 2000 ISO
Low Light 2000 ISO
Best Image Selection 2000 ISO
Best Image Selection 2000 ISO

 

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise 

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