Canon SX240 HS / SX260 HS review - Quality

Quality

Canon PowerShot SX240 HS vs Panasonic Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 vs Panasonic Lumix ZS20 / TZ30

 
To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX240 HS, the Panasonic Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 and the Lumix ZS20 / TZ30 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses all three cameras were set to an equivalent field of view and all were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode.

The ISO sensitivity was manually set to 100 ISO on each camera.

Note the quality you see here for the SX240 HS is identical to the SX260 HS.

  PowerShot SX240 HS results
1 PowerShot SX240 HS Quality
2 PowerShot SX240 HS Noise
3 PowerShot SX240 HS Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX240 HS. The lens was zoomed in slightly to 5.8mm to provide an equivalent field of view with the Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 and Lumix ZS20 / TZ30. To provide a fair comparison and to avoid diffraction from a small aperture setting the SX240 HS was set to Aperture priority mode and I selected an aperture of f4 which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/500. For this tripod-mounted test stabilisation was disabled and i-Contrast enhancement was set to off. The original Super Fine JPEG file was 5.21MB in size. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.

These bright overcast conditions should prove no problem for the PowerShot SX240 HS, but in fact all three cameras overexposed the scene slightly, resulting in highlight clipping. Aside from that, in overall terms the result from the SX240 HS is pretty good. As you’d expect, there’s good detail in the shadows, the colours are natural and well saturated and the white balance is good.

The first crop looks a tiny bit on the soft side, but you can see plenty of detail in the chapel and the foreground. Likewise in the second crop the windows frames aren’t the sharpest I’ve seen them, but they are well defined. The finer detail in the roof tiles isn’t as clearly defined as it might be though. Having said that, what detail there is looks natural and unprocessed and there’s no hint of noise in these crops.

On a 20x zoom lens you might expect to encounter problems at the edges and the detail in the third crop from the very edge of the frame does look a little softer than in those from nearer the middle, though there’s no hint of colour fringing caused by chromatic aberration. The final crop from close to the centre of the frame shows nicely defined edges and would probably be a little more punchy had the SX240 HS metered an exposure 1/3rd of a stop darker.

Compared with the Panasonic Lumix ZS15 / TZ25, the PowerShot SX240 HS crops actually look remarkably similar. Both cameras have a 12 Megapixel sensor and there’s very little to choose between them in terms of either the resolving power of their respective lenses or the image detail recorded by the sensor. The detail in the first crop is a little softer on the Lumix ZS15 / TZ20 and the lighthouse is less well defined – though this is more due to slight overexposure on the ZS15 / TZ25 than lens or sensor deficiencies. In the third crop the Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 has the edge for sharpness, but in the centre of the frame the edge detail is better defined by the SX240 HS. Overall I’d say the PowerShot SX240 HS produces slightly sharper results. Compared with the ZS20 / TZ30, the sharpness difference is a little more pronounced. The ZS20 / TZ30’s new 14 megapixel sensor produces noticeable softer detail than the SX240 HS with some visible noise.

See how these models compare at higher sensitivities in the SX240 HS Noise results.

 
Canon PowerShot SX240 HS
 
Panasonic Lumix ZS15 / TZ25
 
Panasonic Lumix ZS20 / TZ30
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO


Canon PowerShot SX240 HS results : Quality / Noise

Canon PowerShot SX240 HS vs Panasonic Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 vs Panasonic Lumix ZS20 / TZ30 Noise

 
  PowerShot SX240 HS results
1 PowerShot SX240 HS Quality
2 Sony PowerShot SX240 HS Noise
3 Sony PowerShot SX240 HS Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX240 HS, Panasonic Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 and the Lumix ZS20 / TZ30 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The cameras were set to f4 in Aperture priority mode, the lenses were set to the same field of view and the ISO sensitivity was set manually.

Note the quality you see here for the SX240 HS is identical to the SX260 HS.

The above shot was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX240 HS. The lens was zoomed in to 5.8mm to produce an equivalent field of view as on the Lumix ZS15 / TZ25 and ZS20 / TZ30. For these tests the camera was placed on a tripod and image stabilisation and tonal adjustments were disabled. The SX240 HS metered an exposure of 0.6 at f4 at 100 ISO.

The 100 ISO crop from the PowerShot SX240 HS is reaonably clean but it isn’t totally noise free. There’s a slight granularity to flat areas of colour (the wall) and along the egdes of the frame. In the 200 ISO crop it’s a little more pronounced, but unless you’re planning on making large prints, this isn’t something you’d ordinarily need to be worried about.

At 400 ISO the noise gets quantitatively worse and the fine detail is beginning to suffer – the text is still readable, but is starting to break up. At 800 ISO something interesting happens, which is that as well as worsening noise there’s now also evidence of the SX240 HS’s noise suppression algorithms at work. There’s some smearing of detail along with clumps of colour noise. At 1600 it’s more of the same and we’re now firmly in territory where the loss in quality would be quite noticeable even viewing at less than 100 percent. It’s great to have the option of 3200 ISO, just don’t expect to retain any fine or even too much medium detail in images shot at this upper sensitivity setting. In fact, if you want to preserve image quality in low light condition your best option would be the SX240 HS’s Handheld NightScene mode which takes a sequence of three images and produces a composite. The ISO is set automatically and in this instance selected 1600 ISO. The results are a clear improvement on the single shot 1600 ISO crop. The SX240 HS also has a reduced resolution 4 Megapixel Low Light mode.

Compared with the Lumix ZS15 / TZ25, the PowerShot SX240 HS crops stand up well, but there are some interesting qualitative differences between these two 12 Megapixel cameras, particularly at the lower ISO sensitivities. Although there’s noise visible in flat areas in the 100 ISO crop from the TZ25, it doesn’t affect fine details nearly so much and the same is true at 200 and 400 ISO. From 800 to 1600 ISO its the PowerShot SX240 HS that performs slightly better and by 3200 ISO the ZS15 / TZ25 image detail is badly broken up. Both the SX240 HS and the ZS15 / TZ25 produce cleaner crops with more detail and less noise than those from the 14 Megapixel ZS20 / TZ30 throughout the ISO sensitivity range.

Now head over to my SX240 HS sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

PowerShot SX240 HS
 
Lumix ZS15 / TZ25
 
Lumix ZS20 / TZ30
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
3200 ISO
Hand-held Night Scene 1600 ISO
Hand-held Night Scene 1250 ISO
Hand-held Night Scene 1600 ISO
Low Light 2000 ISO
Low Light 2000 ISO
Low Light 2000 ISO
Canon PowerShot SX240 HS results : Quality / Noise

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