Canon PowerShot A3100 IS Review

4.0
March 22, 2010 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.

The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS produced images of good quality during the review period. The 12 megapixel sensor produces noise-free images at ISO 80 - 200. ISO 400 exhibits some visible noise and loss of fine detail, and ISO 800 and 1600 are even noisier, softer and suffer from colour desaturation.

The A3100 IS dealt extremely well with chromatic aberrations, with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate exposure. The night photograph was good, with the maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds allowing you to capture enough light in most situations.

Anti-shake works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. Macro performance is good, allowing you to focus as close as 3cms away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon Powershot A3100 IS. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default setting ideally and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes via the My Colors menu option.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Focal Range

The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS's 4x zoom lens provides a focal length of 35-140mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

35mm

140mm

File Quality

The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M Fine (2.8Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Normal (1.2Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon Powershot A3100 IS handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Canon Powershot A3100 IS offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 3cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Canon Powershot A3100 IS are Auto, Flash On, Slow Synchro, and Flash Off, with Red-eye Correction and Red-Eye Lamp settings available via the Flash Settings main menu option. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (35mm)

Auto Flash - Wide Angle (35mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Auto Flash - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-Eye Correction option caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)

Night Shot

The Canon Powershot A3100 IS's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds in the Long Shutter mode, which is good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 10 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 10 second setting the actual exposure takes 20 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Canon Powershot A3100 IS has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/15th / 35mm
1/8th / 140mm

My Colors

The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS offers 5 My Color preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images, and you can also create your own Custom Color.

Off

Vivid

   

Neutral

Sepia

   

B/W

 
 

Entry Tags

compact, review, 12 megapixel, beginner, video, 2.7 inch LCD, canon, 4x zoom, movies, powershot, VGA, Canon PowerShot A3100 IS, a3100

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