Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Review

4.0
September 8, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3.5Mb.

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS produced images of above average quality during the review period. The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS's main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with ISO 400 showing some noise, blurring of detail and slight colour desaturation. The noise and loss of detail get progressively worse as you go from ISO 800 to the fastest 1600 setting.

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS handled chromatic aberrations quite well with some purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 12 megapixel images were just a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and either require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you should increase the in-camera sharpening level.

The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds allowing you to capture enough light for most situations. Macro performance is a stand-out highlight, allowing you to focus as close as 0cms away from the subject, although there is a lot of lens distortion and shadowing at such a close distance. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. Anti-shake is a feature that sets this camera apart from its competitors and one that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon PowerShot SX20 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)

Focal Range

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS's 20x zoom lens has a massive focal range, as illustrated by these examples:

28mm

560mm

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 sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS handled chromatic aberrations quite well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS allows you to focus on a subject that is just 0cms away from the camera. 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 SX20 IS are Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Sync Speed and Red-eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (560mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (560mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Canon Powershot SX20 IS's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Canon Powershot SX20 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)
1/4th sec / 70mm
1/4th sec / 70mm
     

iContrast

DRO is Canon's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light. The selectable settings are Off and On. The examples show the effect of the different settings.

Off

On

My Colors

The Canon Powershot SX20 IS offers 10 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

   

BW

Positive Film

   

Lighter Skin Tone

Darker Skin Tone

   

Vivid Blue

Vivid Red

   

Vivid Green

 
 

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, compact, 720p, 12 megapixel, super-zoom, canon, bridge, 20x zoom, 2.5 inch LCD, sx 20, Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Review, power shot. review, sx20

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