Canon PowerShot SX610 HS Review

April 21, 2015 | Jack Baker | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 8Mb.

With many rival compact cameras packing 18 and 20-megapixel sensors, it’s not surprising that Canon has replaced the SX600 HS’s 16MP sensor with this 20.2-megapixel chip. Sounds great on paper, but in reality the difference in image quality is marginal.

If you scrutinise very closely indeed, the new camera does resolve slightly more detail than its predecessor, but generally you could enlarge an image taken by the SX600 HS to 20MP dimensions and get similar clarity.

Despite the dubious detail gains from its increased pixel count, the SX610 HS does produce pleasing shots in bright light. Colours are vibrant and detail is reasonably crisp. The camera’s accurate exposure metering means shots look true to life and have a good balance of highlight and shadow detail.

Things aren’t so good in low light though. Grain noise visible in low ISO shots becomes easily noticeable at ISO400, especially across neutral tones, and at ISO800 it’s accompanied by colour speckling and some detail smearing. This progressively worsens through to the topmost ISO3200 sensitivity, where grain and colour speckling are clearly visible, even when viewing at 50% image size. Even so, there’s still enough detail to make these shots usable for web sharing and small 6x4 prints.

Optical performance is fairly good, and though three is some chromatic aberration (purple fringing) visible in high-contrast areas, it’s rarely distracting. Distortion is also minimal, with only a hint of barrel distortion at wide angle and no noticeable pincushion effect when zoomed in. Corner sharpness is fairly good, though detail isn’t quite as crisp as in the centre of frame.

Noise

The PowerShot SX610 HS has a sensitivity range of ISO80 to ISO3200 available at full resolution.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

Sharpening

We found that the Canon PowerShot SX610 HS images are already very sharp, but do benefit from a little touch up in post processing.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg

Focal Range

The camera’s 18x optical zoom lens gives you a focal range of 25-450mm (in 35mm-camera terms). Canon’s ZoomPlus feature can double this to 36x without considerable detail loss, whilst an additional 2x conventional digital zoom will give a combined maximum 72x reach, albeit at the expense of image quality.

24mm

450mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with purple and green fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

File Quality

The SX610 HS has two JPEG compression options: Fine, where shots consume 4-6MB of car space, and Superfine, resulting in 7-9MB images.

SuperFine (7.47Mb) (100% Crop)

Fine (4.85Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg

Macro

A 5cm minimum wide-angle focussing distance isn’t particularly special, but unlike some compact cameras, the SX610 HS will still focus at relatively close distances when zoomed in.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The SX610 HS uses a pop-up style flash which needs to be manually ejected. However, this does at least mean that you won’t have to worry about the flash firing when you’re not expecting it.

Shooting a white target from a distance of 1.5 metres at ISO100 reveals some noticeable wide-angle vignetting. There’s also a hint of red-eye visible when red-eye reduction is disabled, but enable the system via the main menu and red-eye is successfully avoided.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (450mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (450mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Image stabilisation

Canon’s lens-shift image stabilisation system does a good job of compensating for camera shake. This image required a slow 1/5-second shutter speed at ISO100, but the photo is still fairly sharp when IS is enabled. Turn it off and there’s no chance of avoiding considerable blur at the same settings.

Anti-Shake Off (100% Crop) Anti-Shake On (100% Crop)
antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Handheld Night Scene

There’s three options for capturing a night time shot. The clearest results come from using the Long Shutter mode, whereby in this instance the camera used a 1-second exposure time and ISO80 to record maximum detail within minimum noise.

Of course, a tripod is essential when using this setting, but alternatively you can switch to Handheld NightScene mode and the SX610 will ramp up the sensor sensitivity to ISO1600 for a faster exposure, albeit at the expense of image noise. Leaving the camera in regular Smart Auto mode yields very similar results.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

night_auto.jpg night_auto1.jpg
   

Night Handheld

Night Handheld (100% Crop)

night_handheld.jpg night_handheld1.jpg
   

Night Long Shutter

Night Long Shutter (100% Crop)

night_handheld.jpg night_handheld1.jpg

Special Effects

Six filter effects are selectable from the camera’s ‘FUNC.SET’ menu. These are: Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect. All are previewed live and recorded at full resolution.

Fisheye

Miniature

Canon_PowerShot_SX610_HS-Filter1-Fish-eye_Effect.JPG Canon_PowerShot_SX610_HS-Filter2-Miniature_Effect.JPG
   

Monochrome

Super Vivid

Canon_PowerShot_SX610_HS-Filter4-Monochrome.JPG Canon_PowerShot_SX610_HS-Filter5-Super_Vivid.JPG
   

Poster Effect

Toy Camera

Canon_PowerShot_SX610_HS-Filter6-Poster_Effect.JPG Canon_PowerShot_SX610_HS-Filter3-Toy_Camera_Effect.JPG