Canon Powershot A580 Review

Review Date: May 19th 2008
Author: Zoltan Arva-Toth

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 8 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4.5Mb.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon Powershot A580 which you can select at any time if the camera is in any of the creative shooting modes. The combined effect of noise and noise reduction means that the maximum print size at which your shots look flawless gets progressively smaller as you go up the sensitivity ladder, but ISO 800 will still produce excellent-quality 10x15cm prints. Unsurprisingly, ISO 1600 is only suitable for Web use. 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 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)

   
   

File Quality

The Canon Powershot A580 has 3 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Superfine being the highest quality JPEG option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M Superfine (4.44Mb) (100% Crop)
12M Fine (2.85Mb) (100% Crop)
   
12M Normal (1.37Mb) (100% Crop)
 
 
   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon Powershot A580 handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review. While detectable if you deliberately looked for them, they weren't an issue in real-world shots, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)
Example 2 (100% Crop)
   

Macro

The Canon Powershot A580 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The A580 has decent macro capabilities. You can almost completely fill the frame with a standard CompactFlash card. The not-so-great news is that maximum magnification is achieved with the lens fully zoomed out, where it suffers from rather pronounced barrel distortion. 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 A580 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. Some corner shading is evident at the wide end of the zoom range, which gets even more pronounced when the flash is used. I haven't found this a major problem in everyday shooting though. At the telephoto end, flash coverage is much more even.

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. The flash caused a quite strong red-eye effect. With Red-Eye Correction and Red-Eye Lamp both turned on, this effect was reduced but not completely eliminated.

Auto

Auto (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye reduction

Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)
   

Night Shot

The Canon Powershot A580's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds, which is great for night photography. Detail definition is good and noise is under control in long exposures at ISO 80. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 0.3 second, f/2.6 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)
   

Overall Image Quality

The Canon PowerShot A580 produced photos with reasonably accurate, attractively saturated colours. Automatic white balance in particular was a very pleasant surprise while not 100% infallible, it proved to be a lot more consistent under various types of lighting than I have seen from cameras that cost several times the price of the A580. The lens, which appears to be the same one that debuted in the 3-megapixel PowerShot A510 of 2005, coped very well with the much-increased pixel density of the current model, producing great centre sharpness and plenty of detail. Corner and edge sharpness wasnt quite as great, at least not wide open at the extremes of the zoom range. Chromatic aberrations, while detectable if you deliberately looked for them, weren't an issue in real-world shots. A somewhat more serious problem with the lens was the noticeable barrel distortion at wide angle, but most target users are not going to be bothered by it, and those that are can always correct it in postprocessing. At its best shooting at the Large Superfine setting at base ISO, medium focal lengths and with the lens stopped down a notch by the camera the A580 can produce photos that print beautifully at 30x40cm. The combined effect of noise and noise reduction means that the maximum print size at which your shots look flawless gets progressively smaller as you go up the sensitivity ladder, but ISO 800 will still produce excellent-quality 10x15cm prints. Unsurprisingly, ISO 1600 is only suitable for Web use. The only real image quality problem I have found was the harsh and early clipping of highlights in anything but the flattest lighting, which is why the histogram only available in Playback and the exposure compensation function will be your best friends whenever shooting in direct sunlight.

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Canon Powershot A580 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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