Canon PowerShot D30 (con't)

Image quality

The PowerShot D30's image quality sits above the Olympus TG-3 and Nikon AW120, and is right behind the Pentax WG-4. The main reason for the superior image quality is Canon's conservative approach to noise reduction. Rather than pouring on the noise reduction - which smudges fine detail - Canon leaves 'grainy' noise in the photo, which makes them more appealing when viewed at full size. At high sensitivities (ISO 400 and above) images being to get soft, with mushy details finally appearing. 

While looking at pixel-level image quality is interesting, the typical compact camera buyer probably won't be, which is something to keep in mind.

The lens is sharp, though you'll spot some corner blurring at wide-angle. There's no noticeable drop in sharpness when the lens is at its telephoto position.

Like many compact cameras, the D30 clips highlights without much effort, so you may need to use about -1/3EV of exposure compensation at times.

The D30 produces photos with vivid color - just don't look too closely at fine detail.

One audience to which these cameras will appeal are snorkelers and divers. To see how the PowerShot D30 and its three competitors fared, we took them each for a swim.

The D30's underwater photos lack a color cast, which brings out the vibrant colors of these fish. ISO 250, 1/250 sec, f/3.9, 44mm equiv.

One area in which the D30 impresses is underwater photo quality. The camera has a dedicated underwater mode (including for macro shots) which produces images without a strong blue color cast that is often found on consumer underwater cameras. One usually needs to remove this color cast on your Mac or PC, but there's no need to on the PowerShot D30. The quality of the actual photos is good, as well. The only area in which the D30 is lacking is if you want to shoot continuously (which can help when fish/porpoises/turtles are moving quickly), as its burst rate is just too low.

Video quality

As mentioned on the preceding page, the PowerShot D30 can record 1080/24p video with stereo sound. The camera has several optical image stabilization modes for video shooting, including a 'powered' option that reduces strong image shake.

Sample 1 - underwater

This first sample gives you a rough idea about underwater video quality. There isn't much to comment on; the camera keeps the fish in focus, despite the photographer bobbing around in the ocean. As with stills, there's no noticeable color cast.

Download original: 1920 x 1080, 24p, 35Mbps, 7 secs, 31.4MB

Sample 2 - on the beach

This on-land handhead has nice colors, though it's rather shaky for a camera with image stabilization. 

Download original: 1920 x 1080, 24p, 35Mbps, 10 secs, 40.5MB

Conclusion

The Canon PowerShot D30 is a perfectly functional rugged camera that takes good quality photos - especially underwater - but does't really stand out in any particular area. Its main claim to fame is its ability to go 25m/82ft below sea level, with the rest of its rugged traits being more conventional. The autofocus system is responsive, and the camera's 28-140mm lens range is longer than most of its competitors.

Where the D30 falls behind its peers is with regard to features. It has a very limited GPS system (location only), no Wi-Fi, and video specs (1080/24p) that just isn't competitive anymore. The LCD has an unusual color cast in daylight, which makes photos you're composing washed out. The lack of direct buttons for exposure compensation and photo deletion make this commonly-used functions more difficult to operate, especially considering that the camera tends to overexpose.

With better cameras in this price range offering more features, you'll probably do better passing on the PowerShot D30.

ProsCons
  • Good underwater white balance and image quality
  • Class-leading maximum depth
  • Solid autofocus performance
  • Long lens for its class
  • Limited GPS functionality
  • LCD has bluish cast, low contrast
  • Lacks direct buttons for exposure comp, deleting photos
  • Out-of-date video specs
  • No built-in Wi-Fi

Scoring

Canon PowerShot D30
Category: Waterproof / Rugged Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Shooters who want a good everyday camera that performs well underwater, and don't mind the lack of Wi-Fi.
Not so good for
Low light shooters, those seeking more data than location alone, social network photo sharers
Overall score
73%
The PowerShot D30 isn't the most feature-packed rugged camera, with basic GPS functionality and no Wi-Fi, but it takes good photos in nearly all situations, including underwater. That said, the user experience could use some work and the movie mode is dated.
 

Sample Photos

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