After my first batch of photos I knew that the Canon S10 wouldn't disappoint in this area of the review. And it doesn't. Overall image quality is excellent, with very good detail and definition, good, bright colours and less CCD noise than competitive cameras.
Digicam aficionados will know that Canon have always broken the mould by using a CYGM colour filter on their CCD's... This produces different results than the traditional RGBG colour filter. Though the jury is out on the specific advantages or disadvantages of either technology.
One thing that was noticeable against a good quality digicam (on this page compared with the Nikon Coolpix 800) was the Canon's ability to define edges even when they're on the boundary of bright colours (something traditional digicams struggle with). The other noticeable is a complete lack of noise, even in dark areas. But hey, don't take my word for it, check out the comparison below.
Compared to the Nikon Coolpix 800
General observations: The S10 shows better clarity, is less affected by colour boundaries and shows little or NO noise, this is especially noticeable on the image Crop II which is a crop of the reflection of the Martini bottle on the Martell bottle, the Coolpix 800 shows noticeable "shadow noise" which is to be expected of any digicam in such low light, the amazing thing is the S10's ability to not only deal with the low light but also pull more detail out of the shadow.
One slight oddity which can be seen in Crop III and this again is probably a side-effect of Canon's use of the CYGM colour filter is the colour artifacting around the small leaf emblem in red against the brown background. That said the S10 makes a better job of rendering the text without artifacts.
Overall the Canon wins this round, colours are more natural, better balanced, details are more defined and especially there is little or no noise to be found either on flat colour surfaces or in shadows.
Canon PowerShot S10 2MP Digital Camera
w/ 2x Optical Zoom
Canon PowerShot S110 12MP Digital Camera
with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Canon Powershot SX10IS 10MP Digital Camera
with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
Canon PowerShot S95 10 MP Digital Camera
with 3.8x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD
Canon PowerShot S90 10MP Digital Camera
with 3.8x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD
Canon PowerShot S120 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera
with 5x Optical Zoom and 1080p Full-HD Video
Canon PowerShot S100 12.1 MP Digital Camera
with 5x Wide-Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Black)
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera
with 20x Image Stabilized Zoom 25mm Wide-Angle Lens and 1080p Full-HD Video (Black)
Canon PowerShot Pro Series S5 IS 8.0MP Digital Camera
with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
Canon PowerShot Pro Series S3 IS 6MP
with 12x Image Stabilized Zoom
Canon PowerShot SX1IS 10 MP CMOS Digital Camera
with 20x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.8-inch LCD