Compared to... (contd.)

Colour Chart Comparison

Now we can compare the IXUS 300 to a couple of other cameras, using samples from our test archives we will now compare its image quality (colour and resolution) to the Canon PowerShot S10, Sony MVC-CD200 and Nikon Coolpix 950.

Colour charts are shot in daylight, Auto White Balance, EV compensation +0.3 (all cameras), measured light ~10 EV.

Canon Digital IXUS 300 Canon PowerShot S10
Sony MVC-CD200 Nikon Coolpix 950

In the table below we're only measuring colour. The RGB values were measured from a VGA reduced image (to average colours and eliminate JPEG artifacts) using the Eyedropper tool in Photoshop with a 5 by 5 Average Sample Size.

  Canon Digital
IXUS 300
PowerShot S10
Coolpix 950
Patch White 211,213,210 209,213,220 184,198,196 198,198,198
Middle Gray 98,99,99 112,111,128 86,98,102 105,108,108
Patch Red 201,29,41 173,40,54 192,7,23 215,31,41
Patch Green 26,131,64 58,137,96 0,164,37 0,148,67
Patch Blue 25,30,93 43,50,108 57,31,148 57,51,132

Surprisingly dull blues, indeed the IXUS 300 has done an excellent job of measuring the correct white balance, both the white and gray patches samples are virtually pure, unfortunately all the primary colours are less saturated (duller) than I would have liked to have seen (compare them to the Sony MVC-CD200), having said that they're plainly an improvement over the S10. This fitted in with what I saw in images from the camera, to give them some "zing" they tended to need a saturation boost of about +15 (Photoshop).

Red Channel Noise

Something we've commented on previously is noise in the red colour channel in what should be pure blues. This was most visible in the light blue of skies or painted walls. Our colour patch test chart turned out to be a good "leveller" and a way to measure the performance of one camera to the next.

The samples below are of 40 x 40 blocks cropped from the colour comparison charts above of the Blue and Cyan patches, each block is then broken down into it's red green and blue channels and reflected as such directly below.

The IXUS 300 exhibits good channel separation (colour purity) and although there is some 'grainy' noise in the red channel it's not enough to be visible in most blues. About what I'd expect of a 2 megapixel ultra-compact digital camera.

Resolution Comparison

Shots here are of the PIMA/ISO 12233 standard resolution test chart (more of which are available in our comparison database). This resolution chart allows us to measure the actual performance of the lens and sensor system, it measures the ability of the camera to resolve lines at gradually higher resolutions and enables us to provide a definitive value for comparison purposes. Values on the chart are 1/100th lines per picture height. So a value of 8 equates to 800 lines per picture height.

Studio light, cameras set to auto, Exposure compensation +0.7 EV for all cameras.

Canon Digital IXUS 300 (S300 ELPH)
Canon PowerShot S10
Sony MVC-CD200
Nikon Coolpix 950

Measurable findings (three measurements taken for each camera):

Camera Measurement Absolute Res. Extinction Res.
Canon Digital IXUS 300 Horiz LPH * 820 1000
Vert LPH 800 1050
Diagonal LPH 800 900
Canon PowerShot S10 Horiz LPH 850 1150
Vert LPH 850 1100
Diagonal LPH 700 n/a
Sony MVC-CD200 Horiz LPH * 850 1050
Vert LPH 850 1050
Diagonal LPH 800 900
Nikon Coolpix 950 Horiz LPH 750 1050
Vert LPH 750 1050
Diagonal LPH 800 n/a

Definition of terms:

LPH Lines per Picture Height (to allow for different aspect ratios the measurement is the same for horizontal and vertical)
5o Diagonal Lines set at 5o diagonal
Absolute Resolution Still defined detail (below Nyquist frequency*)
Extinction Resolution Detail beyond camera's definition (becomes a solid gray alias)
n/a Not Available (above the capability of the test chart)
n/v Not Visible (not visible on test results)
* Nyquist frequency defined as the highest spatial frequency where the CCD can still faithfully record
image detail. Beyond the Nyquist frequency aliasing occurs.

Relatively good performance, resolution is better than the now ageing Nikon Coolpix 950, notably the IXUS 300 had very slightly better horizontal resolution than vertical.