Compared to...Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

Canon is marketing the SX100 IS with its 10x zoom lens as an 'ultra-zoom'. Whether this tag is deserved remains questionable at a time when various competitors have already launched 18x zoom models onto the marketplace. Maybe 'big-zoom compact' would be more appropriate. Nevertheless there are a couple of other cameras around with similar characteristics but slightly different feature sets.

For the purpose of this review we've picked the similarly specified and priced Panasonic DMC-TZ3 for comparison. It too offers a 10x zoom lens in a fairly compact package (although at a slightly reduced resolution of 7MP). We've included studio comparisons at each camera's lowest ISO, ISO 400, ISO 800 and highest ISO.

Studio scene comparison (SX100 IS @ ISO 80, TZ3 @ ISO 100)

  • Canon SX100 IS: Aperture Priority AE mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
  • Panasonic DMC-TZ3: Program AE mode, ISO 100, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Canon SX100 IS
Panasonic DMC-TZ3
ISO 80, 1/60 sec, F4.5
ISO 100, 1/80 sec, F4.4
3,295 KB JPEG
3,396 KB JPEG

Color on both cameras is bright without appearing unnatural. The Panasonic's colors look a touch more vivid, but overall both cameras produce realistic renditions of the subject color, with the TZ3 slightly accentuating the reds. Edge-to-edge and corner-to-corner sharpness is surprisingly good on both cameras although the SX100 IS just about takes the lead (the extra million pixels will no doubt be helping here), and is actually offering suprisingly good output. This is perhaps a reflection of the less ambitious zoom range (the TZ3 has a much wider wideangle).

As mentioned before in this review the output is a little soft. This can easily be rectified with an unsharp mask although most of the time you won't feel the necessity to do so. Canon has managed to offer a camera at a very competitive price point that combines an abundance of photographic control with a lens that would not look out of place on a much more upmarket camera. Kudos!