White Balance

The C-5050 Zoom's automatic white balance really only performed well in natural light where it seemed fairly capable at deciding the difference between sunlight, shade and cloudy conditions. Under artificial light however there was a pink or yellow warm cast to images and the best results were obtained by switching to one of the preset white balances or by creating a manual (custom) white balance. It's also worth considering that all of the C-5050 Zoom's white balance settings can be fine tuned.

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Cloudy Outdoors, Manual
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Incandescent Incandescent, Manual
Fluorescent, Auto Fluorescent, Fluorescent 4 Fluorescent, Manual

Also available:

Macro Focus

The C-5050 Zoom has two dedicated Macro Focus modes. 'Normal Macro' mode allows for subject distances as close as 20 cm (7.9 in) but with full use of the zoom range, 'Super Macro' allows for subject distances of just 3 cm (1.2 in) but with the focal length locked at approximately one third zoom.

Normal Macro Focus Mode

Best frame coverage for normal macro mode was achieved at about three quarters zoom and provided approximately 6.5 cm (2.6 in) frame coverage.

Super Macro Focus Mode

Super macro mode provided approximately 3.2 cm (1.3 in) frame coverage but with some distortion and softness in the frame corners. That said this is definitely the best macro performance we've seen from a Cx0x0 digital camera.

Internal Flash Performance

The C-5050 Zoom has a larger than average fixed flash unit mounted to the upper left of the lens. It has a quoted range of 0.8 - 5.6 m (2.6 - 18.4 ft) at wide angle and 0.2 - 3.8 m (0.7 - 12.5 ft) at telephoto. We found exposure to be on the whole very good, color balance was natural with no cast, flash power metering was excellent.

Skin tone - Good exposure, no color cast, very nice natural skin color Color patches - Good color balance, good flash power, good exposure

Night exposures

The C-5050 Zoom provides timed exposures of up to 16 seconds in manual exposure mode. There is an optional 'Noise reduction' option in the menu system which carries out a dark frame subtraction noise reduction on exposures longer than 1 second. With noise reduction enabled night exposure results were very good, clean with no obvious pit marks. Kudos.

Manual exposure: ISO 64, 10 sec, F7.0 (Noise reduction enabled)

Low Light Focus

This test measures the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.

Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).

This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), you should consider the results below the best you could expect to achieve.

Lens position Aperture Lowest light focus
Wide angle (35 mm) F1.8 Complete darkness
Telephoto (105 mm) F2.6 Complete darkness

Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)

The C-5050 Zoom's AF assist lamp cast a bright orange light directly onto the center of the frame, this was enough at both wide angle and telephoto to produce an accurate focus lock in our test. Excellent.

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

The C-5050 Zoom's three times optical zoom lens exhibited approximately 1.1% barrel distortion at full wide angle (about average for this kind of lens) and 0.4% pincushion distortion at full telephoto (higher than we would expect for a three times zoom lens).

Barrel Distortion, 1.1% @ wide angle Pincushion Distortion, 0.4% @ telephoto

Vignetting / Light fall off

Our vignetting / light fall off test is very simple, a shot of a blank wall from two meters away, vignetting will always be most visible at wide angle and maximum aperture and will start to disappear at smaller apertures and/or further zoom. As you can see below the C-5050 Zoom exhibits very little corner vignetting / light fall of, there is just the hint of it most visible in the bottom corners, it's unlikely you would see this in a normal shot.

Slight corner vignetting / fall off visible at wide angle and maximum aperture (F1.8) Vignetting better at wide angle with a smaller aperture (F5.0)
Slight corner vignetting / fall off visible at wide angle and maximum aperture (F1.8) Vignetting disappears at a further zoom level

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

I was disappointed to see strong purple fringing visible in a few of our 'every day' test shots. Fringing was consistently evident in all the places you would expect, around chrome detail or the edge of overexposed sky against darker detail. The level of fringing is reminiscent of cameras of two years ago and is therefore disappointing in a new high-end digital camera.

Purple fringing easily visible in this shot and several others Our standard chromatic aberration test shot, strong purple fringing is evident

Foil "torture test" comparison

We first used this test to compare the CA visible on the Canon G3 with its predecessor the G2. However it's a useful test because it's easy to carry out at different apertures. It's simply regular aluminium foil 'scrunched' into a ball and shot in direct sunlight at a range of apertures.

As you can see from the 100% image crops below the C-5050 Zoom exhibits fairly strong CA on the edges of highlights throughout the aperture range, only at the small aperture of F7.0 does CA begin to disappear. This isn't a particularly good performance.

F1.8 F2.6
F3.6 F5.0