Friday, May 6, 2011

Well, so far - I am surprised

Now that everything is fixed, I took some time to start comparing my SX210 to my HTC Inspire.  I figured my first test would be were both should perform well - outside in a nice bright day.  Note the previous review of the SX210 did show some noise at higher ISO with less light.  I expected both to perform well, but the SX210 to show its stuff.  However, this is why we run the tests.

There have been no modifications (except size or cropping on the close ups) to the photos.  So you are seeing them as they come out of the camera or the phone (and as always click to get a larger version but it will be large as I left them as the original 14mp (for the SX210) and 8mp (for the HTC Inspire).  All pictures were taken in full auto mode.

The upper picture is from the SX210, and the lower one is from the Inspire.  This was a good picture to take as it seemed to stretch the contrast in the Inspire (not it seems to lack a little).  However, the colors are beter in the inpire (look to the sky and the tracks (the rust color comes through a bit better).  Performing some adjustments in the SX210 prior to taking the picture could probably improve the colors, but as it stands it would be easier to work the Inspire picture in photo shop.  So in this picture not really an edge.

Once again the SX210 is the upper image.  The bird house was the focus point in the picture.  The Inspire just got a sharper image than the SX210.  Also the lighting and coloring looked better with the Inspire.  This is not looking as good as above, as in this picture there is a definite winner, and it is the phone (if you do not see it in the images above, click on them and bring up the full size - you will see the softness in the SX210 which I commented about in my original review.

For the next 2 pictures I put the SX210 into widescreen mode.  This reduces the pixel count a bit (but cutting off the top and bottom), but duplicates the camera for dimensions (still has more pixels, but the shape is the same).  I did this to rule out liking wide format images better.

Again, the SX210 is on the top, but the better picture comes from the Inspire.  The colors are more correct from the inspire, and it captured more of the blue sky.  Additionally, the sharpness is better on the inspire (the bag on the fence was the focus point).  There is just a blue hue to the SX210 that needs to be removed, and the saturation needs to be improved (and again the softness overcome).  The Inspire also has more of the picture in focus (but there is a reason for that, and I will get to that after the next set).

Once again, the SX210 is above, and again, the better picture came out of the inspire.  Better color, better sharpness and just better tone.  However, a comment about sharpness when comparing different camera types.

If you look closely at the larger images (click on them), the lower image looks sharper both in the foreground and the background..  There is a good reason for this, and that is that the depth of field of the two imaging devices is different. 

To illustrate, on a DSLR, the sensor is further from the rear lense element.  This forces focus to a narrower range of distances (in fact the rule of thumb is that a portable camera has 4 stops more depth of field than a DSLR - as apetrure is the largest factor in depth of field).  The science behind this is a bit complicated, and I will leave that for another day (I have done a study of multiple subjects in the past varying apeture to change the overall feel, maybe this will come up again).

This means that more of the picture is in focus in a pocket camera than a DSLR.  The same effect happens here.  The HTC Inspire will have a larger depth of field than the pocket camera due to the distance between the lense and the sensor. 

So what have we learned.  So far, for certain pictures, the Inspire will not just be able to replace the SX210, but will be able to out perform (I am assuming standard size prints which are very possible with the 8mp from the Inspire, and do not need the 14mp from the SX210).  Now, there could be some things that I could do to make the SX210 perform better (and I will look into them - like changing the color balance etc).  However, the increased depth of field that the phone provides, actually makes it more suited for some types of landscape photography. 

There are some things the Inspire just does not do.  There is no optical zoom on the phone (so getting close to a distant object is not happening).  The SX210 has 14X zoom, and can get close to alot of subjects.  However, some of the softness seen here with the SX210 were also noted in my original review.  Canon just came out with the SX230 which is the next version.  Instead of a CCD it has a back lighted CMOS sensor which is supposed to solve some of the noise issues (and if noise can be solved at the source, then less noise reduction would be needed, so the pictures should be less soft).  Guess I am off to BestBuy to see if I can take a few pictures with my camera and an SX230 there and see how they compare (but I will also compare the SX210 to the Inspire in less than optimal situations).

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