Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pushing the Limits of the Canon Powershot S95

In my professional work, I use DxO Optics to process my RAW files and in my continuing pursuits to push the s95 camera to the maximum limits I made a discovery this evening.

While processing my images in DxO Optics, in viewing before and after native profile correction, the before image looked totally different from the images I saw in both Adobe Lightroom and in Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP).

Here's the DPP image:


Here's the DxO image before correction:


Surprisingly there's two things I noticed. First it appears I'm getting another 2 or 3 degrees of additional field of view (FoV) out of the RAW file. The second thing is that the RAW file in DPP appears to be corrected to some degree.

Now I know it is impossible to get more image than possible, so this proves to me that Canon deliberately adjusts the RAW files as it gets into DPP. I actually don't really care that much that they adjusted the RAW in a point and shoot camera. I find it more interesting that they have adjusted the RAW file to correct for the distortion that appears to come from the apparent 6mm fisheye lens. For the most part, DPP's image (which is identical to ImageBrowser and I can only assume for ZoomBrowser) has corrected much of the distortion. There is still some barrel distortion which is corrected in DxO Optics automatically.

DxO Optics Lens Profile Corrected:

The DxO Optics corrected image looks similar to the DPP version with the exception of a few things. First there's appears to be a a half a degree of additional FoV (not massive but in this image a few inches all around), and secondly, it corrects all the lines to be straight. Barrel distortion has been completely removed.

Now to be fair to DPP, I also turned on its profile corrections to see how much of a difference there is between the two. DPP does not add additional FoV for one, but also the corner to corner sharpness is certainly much different between the two.



This sample shows the extreme corners and you can see how both the additional FoV and the corner sharpness is an improvement on DPP. Now to be fair to DPP, you can tweak it enough to regain some sharpness, but it comes at a cost. If you're using the unsharp mask settings in DPP you run the risk of creating a strange contrasty edge (almost like it's a fine 1 point outline/stroke around edges. This is really obvious in white and mid-toned elements). Because of this issue, most of the settings has to be kept at a minimum to avoid it. This basically renders most of those adjustments useless and doesn't come close to what DxO Optics is able to push out of this camera.

In closing, this demonstrates that with the right RAW processor, you're able to get a little more out of this already great little camera, but I'm pushing it to limits that certainly makes me leave my 5Dmk2 at home for simple walks, or at the very least to carry far less lenses than I used to. The added bonus is that you get a fisheye lens at the most extremes of this camera, and with DxO Optics, you can certainly take advantage of that extra image to correct for distortion not just in the lens, but also in geometric correction giving you a little bit of a tilt-shift capability in a point and shoot.

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