Canon PowerShot SD3500 IS: Video Quality

February 22, 2011 by Howard Creech Reads (2,541)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 6
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
The SD3500 IS’s HD 1280 x 720p at 30 fps movie mode can actually compete with a dedicated video camera and that could open up some interesting possibilities. In addition to the HD mode, SD3500 IS users can also shoot video at either VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x 240) resolution. Audio is recorded in mono. Like most digicams, the SD3500 IS can’t be zoomed while in video capture mode.

The video clip which accompanies this review was shot in a poorly lit old South End hardware store with a mix of warm white fluorescent and window lighting.

Image Quality
Image files produced by Canon’s point-and-shoots are optimized for the bold bright hues and slightly flat contrast that some veteran shooters refer to as Canon Color – the SD3500 IS doesn’t stray far from that “family” formula. Native colors (default Canon color interpolation) are bright, hue accurate, and natural-looking, but visibly over-saturated. Reds are a little warmer than they are in real life, blues are a bit too bright, greens are more vibrant than those seen by the naked eye, and purples tend toward blue. Most casual shooters (the SD3500 IS’s target audience) won’t consider these minor color variations as faults. Although there is a slight tendency toward overexposure, the SD3500 IS produces reliably well-exposed and almost noise-free images outside in good light.

Images are detailed and unexpectedly sharp. In bright contrasty lighting highlight detail was occasionally blown-out. Overall, the SD3500 IS’s image quality is on the high side of average for cameras in this class.

The SD3500 IS provides users with an acceptable selection of White Balance options, including Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, and custom. Overall, the SD3500 IS’s Auto WB system does a remarkably good job.

Canon SD3500 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The SD3500 IS provides a reasonable range of sensitivity options, including Auto and user-set options for ISO 80 to ISO 1600. ISO 80 and ISO 100 images are indistinguishable – both show bright colors, slightly flat native contrast, and very low noise levels. ISO 200 images were also very good, but with a little less snap.

Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 80
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 100
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 200
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 400
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 800
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Canon SD3500 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

Higher sensitivity settings show flat colors, reduced contrast, lots of noise, and fuzzy details. At the ISO 400 setting, noise levels are noticeably higher and there’s a (barely) perceptible loss of minor detail. ISO 800 images are noisy, but not as noisy as expected – they should be acceptable for e-mail, Facebook and 3×5 inch or 4×6 inch prints. ISO 1600 images are way too noisy to be useful for anything other than record shots.

Additional Sample Images

Canon SD3500 Sample Image Canon SD3500 Sample Image
Canon SD3500 Sample Image Canon SD3500 Sample Image

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