Canon have had enough of conquering dry land so they've decided to aim their sights at water. Enter the Canon Powershot D10.
Canon Powershot D10: Specification
Canon Powershot D10: Features
- Zoom: 3x optical
- Resolution: 12Mp
- Sensor size: 1/2.3in
- Sensor type: CCD
- Max. image size: 4000x3000
- File type: JPEG
- Sensitivity: ISO80-1600
- Media type: SD, SDHC
- Focus types: AiAF (face detection/9 point), 1 point AF (fixed to centre or face detect and track), single, continuous
- Normal focusing: 30cm-infinity
- Close focusing: 3cm-infinity
- Metering types: Evaluative, centre-weighted, spot
- Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
- Shutter speed: 1-1/1500sec (max 15sec in night modes)
- Flash: Built-in, 30cm-3.2m (wide), 2.0m (tele)
- Monitor: 2.5in Purecolour TFT LCD II 230,000dot (76,000px)
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Power: Lithium-Ion
- Size: 103.6 x 66.9 x 48.8mm
- Weight: 190g (excl. battery and card)
It's got one of the most unusual designs that I've seen on a modern camera and is reminiscent of the Motorola Pebl mobile phone from a few years ago. It's curvy, bright blue on one half and built like a tank. Well it has to be to cope with the amount of things you can throw at it. Or throw it at.
The large lens houses the 3x optical zoom.
All buttons are on the back so they're easy to see underwater.
I like the curved design which is seen all over the camera. Even the layout of the buttons.
The front end has a large lens permanently stuck out which makes it just about pocketable unless you're into wearing tight trousers. It houses the image stabilised 3x optical zoom lens so it can move in and out and I wonder how Olympus manage to get their cameras to zoom and not have a bulbous front end. Maybe Canon are missing something but the styling is pretty unique and I think the lens adds to it. A large flash for underwater photography sits directly above the lens which could be a problem for portraits due to red-eye as the light is more aligned with the lens.
On the top plate are only two buttons for power and the shutter release. Moving to the back, before we get to the screen, there are three buttons for direct printing, playback and switching between recording and video. These buttons sit just above the screen which, blessedly, doesn't have a massive block of plastic over it. The body of the camera does curve out slightly to accommodate the screen and this suggests a thicker glass cover but it doesn't impede on the performance of the image.
Zooming is performed by two buttons in an arc shape and the familiar navigation pad sits just below the thumb pad. The camera has been designed like this for a purpose and I think it's to help when using the camera underwater. It means all the controls are seen from the back of the camera which is roughly where your head will be located when you're snorkelling. In that sense it's really well designed so you're not having to poke your nose over the top of the camera while fumbling for buttons.
There are several features of the Canon Powershot D10 that canon are particularly proud of such as the Smart auto mode. It's a feature similar to the intelligent auto feature that Panasonic pioneered. The idea behind it is that as you use the camera, it analyses the type of photograph you're taking and adjusts the scene mode to take the appropriate photograph. For instance if you're taking a picture of a flower, it'll see the close subject and switch to macro mode. It's the same if the camera detects faces, it'll switch straight to portrait mode and for landscapes as well. There's always a worry that this type of feature can start to take away the skill and fun of photography but then if you're scuba diving, you don't really want to be fiddling around with modes and dials.
Canon have installed the DiG!C IV processor which we first saw on the Canon EOS 50D and EOS 5D MkII. It's designed for faster processing, superior noise control and better colours but will all be proven in the performance tests.
The accessories available for the Canon Powershot D10. Two other straps aren't shown in this shot.
A new clasp is provided to attach the strap. It's stronger and more secure than a regualr type.
An accessory kit is available for the Canon Powershot D10 and it comes with three extra covers to replace the bright blue so if you're underwater you may prefer the black one or if you're a commando, you might opt for the camouflage design. There's also orange, but I can't think of a time you'd want to use that on your camera unless you're trying to look trendy. In the pack you also get an allen key and extra screws for interchanging the covers.
On top of this you get three straps with thick rope to keep attached to you and the camera. They vary in length with the shorter one having a large karabiner style clip to attach to your scuba gear at one end. The middle length cord has no clips while the longest has a smaller karbiner style clip for the same use as the short cord. The cords are attached to the camera in a different way to normal. Instead of threading through slits, they use a twist & lock mechanism which needs two pins to be pushed in and twisted around before it can be released. There are also four of the attachments so you can have two straps linked to the camera at any one time.
I like this method of fixing strap to the camera because it's a lot more secure but still easier to attach/detach while the clips will help when you're underwater or in warm clothing. When the camera isn't in use it can go in the stretchy neoprene case that also comes in the accessory pack.
Canon Powershot D10: Build and handling
A small rubber seal protects your camera from the elements.
A metal tripod bush is a surprising but welcome addition.
Being a waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof camera, it should be well built and it is. But let's face it, Canon aren't going to release a turkey. The lens sits behind thickened glass and while bolts are usually on show, it's like they've been accentuated on the D10 as a testament to its strength and ruggedness like a bodybuilder showing off his muscles.
Opening the battery door is an effort and I ruined several finger nails trying to prise open the door. It's not spring loaded so there's a knack to it and it can certainly take a while to get hold of.
While the zoom is smooth, it's slow and the 3x simply doesn't cut it in today's market. If 3x is the optimum length for underwater photography then clip it when in underwater mode. If it's down to size of the lens, then there's a problem. The other buttons are responsive if you're firm although I had trouble at first with the shutter release. Half pressing it to focus needs a little extra push than normal and it's easy to miss and take a picture and the camera will take a picture whether you're focused or not.
I like the addition of a metal tripod bush, I'm guessing it's to resist against the ravages of salt water as plastic will rot quicker than metal.
Canon Powershot D10: Performance
Putting the camera underwater isn't an issue here.
Noise is an issue at low ISO but not an iota of fringing has appeared.
Colours are pretty much as they should be but skin tone is a little pink.
Start up time is exceptionally fast at under half a second and it can be switched on, focused and a shot taken in around 1.5sec which is a full second off other compacts I've tested.
Continuous shooting is a bit of a let down, though. It only manages five frames in ten seconds which works out at around 0.5fps (frames per second).
With a depth of ten metres, I don't have a patch of water near me that goes that deep, so I placed it on a ledge in the local canal which has a depth of around half that. It started up no problem after I removed it. While there, I took the landscape image and I'm a bit surprised with the result. EXIF data confirms an ISO100 setting but the amount of noise is terrible. There's a little colour fringing on the white bars but none in the trees which is where it's normally seen the worst.
Setting to shady white balance has worked nicely warming the picture as it should to eradicate the blue tint that shade gives.
Back in the studio, the coiour test chart has given desirable results. Blue is punchy, warmer colours are rich as are the earthy colours such as brown and forest green. Mono tones are balanced and I think the only downside is the skin tone tile giving a result that's a bit too pink.
Saying that, the portrait test image isn't too pink but well balanced with smooth skin tones and detail in what hair Dan has left. Adding flash has smoothed out the skin further, eradicated a lot of the shadow area on the left side and added catchlights. I'm happy with the flash results especially as I was worried about its proximity to the lens.
I like the portrait shot, skin tones are smooth and there's lots of detail.
Adding flash removes shadows, balances skin even more and adds catchlights.
These colour accent options are found in the scene mode menu.
The Canon Powershot D10 features the Colour Accent and Colour Swap features which allow you to sample a base colour for the camera to pick out of a frame.
It makes the image see everything in black and white apart from this one colour. It's not precise but fun to use and on these pictures of the crayons, I accented the green, red then swapped red for green so the green crayons came out and any red ones also came out green.
There's a degree of error in the system because if you sample yellow, it'll see all versions of colour that have yellow in them. Likewise, if the colour you sampled isn't in amongst a block of colour, it changes black and white. That's why in the sample image above, the red crayons fade to black and white in places.
Canon Powershot D10: Noise test
After the disappointing results of the landscape image and all the noise on it, I'm keen to see the noise test results. From a photographers point of view, it doesn't look too good with mild colour inavading at the lowest ISO80 setting. This doesn't really change much until ISO400 where it becomes much more aggressive.
ISO800 gives a result similar to an ISO3200 on other compacts with a similar sized sensor and by ISO1600 all detail in the petals has gone while colour invasion has reached dizzying heights.
From a consumers view, the noise showing at the low settings won't be an issue and you'll really probably only get bothered by it over ISO400.
Canon Powershot D10: Verdict
The ISO80 test.
The ISO1600 test.
I really like the styling of the camera, it reminds me of a submersive vehicle that explores old ship wrecks. It's very fast at start up, thought has gone into the layout for using underwater and it has all the features you'd expect on a land lubbing compact camera.
As a photographer, I can't ignore the noise problems and I think this is the camera's only real failing. It takes some getting used to with its unusual design but it soon grows on you.
There are a few waterproof compacts available and I think if a fast start up time is a priority then you need this camera.
Canon Powershot D10: Plus points
Fast start up time
Good strap fastening idea
Canon Powershot D10: Minus points
Battery door is nigh on impossible to open
The Canon Powershot D10 costs around £299 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Canon Powershot D10
A short video of the camera in use underwater is available at ePHOTOzine.tv or click here:
Canon Powershot D10 underwater video test