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[Part 3] Dramatically Increased Image Quality

The PowerShot G3 X, with its 20.2 megapixel effective pixel count and 1.0-inch type sensor, depicts images with high definition and clarity. In this third instalment of our interview with its developers, we focus on the sensor and image processor.

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Imaging processor development

ICP Development Center 3

Manager

Kenji Takahashi

"The design of DIGIC 6 has a level of freedom that can support a variety of changing characteristics, and the 1.0-inch type sensor and optics together achieve the ultimate combination"

Sensor development

Development Center 3

Senior Engineer

Hiroshi Kaibara

"Compared to high-power models up until now, being equipped with a 1.0-inch type sensor should make it obvious that the target of image quality has improved significantly."

DIGIC 6 and a 1.0-inch type sensor dramatically increased image quality of existing models

- What are the features of this imaging processor and sensor?

Takahashi The PowerShot G3 X is equipped with DIGIC 6 and a 1.0-inch type sensor just like the PowerShot G7 X, but tuning of all the parameters was carried out to match the 24-600mm lens this time. In accordance with achieving the high-power 25x zoom, various modifications are made to each zoom position for the optical characteristics. Furthermore, as the sensor is a large sized 1.0-inch type, and as it has the high resolution characteristics of a 20.2 megapixel resolution, it also was affected by changes in optical characteristics more than ever before. However, the design of DIGIC 6 has a level of freedom that can support a variety of changing characteristics, and the 1.0-inch type sensor and optics together achieve the ultimate combination which contributes to the high image quality.

Kaibara Problems that can affect the image quality such as brightness shading and colour shading can occur due to differences in the angle of incidence for light, as well as lens distortion and will fluctuate according to the zoom position. Correction to solve this task is optimized as steady adjustments for each position, so I believe that users can shoot Canon-like natural, beautiful images throughout the full zoom range. Compared to high-power models up until now, being equipped with a 1.0-inch type sensor should make it obvious that the target of image quality has improved significantly.

Takahashi Because this is a G series premium model, strict settings were established so necessary image quality standards are met.

The 20.2MP effective pixel count, 1.0-inch type sensor on the PowerShot G3 X. Although it comes with the DIGIC 6 processor which is also used on the PowerShot G7 X, all parameters have been optimized for the 24-600mm high zoom lens on it.

Recording a wide dynamic range Image processing approaching that of EOS

- Is the direction of image creation similar to EOS?

Takahashi With the PowerShot G3 X, following the PowerShot G7 X, changing the target exposure value, and changing contrast characteristics of highlights from existing compact cameras has been implemented for image creation with adjustment characteristics similar to EOS. As the dynamic range of bright areas is expanded, it is good at suppressing blown highlights which is a feature. By setting exposure moderately, even more information can be retained even for bright subjects. As the processing tolerance of images is improved, it should make a significant contribution to serious shooting with RAW.

The PowerShot G3 X is said to have an imaging capability close to that of EOS cameras. This amazing performance should delight EOS users trying out the PowerShot G3 X.

- What new features are possible with the tuning this time?

Kaibara This is Canon's first compact digital camera that can shoot bulb exposures. This feature was made possible with a larger sensor and improved noise reduction performance due to the use of the DIGIC 6 processor, and by taking advantage of the know-how from Star Mode which has been included since the PowerShot G15. Through lots of discussion with the quality assurance departments, by ensuring that Canon's quality standards are met with countermeasures for noise level, etc., we were finally able to include this long-awaited feature. I would really like to see it used for shooting night scenes and fireworks.

- Were any adjustments made because it is a high-power model?

Kaibara As magnification at the telephoto end increases, rolling shutter standing out during Live View and movies is a problem. As it supports the high level of movie performance included on the PowerShot G3 X, sensor reading speed is 1.75x faster than the PowerShot G7 X, which acts as a way of preventing rolling shutter distortion.

Rolling shutter distortion Low

Rolling shutter distortion High

At high zoom magnifications, rolling shutter distortions may become more obvious during Live View and Movie shooting. On the PowerShot G3 X, sensor reading speed is 1.75x faster than the PowerShot G7 X (*for Full HD 30p), which acts as a way of preventing rolling shutter distortion.

Optimum reading design that takes advantage of the 1.62 million dot high resolution LCD monitor

- Were any adjustments made for the PowerShot G3 X's high resolution LCD monitor?

Kaibara The PowerShot G3 X is equipped with a 1.62 million dot, 3.2-type LCD monitor which is extremely high resolution for a compact camera. In order to take advantage of the resolution of this LCD, while considering the balance with power consumption, optimized sensor reading was designed. As a result, image quality in Live View is more detailed, making it easier to capture the subject.

The high definition, 1.62 million dot, 3.2-type LCD touch panel monitor not only improves the quality of the image displayed during Live View shooting, it also makes it easier to capture subjects. It can be tilted up to 180 degrees upwards and 45 degrees downwards.

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