Technology Used in Digital Compact Cameras
Canon's digital compact cameras are highly regarded for their high image quality, high performance, convenience and ease of use. The body incorporates the latest technology such as optical technology that the company has developed as a camera manufacturer.
An Ultra-Small Lens Unit with a Lens-Shift Type Image Stabilizer*1
Contributing to a Smaller Camera Body and Higher Image Quality
A variety of technologies are used for image stabilization in digital cameras. Since the 1980s, Canon has been improving the performance of its lens-shift type image stabilizer (IS), also incorporated into compact digital cameras. The information detected by a gyro sensor within the camera is used to analyze the amount of movement and shift the corrective optical lens within the lens unit to negate this movement.
Canon's compact digital cameras employ lens units incorporating UA lens*2 elements that provide excellent expression while ensuring a compact camera body, and Canon's unique image stabilization technology is used in these ultra-small precision units. The proprietary ceramic ball support system is employed to drive the corrective optical lens element. This system features low susceptibility to the effects of magnetism, less thermal deformation than metal, and low friction. This works in concert with a high-precision control circuit to provide smooth, precise movement and outstanding responsiveness.
Ceramic Ball Support System for Shifting Lens
- *1 Lens-shift type Image Stabilizer
Image sensor shift type and electric image processing type stabilization are other image stabilization methods. A lens-shift type image stabilizer has the advantage of providing a wider adjustment scope with almost no deterioration in image quality.
- *2 UA lens (Ultra-high refractive index Aspherical lens)
A glass-molded (GMo) aspherical lens with an ultrahigh refractive index. In addition to this aspherical lens, an impeccably sharp image befitting of a Canon lens is produced through the optimal combination of various lenses with different optical characteristics.
Canon has further evolved its image stabilization technology to develop "Intelligent IS," which automatically selects the optimal image stabilization settings according to the shooting conditions. The impact of camera shake on an image differs depending on factors such as whether a still image or movie is being shot, the zoom position and the shooting distance. Intelligent IS is technology for controlling optimal image stabilization by enabling the camera to determine the shooting conditions using Scene Detection technology each time a shot is taken. For example, when the distance to the subject is determined to be close in normal shooting of a still image, Hybrid IS*3 mode for correcting the shift blurring that is conspicuous in macro shots is started. Furthermore, if it is determined that an immobile subject is the target when shooting movie with a telephoto lens, Powered Image Stabilization mode for correcting slow camera shake is started.
In this way, Intelligent IS automatically selects optimal image stabilization settings from seven different modes, enabling the camera to make the most effective image stabilization.
- *3 Hybrid IS
Camera shake can result in angular blur, caused by the camera moving at an angle in relation to the subject, or shift blur, caused by the camera moving up, down left or right in a plane parallel to the subject. The Hybrid IS developed by Canon appropriately corrects both of these types of camera shake, and effectively performs image stabilization at close distances in addition to ordinary image stabilization.
The Brain of Canon's Ever-Evolving Digital Cameras
Light entering a digital camera through its lens is converted into electric signals by a CCD/CMOS image sensor. From these signals the digital image processor*4 generates image data with natural color reproduction, rich gradation, and low noise. DIGIC, Canon's digital camera image processor, is a high performance LSI chip that uses unique architecture to make constant high-speed processing possible.
Using algorithms developed by Canon, DIGIC makes possible the high-speed processing of such tasks as reducing false colors and moiré patterns, and canceling noise during long exposures or at high ISO speeds, in addition to providing a higher resolution signal output to LCD monitors. The processing and memory components are configured in a layered structure to conserve space, contributing to reducing the size of the camera. Furthermore, Canon's digital compact cameras employ technology called the HS SYSTEM, which enables high-definition images to be shot with little noise even in low light and supports a wide range of shooting such as scenes with a mixture of bright and dark areas, and those taken at night. This was made possible by DIGIC fully drawing out the capabilities of the high-sensitivity image sensor with increased light-gathering capability.
DIGIC 5*5 has further increased the speed of image processing, while also providing higher image quality to augment l functionality such as Scene Detection technology. Of these, the performance of noise reduction for only reducing the noise component while maintaining definition when shooting at high ISO speeds has been dramatically improved. It is also possible to correct dark areas to prevent unnatural transitions from bright to dark within an image. Moreover, it also enables the use of Multi-Area White Balance which adjusts the overall image to match natural light even when there are two light sources with different color temperatures, such as a fluorescent lamp and a mercury lamp. This is achieved by dividing the image into several areas and determining the type of light source based on the color information for each area.
DIGIC 5 Image Processor
Multi-Area White Balance
- *4 Image processor
A micro-computer that integrates a CPU, memory to house processing programs, a timer function, and input/output onto a single integrated circuit. Because high-speed image signal processing is necessary in digital cameras, Canon has made an effort to incorporate signal processing into an LSI since when it was common to use software to perform signal processing, and this has enabled faster signal processing, higher image quality and higher functionality in its digital cameras.
- *5 DIGIC 5
DIGIC 5 is the latest version of Canon's DIGIC image processor, which is used in Canon's PowerShot, PowerShot ELPH(IXUS), and EOS-series cameras. DIGIC is a high-performance image processor with functions to process from low-end devices to high-end devices, customized to provide the best optimal performance in every individual camera model in which it is used.
Face, Motion and Scene Detection Technology
Three Core Technologies Supporting Shooting at Optimal Settings
Canon's digital compact cameras incorporate technologies enabling easy shooting of beautiful photos by automatically detecting the optimal settings for various subjects, movements and scenes.
Face Detection technology, which can recognize human faces in a picture and adjust such factors as focus and exposure accordingly through a combination of a face detection algorithm based on the features of people's faces and iSAPS technology. Up to 35 faces can be detected in a frame, of which up to 9 can be tracked on the LCD monitor.
Motion Detection technology responds to movement of the subject. It determines whether or not the subject is moving, immediately detects the speed and direction of movement, and limits the effect of blurring of the subject as much as possible by selecting the optimal ISO sensitivity, shutter speed and f/ number (aperture).
Scene Detection technology automatically determines the type of scene being shot. It determines optimal settings based on a comprehensive set of information including brightness and contrast of the subject, distance to the subject and color of the entire image.
Canon's compact digital cameras combine these three image detection technologies to provide the Smart Auto function. Up to 32 types of scene can be automatically identified simply by pointing the camera at the subject, and the brightness and color are adjusted to match the scene.
Overview of Scene Detection Technology
Sharp Focus and Optimal Exposure for Registrants with Face ID
Canon's face detection algorithm has evolved further. With the new Face ID function built into the Smart Auto mode, the camera automatically detects pre-registered certain people when shooting, and adjusts the focus and exposure to the optimal settings for that registrantson a priority basis.
Up to twelve people can be registered on one camera. Subjects are registered by face, name, and birth date and classified into three age categories: Babies under two years old, Children between two and 12, or Adults over 13. When the camera recognizes a subject as a child, it automatically switches to Servo AF mode to make sure that the focus and exposure keep up with the subject even in motion.
Classification Table Showing 58 Available Scenes
Advanced Subject Detection that Follows the Subject
Canon has developed a new algorithm that further evolves Face Detection technology to provide Advanced Subject Detection, which supports not only human faces, but also animals and vehicles. The camera automatically detects the main subject and focuses upon it, displaying a frame around it on the LCD monitor. Furthermore, if it is moving, autofocus tracks it, and both focus and exposure continue to be adjusted while the shutter button is held halfway.
Advanced Subject Detection
Smart Flash Exposure Effective in Backlit and Dark Scenes
Flash control technology based on Face, Motion and Scene Detection technology is called Smart Flash Exposure, in which the camera automatically controls a comprehensive range of variables such as the amount of light emitted, shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity under backlit or dark conditions. For example, when there is a difference in the distance to the subject and the background in a dark room, this provides a balanced image by brightening the background and preventing blown highlights on the subject.
Smart Flash Exposure
Realizing High-Speed, High-Precision Control
Over many years of camera development, Canon has gathered a vast amount of photographic data, creating a database with extensive statistical analyses of the correlations between focal length or zoom position, surrounding brightness, and subject-to-camera distance.
Making use of this Photographic Space database, Canon developed iSAPS (intelligent Scene Analysis based on Photographic Space) technology, which predicts the scene a user is about to photograph and promptly selects the optimal settings for key functions. This technology combines shooting parameters from recently taken shots with the camera's built-in data to estimate the distance between the camera and the subject, improve AF (Auto Focus)*6 precision and speed, and enable optimal AE (Auto Exposure) and AWB (Auto White Balance) performance.*7
Conceptualization of Photographic Space
- *6 iSAPS high-speed AF
iSAPS AF predicts the focus setting based on previously shot scenes, reducing the time required for focusing.
- *7 iSAPS intelligent AE/ AWB
iSAPS AE/AWB applies optimized algorithms for each shot according to the shooting mode selected by the user, which minimizes mistakes thanks to more precise exposure and white balance matched to the selected shooting mode and surrounding environment.