Comparison Canon SD950 IS (=Ixus 960 IS), G9, 40D&17-55 f/2.8 IS and Panasonic LX3

Started Oct 5, 2008 | Discussions thread
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sven rose
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Comparison Canon SD950 IS (=Ixus 960 IS), G9, 40D&17-55 f/2.8 IS and Panasonic LX3
Oct 5, 2008

The LX3 was my latest purchase. On a first impression I was very pleased with the ergonomic especially as I shot the most of the time in aperture priority mode and the important controls are very good implemented. Love the live histogram too. Bu I was disappointed with the image quality, especially when I look at pictures like this:

Settings of the JPEG files are always hight quality. Most of the time the default picture option are used (contrast, saturation, color, noise reduction - which can be adjusted separately - very nice!). All pictures can be seen or downloaded in full resolution at

http://svenrose.smugmug.com/gallery/6140542_e56zc//386536603_NQuPB

The smeared details are easily seen. Here some crop to point this out:

I was interested to compare this finding with my other cameras and make some in the field comparisons.

Side by side comparison, no post processing of the pictures:

First the picture from the LX3. It is a little zoomed in to match the focal length of the other cameras):

from the SD 950 IS:

from the G9:

There is some dust in the objective and this deteriorate the picture (artifacts in the sky).

and from the 40D with the 17-55 f/2.8 IS

Now some crops to see the details, fist a crop of the center of the pictures:

The IXUS 960 IS (SD950 IS) shines. The result is nothing short of stunning, as details are slightly better then with the 40D with the best zoom in its range. The higher in camera sharpening and contrast of the Ixus is not the reason of this findings.

The LX3 and the G9 plays in an other, lower league with a slight advantage for the G9. This findings are see in other crops:

This is perhaps the most revealing comparison. Again the result of the ultracompact camera Ixus 960 IS is breathtaking - I could be in doubt, if my 17-55 zoom is not a bad copy... The thing is, that the Ixus make me stunning a while before this comparison and it compete well with my other lenses, especially in macro mode it's seems as good as the 40D with the 100 f/2.8 macro prime lens. Only with the 70-200 f/4L IS (perhaps the sharpest zoom in this range on the market) there is a clear difference in image quality...

Another crop, which shows the same findings:

Just a comparison of the 40D&17-55 f/2.8 IS and the Ixus 960 IS:

The crop shows it again: slight better resolution details with the Ixus...

For me at this time, the G9 was out of the race. The question was, how does the LX3 compare with the Ixus 960 IS in low light situation?

This picture was taken with the LX3, the Ixus 960 IS and the 40D (here the picture of the Ixus):

and now some crops:

The picture at 1/10s of the Ixus shows by far the best result- stunning again. But the Ixus work here at his limit. There is room of two steps of higher ISO to reach faster aperture time. The LX3 has a little more room to play with (greater aperture). And of course the 40D shoots here at 1/64s at f/4 - so it's not at its limit. For playing kids in low light for example the Ixus can't do without flash.

Now there is the question, if the LX3 could be a good performer when using the RAW-mode.

First picture is taken in best JPEG-quality and with automatic white balance, the second was taken in RAW mode and post processed with the included software on the CD:

The RAW-mode shows a much better result, but at the cost of more noise. Especially the color rendering is much better.

Another comparison of JPEG and RAW of the LX3:

RAW

JPG

To make it short here some more comparisons, and one also with picture of the Ixus as reference:

Now I have to come to a conclusion:

The image quality of the Ixus 960 IS (=SD 950 IS) is outstanding and it should be written much more about this issue. Because my F30 is broken, I can't make a direct comparison. But I guess, the Ixus with 12 MP compare to 6MP is better at low ISO. The color rendering of the Ixus in different situation is very reliable and much better then of the LX3. The Ixus should have more manual mode and settings, and a flash shoe - and why not a wide angle, if the image quality don't suffer.

The LX3 is very nice to work with, the ergonomic is great. The wide angle and the fast high-quality lens (f/2.0-2.8) are really exquisite features. A huge drawback is the overall image quality, but with the RAW-mode there is some room to avoid the worst effect of in camera processing.

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