SD4000 vs S90 vs ZS6 - Evening indoor shots

Started Jun 13, 2010 | Discussions thread
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SD4000 vs S90 vs ZS6 - Evening indoor shots
Jun 13, 2010

As many of you know I have been playing with the SD4000 for a couple of weeks now. I have largely been quite pleased with it. I also picked up a Lumix DMC-ZS6 to try a few days ago. Finally today, I had a discount coupon and some Reward Zone cash from Best Buy and was able to get the price of the S90 to be $10 less than the SD4000, so I was very excited to purchase it and try it out.

To be as fair as possible in testing and emulate how I intend to use a camera the majority of the time, I set the cameras to Auto as use the same series of indoor shots. I cannot guarantee that I will be standing in precisely the same location, take the shot at precisely the same time of day or have the zoom set precisely the same. So there are inevitably those minor differences.

After a few (well actually 75) quick shots tonight on the S90 I have a few thoughts. The SD4000 has the softest focus and the S90 clearly has the sharpest, though the ZS6 is a very close second to the S90.

The ZS6 is quite good outside, but highlights are very easily blown out even on a cloudy day. It is pretty much worthless inside, especially in the evening with normal lighting. I had tried a ZS3 about 6 months ago and came to the same conclusion then. The colors even outdoors seem somewhat dull and not quite natural

Now to the S90. My first shots are certainly not my last with this camera, but considering how owners and reviewers rave about it I have to say I was very disappointed. At my house in the evening with normal residential lighting, the SD4000 pretty much blew it out of the water. Really. While the images from the S90 are generally a bit sharper focus than those from the SD4000 that was really the only area where the S90 won out.

In the vast majority of the shots, the colors on the SD4000 are much more natural. To be fair, the S90 beat the SD4000 in a couple of shots where the SD4000 does not do well. When set to Auto, the S90 struggled with white balance in almost every room and absolutely could not get the white balance correct in my family room, which is where most “family” photos and snapshots are taken. This is the room where “Auto” most needs to work for me so when others pick up the camera they literally can point-and-shoot. I should note that switching to Program Mode and manually selecting the Tungsten white balance preset fixed that. Finally, NOISE! The ZS6 exhibits high levels of noise in indoor shots and the S90 was really just about as bad. The SD4000, at least in the comparable indoor samples I have taken from all 3 cameras, has the cleanest images overall by far. And finally, of the three cameras the basic operation of turning on, acquiring focus, writing the photo to memory after taken, etc. was by far and away the slowest on the S90. My quota is currently used up, or I would post a few photos. The operational speed of the ZS6 and SD4000 seem pretty comparable, through writing images on the ZS6 seems a tad slower.

Tomorrow I will get some outdoor shots for comparison. I hope the S90 fairs better outdoors than it did in.

So the basic question is...would others select a slightly sharper focus or accept a slightly softer focus but have less noise and more accurate color?


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