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Compared to... Fujifilm FinePix S9500 (S9000)

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Panasonic DMC-FZ50 and the FinePix S9500 at ISO 1600.

Note: Due to limitations on the highest shutter speed you can use on the FZ50 at wider apertures, the ISO 1600 comparison was taken with an ND4 (2 stop) filter attached to the lens.

Studio scene comparison (@ ISO 1600)

  • Panasonic DMC-FZ50 : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.66 EV compensation
     
  • Fujifilm FinePix S9500 Zoom: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.3 EV compensation
     
  • Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI.
Panasonic DMC-FZ50
Fujifilm FinePix S9500
ISO 1600, 1/320 sec, F5.0
ISO 1600, 1/950 sec, F5.6
3,900 KB JPEG
4,434 KB JPEG

ISO 1600 is pushing things for both cameras, but the FZ50 is far worse, with an image that looks like a giant version of a camera phone shot. Panasonic's engineers obviously knew that everyone was putting full resolution high ISO modes on their cameras this year, and felt obliged to join in. My advice? Why not just throw your hands up in defeat and admit you're fighting the laws of physics, use pixel-binning and offer a 2MP high ISO mode that actually looks half decent and is fine for standard-sized prints? This is just clogging up my SD card with a smeary mess. I accept that shooting at ISO 1600 (which can be nice if you don't want to use the flash at evening social events) is always going to be a compromise, and I'd rather you got all those pixels to work together to produce a decent, small image than a terrible big one. There is also an ISO 3200 option (in High Sensitivity mode) that's even worse; it uses pixel binning then re-interpolates the image back up to 10 million pixels... madness! (click here to see the ISO 3200 studio shot).

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