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Superzoom camera group: Studio comparison (high ISO)

For our high ISO studio comparison we chose to use ISO 1600 - beyond this few compacts produce output that is usable, and most will only shoot higher ISO's at a reduced pixel size.

On this page you'll find our standard studio comparison shot taken with each of the cameras in the group. Click on the thumbnail to see the full image.

  • All taken from the same tripod position with the zoom set to approx. 55-70mm (equivalent).
  • Manual white balance
  • Aperture Priority or Manual mode (~ F5.0)
  • ISO 1600
  • Luminance matched (middle gray ~L50)
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI

ISO 1600 studio comparison:

High ISO settings allow you to shoot in low light without using a tripod or the flash and has become one of the key differentiators between digital SLRs (which are usually pretty good at higher sensitivity settings) and compacts (which aren't).

Since (with current technology) the combination of high pixel counts and small sensors inevitably results in high ISO noise (and there's not a huge difference between the various makes), what we're looking at here is how well each camera's processor deals with it, and how well the result balances the need to reduce/remove noise and the desire to retain fine detail.

Heavy, unsophisticated noise reduction also removes lots of detail from the image, but if the noise reduction is too low you'll get so much noise that it will appear even in the smallest print.

Canon SX10 IS
ISO 1600
FujiFilm S2000HD
ISO 1600
FujiFilm S8100fd
ISO 1600
Nikon P80
ISO 1600
Olympus SP-565UZ
ISO 1600
Panasonic FZ28
ISO 1600
Sony H50
ISO 1600

100% crops: center

Canon SX10 IS
ISO 1600
FujiFilm S2000HD
ISO 1600
FujiFilm S8100fd
ISO 1600
Nikon P80
ISO 1600
Olympus SP-565UZ
ISO 1600
Panasonic FZ28
ISO 1600
Sony H50
ISO 1600

The biggest compromise you have to accept when buying a superzoom compact is that in order to keep the size manageable the designers have to use a very small sensor (the exception, Fujifilm's S100FS, is considerably larger than any of the cameras here - getting close to DSLR territory). Superzooms aren't immune to the creeping megapixel syndrome that has infected the entire digital camera market, and high pixels counts plus small sensors does not make a happy combination, meaning few can produce anything approach acceptable results at ISO settings above 400.

We're not just talking about 'pixel peeping' here; the loss of detail, sharpness and color fidelity is extreme, and even in a small print the output looks unimpressive. For snaps of friends and family in low light you'll probably get away with it (the need for fine detail isn't great in a close portrait), but for anything else you're likely to be disappointed with the results.

100% crops: Edge

Canon SX10 IS
ISO 1600
FujiFilm S2000HD
ISO 1600
FujiFilm S8100fd
ISO 1600
Nikon P80
ISO 1600
Olympus SP-565UZ
ISO 1600
Panasonic FZ28
ISO 1600
Sony H50
ISO 1600

The previous crop showed what noise reduction does to areas of fine low contrast detail. In our edge crop the edges are far more clearly defined and some of the cameras do a slightly better job than others. The best - in terms of detail retained - is probably the Panasonic FZ8, followed closely by the Canon SX10 IS. It's hard to pick the worst (or best for that matter) from the Olympus SP-565, Sony H50, Nikon P80 or Fujifilm S8100fd; all are pretty unpleasant. The Fujifilm S2000HD sits roughly in the middle; there's very little fine detail, but at least it looks sharp in small prints.

Higher ISO settings

With high ISO one of the buzzwords of 2008 most mid-range and high end compacts offer at least one higher sensitivity setting. Given what we've just seen above it's probably best not to expect miracles at even higher IS0 settings, and to take any marketing claims with a hefty pinch of salt. Below you'll find our standard studio comparison shot taken with each of the cameras in the group at its highest ISO setting (where a setting above ISO 1600 is offered). Click on the thumbnail to see the full image.

* These images use pixel binning to combine several pixels into one to increase sensitivity at a considerably reduced resolution

Canon SX10 IS
ISO 3200 *
Fujifilm S2000HD
ISO 6400 *
Nikon Coolpix P80
ISO 2000
Nikon Coolpix P80
ISO 6400 *
Olympus SP-565 UZ
ISO 6400 *
Sony Cyber-shot H50
ISO 3200

There's not a lot you can say about these results; the cameras that use pixel binning produce results contain little of the detail in the original scene (the Canon SX10 is the best, but since ISO 3200 is only available as a scene mode you can't control white balance or set your own exposure). It's a toss up between the Fujifilm S2000HD and the Olympus SP-565 over which is worst.

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Comments

Chiemba
By Chiemba (Sep 9, 2013)

My Lumix Fz28 has my picture images hostage SMILE .. I took pictures at granny's party and when I upload the images only a few showed . But when I put the sd card back into the camera I can see all 85 pictures . During my picture taking I change the setting and all pictures after that won't upload . But again I can see them all in my Fz28 .
How do I up load all of my images ?
Thanks in Advance
Chiemba E

0 upvotes