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Superzoom camera group: Studio comparison (base ISO)

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. 60-70mm (equivalent).
  • Manual white balance (except Olympus Stylus 9000 which does not offer this feature)
  • Program mode P
  • Base ISO (lowest setting)
  • Luminance matched (middle gray ~L50)
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI

Base ISO studio comparison:

All digital cameras produce their best output at the lowest ISO setting, and this is particularly true of compacts, where the very small sensors mean that noise becomes an issue as soon as you start to move up the ISO range (and high pixel densities make this a particular problem at the pixel level). We use this studio test as a quick and easy way to get an overall impression of what each camera's sensor and lens are capable of, particularly in respect to resolution, edge-to-edge sharpness and contrast.

It's worth mentioning that you need to be aware that the 100% crops shown here (and the full resolution images if you choose to download them) are slightly unrepresentative of the kind of enlargement at which typical users of compact cameras will be viewing their photographs. Even with the lowest resolution files here, for example, examination of the 100% crops is equivalent to looking at a 4-foot wide print from a couple of inches away.

If you're only ever going to produce 5x7 inch prints the best way to assess each camera is to download the full resolution images on this page (and elsewhere in the group test) and produce some prints yourself - or simply look at them on-screen at a lower magnification. If they look acceptable to you when reduced to fill a computer screen you'll almost certainly be happy with standard sized prints from them.

Canon SX210 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH100
ISO 100
Fujifilm F80 EXR
ISO 100
Fujifilm JZ500
ISO 100
Kodak Z950
ISO 100
Nikon S8000
ISO 100
Olympus mju 9010
ISO 64
Panasonic DMC-ZS5
ISO 80
Ricoh CX3
ISO 80
Samsung HZ35W
ISO 80
Sony H55
ISO 80
Sony HX5
ISO 125

100% crops: center

Canon SX210 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH100
ISO 100
Fujifilm F80 EXR
ISO 100
Fujifilm JZ500
ISO 100
Kodak Z950
ISO 100
Nikon S8000
ISO 100
Olympus mju 9010
ISO 64
Panasonic DMC-ZS5
ISO 80
Ricoh CX3
ISO 80
Samsung HZ35W
ISO 80
Sony H55
ISO 80
Sony HX5
ISO 125

It has to be said that given their wide-ranging zoom lenses, and the inevitable compromises involved in such designs, none of the cameras in this test give what we would call 'poor' results at the center. The worst images come from the Olympus and Nikon, (which almost certainly use the same sensor) but the smearing and smudging of detail that is we're seeing at 100% is completely invisible in a standard-sized print. The sharpest results come from the Kodak Easyshare Z950 and the two Panasonics, although the advantage of the higher resolution 14 million-pixel CCD sensor in the Canon Powershot SX210IS is also apparent, in better definition of the foliage of this printed oak tree.

100% crops: Edge

Canon SX210 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH100
ISO 100
Fujifilm F80 EXR
ISO 100
Fujifilm JZ500
ISO 100
Kodak Z950
ISO 100
Nikon S8000
ISO 100
Olympus mju 9010
ISO 64
Panasonic DMC-ZS5
ISO 80
Ricoh CX3
ISO 80
Samsung HZ35W
ISO 80
Sony H55
ISO 80
Sony HX5
ISO 125

Towards the edge of the frame there is much more differentiation between the models in this test, and whilst none are dreadful, it is clear that some of their lenses are definitely better optimised than others. The Canon and Samsung's corner sharpness is impressive given the enormous reach of their lenses, whilst the Ricoh CX3 doesn't give great results, and shows the same smearing of detail that is apparent in the Olympus and Fujifilm JZ500. To any practical extent, however, all of the cameras here give good performance, and - again - the blurring that you can see in some of these crops is effectively invisible in a standard sized print.

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