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Budget camera group: Real world comparison

On this page you'll find the first of our 'real world' comparison shots 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 at approximately 35mm equivalent focal length
  • Auto White Balance and auto (program) exposure
  • Base ISO (lowest setting)

Base ISO Landscape comparison (all cameras at approx 35mm equivalent focal length)

Canon PowerShot A470
ISO 80
Canon PowerShot A590 IS
ISO 80
Kodak EasyShare C1013
ISO 64
Fujifilm Z20fd
ISO 64

Nikon L18
ISO 64

Olympus FE-360
ISO 64
Panasonic DMC-LZ8
ISO 100
Samsung L210
ISO 80

Sony Cybershot W120
ISO 100

Base ISO Landscape 100% crops:

Canon PowerShot A470
ISO 80
Canon PowerShot A590 IS
ISO 80
Kodak EasyShare C1013 *1
ISO 64
Fujifilm Z20fd
ISO 64

Nikon L18
ISO 64

Olympus FE-360
ISO 64
Panasonic DMC-LZ8
ISO 100
Samsung L210
ISO 80
Sony Cybershot W120
ISO 100

I should start by making clear that - this being November and it being the UK, the shots above have lighting that varies slightly from camera to camera (the wind was blowing quite hard on the one 'blue sky day' we had, so the clouds were moving very quickly). Looking at the detail in these crops (from near the center of the frame) it's obvious that there isn't a massive difference between most of the cameras in this group, with a lot of it down to the amount of sharpening applied in-camera.

The best detail comes from the two Canon PowerShots, the Sony W120 and the Panasonic LZ8 with the Samsung L210 not far behind (though the latter has a slightly plasticy 'over processed' appearance). The other four cameras produce images that are slightly softer, though unless you're looking to produce hefty enlargements the difference isn't great. In terms of overall color the output is similar, though not identical; the Fujifilm Z20fd gave the least pleasing color (a bit too cool/blue), and we weren't that impressed by the Olympus FE-360 either (the blue sky has a slight magenta tinge), but there's little to choose between the rest of them.

Telephoto (long end of zoom)

This is less of a direct comparison as the cameras have slightly different focal length ranges, but gives you an idea of the kind of range offered (these were shot from the same tripod position as the previous shots).

Canon PowerShot A470
132mm (eqiv.)
Canon PowerShot A590 IS
140mm (eqiv.)
Kodak EasyShare C1013
102mm (eqiv.)
Fujifilm Z20fd
105mm (eqiv.)

Nikon L18
105mmmm (eqiv.)

Olympus FE-360
108mm (eqiv.)
Panasonic DMC-LZ8
160mm (eqiv.)
Samsung L210
111mm (eqiv.)
Sony Cybershot W120
128mm (eqiv.)

The Panasonic LZ8, with its 5x zoom has the clear advantage here, though the Canon A590IS (4x zoom) also offers a little more reach than is normal at this end of the market. Most of the cameras are a little softer at the long end of the zoom, though the Canon A590 IS and the Pansonic LZ8 fare slightly better than the others with only the slightest drop in resolution.

Wideangle

Two of the cameras in this group offer a slightly wider angle of view, something incredibly useful when shooting sweeping scenic shots such as this, when trying to fit a large group of people into the frame or when shooting interiors. It's rare to get a really wide lens on a budget camera, but the Panasonic LZ8 and Sony W120 both have zoom that start at a 32mm equivalent focal length (with the Panasonic combining this with a 6x zoom - impressive for a camera at this level).

The remaining cameras in the group vary from 35mm to 38mm. This might not sound like much, but 32mm (equiv.) gives you an angle of view of just under 74 degrees (diagonally), compared to only 68.7° with a 38mm (equiv.) lens - this might be enough to make the difference between getting everyone in the shot and losing Uncle Fred off the edge of the frame. For a true wideangle (28mm or less) you really need to be spending a little more than any of the cameras here.

Panasonic DMC-LZ8
32mm (eqiv.)
Sony Cybershot W120
32mm (eqiv.)
 
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