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Premium 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 SD880 IS
(Ixus 870 IS)
ISO 80
Fujifilm F100fd
ISO 100
Nikon Coolpix S710
ISO 100
Panasonic Lumix FX150
ISO 100
Samsung NV100HD
(TL34 HD)
ISO 80
Sony Cyber-shot W300
ISO 80

Base ISO Landscape 100% crops:

Canon SD880 IS (Ixus 870 IS)
ISO 80
Fujifilm F100fd
ISO 100
Nikon Coolpix S710
ISO 100
Panasonic Lumix FX150
ISO 100
Samsung NV100HD
(TL34 HD)
ISO 80
Sony Cyber-shot W300
ISO 80

As with the other group tests 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). Since this particular shoot also lasted a couple of hours there's a slight variation in the position of the sun too.

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 biggest exception is the Samsung NV100HD, which as we saw in the studio test, applies heavy noise reduction even at base ISO, smearing detail and removing texture from the shot. The Nikon S710 isn't great either, certainly not when viewed this close.

That said, at normal viewing magnifications you're more likely to see exposure and color variations than small sharpness / detail differences, so how do the nine models in this group compare in this respect? In all cases the answer is very well; although (as mentioned in the studio test section) there are slight differences in saturation and contrast, in truth there's little to tell these results apart as all have excellent exposure and white balance with natural colors. Assessed visually the Samsung is the least appealing, thanks to the rather excessive saturation and rather harsh highlights (of all the cameras the NV100HD's shot is the only one that looks like the metering could've done a better job), but it's the consistency of output across all six cameras that is most noteworthy.

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 SD880 IS
(Ixus 870 IS)
112mm equiv.
Fujifilm F100fd
140mm equiv.
Nikon Coolpix S710
101mm equiv.
Panasonic Lumix FX150
100mm equiv.
Samsung NV100HD
(TL34 HD)
102mm equiv.
Sony Cyber-shot W300
105mm equiv.

Although wide lenses are becoming more common in this class of camera, only one of this group, the Fujifilm F100fd, offers any more at the telephoto end of the zoom, going all the way to 140mm (equiv.) for a total 5x range. All six cameras produce sharp, detailed images at the long end of the zoom and all offer some form of optical or mechanical image stabilization, so with these modest telephotos camera shake shouldn't be an issue in normal daylight.

Wideangle

All but one of the cameras in this group offers a zoom lens that starts at what we would consider to be a true wide angle, equivalent to 28mm on a conventional 135 film camera. Compared to the 35 - 38mm starting point of many cheaper compacts (and most compacts a couple of years ago) this extra 10-15 degrees or so makes a significant difference when shooting scenery, large groups of people or cramped interiors.

Canon SD880 IS
(Ixus 870 IS)
28mm equiv.
Fujifilm F100fd
28mm equiv.
Nikon Coolpix S710
28mm equiv.
Panasonic Lumix FX150
28mm equiv.
Samsung NV100HD
(TL34 HD)
28mm equiv.
 

We were pleased to see that all five cameras actually suffered very little from the soft edges that plagued early wideangle lenses on compact cameras, with only the Nikon Coolpix S710 showing a drop in sharpness compared to the center of the frame.

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