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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (higher sensitivity JPEGs)

The thinking behind the S90, G11 and LX3 is fundamentally the same: using fewer, better pixels on a small sensor to give a better balance between resolution and sensitivity/ Canon has made a lot of noise about the 'high sensitivity' 1/1.7" CCD that lies at the heart of the S90 (and the G11), talking in much the same way Panasonic did when launching the LX3. We presume that the GXR 24-70/S10 unit uses the same Sony CCD as the two Canons (the spec - including the inability to shoot HD video - appears to suggest it is).

ISO 800

Canon PowerShot S90
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Canon PowerShot G11
Ricoh GXR/S10 24-70mm

ISO 1600

Canon PowerShot S90
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Canon PowerShot G11
Ricoh GXR/S10 24-70mm

ISO 3200

Canon PowerShot S90
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Canon PowerShot G11
Ricoh GXR/S10 24-70mm

The truth is that there's not a lot to choose between the JPEG output of of the two Canons and the LX3 at ISO 400 or 800 (it's a matter of taste how much noise reduction you like). At ISO 1600 the Canons pull ahead slightly simply because there's so much noise that Panasonic's light-handed approach to noise reduction bears little fruit in terms of extra detail. None are producing anything very impressive at ISO 3200, though for a small print the Canon approach (lots of noise reduction) is probably going to produce the marginally more appealing result. In all cases the Ricoh trails far behind thanks to its splotchy, smeary noise processing.

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