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JPEG/TIFF Image Size & Quality

The Coolpix 5400 provides no less than five image size options in combination with three JPEG quality settings and a TIFF mode (available to all image sizes). There was a small outcry on our own Nikon Talk Forum shortly after Nikon published the specifications for the Coolpix 5400 because it doesn't have a RAW image format. The 'digital negative' RAW format was added to the Coolpix 5000 some months after release by a firmware update, Nikon are now saying that the same will happen for the 5400 some time in early 2004. In my opinion this is a mistake on Nikon's part, the camera should be shipping with RAW format.


Standard Test Scene

To give an impression of what some of the combinations of image size and quality produce the table below is a cross reference of some of them:

  • 2592 x 1944 TIFF
  • 2592 x 1944 Fine
  • 2592 x 1944 Normal
  • 2592 x 1944 Basic
  • 1600 x 1200 Fine
  • 1024 x 768 Fine
  • 640 x 480 Fine

Images below are cropped 240 x 100 area of the image magnified 200% (nearest neighbour).


 
2592 x 1944
TIFF
14,874 KB TIFF - not available for download
Fine
JPEG

2,499 KB
Normal
JPEG

983 KB
Basic
JPEG

535 KB
 

 
1600 x 1200
Fine
JPEG

650 KB
 

 
1280 x 960

Fine
JPEG


469 KB
 

 
1024 x 768

Fine
JPEG



302 KB
 

 
640 x 480

Fine
JPEG


128 KB

As you can see the full resolution (2592 x 1944) Fine JPEG image exhibits no visible JPEG artifacts and even side-by-side comparisons of it against the TIFF image shows virtually no loss in detail. Moving down the quality levels (and increasing the compression) we can clearly see an increase in JPEG artifacts and a loss of detail in the form of 'smoothing', very visible on the watch face. I was disappointed to see such visible artifacts at lower resolutions and the poor quality of the interpolation algorithm used by Nikon to produce the lower resolution images, it almost looks like a nearest neighbour algorithm.


Image Parameters

The Coolpix 5400 provides control over three different parameters associated with the cameras internal 'post-shot' image processing algorithms. These are Contrast (labeled 'Image Adjustment'), Saturation (Color) and Sharpening. Each of these three parameters can be set independently to best suit your preferred 'look' or the type of shot. In addition Image Adjustment and Sharpening can be set to 'Auto' which allows the camera to subtly adjust the contrast and sharpening applied to each image.

Nikon provide a relatively good range of adjustment for each parameter, it may have been more logical to simply have the three menu options together and provide +/-2 or +/-3 levels of adjustment for each setting rather than using labels such as 'More', 'Less', 'Moderate' etc.

Image Adjustment (Contrast)

Auto Normal More Contrast
   
Less Contrast    

Saturation (Color)

+2 Maximum +1 Enhanced 0 Normal
-1 Moderate -2 Minimum Black & White

Sharpening

Auto
High
Normal
Low
Off
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