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Compared to... Canon PowerShot G9

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Nikon Coolpix P5100 and the Canon PowerShot G9 at ISO 1600.

Studio scene comparison ( @ ISO 1600)

  • Nikon Coolpix P5100 : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.7 EV compensation
  • Canon PowerShot G9: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.67 EV compensation
     
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI

Note: ND4 filter (2 stops) used on the lens in both these examples.

Nikon Coolpix P5100
Canon PowerShot G9
ISO 1600, 1/280 sec, F4.4 ND4 Filter
ISO 1600, 1/800 sec, F5
4,691 KB JPEG
5,718 KB JPEG

At ISO 1600 the Nikon shows very obvious chroma and luminance noise, with aberrant color and grain both featuring prominently. The Canon has taken a different approach; upping its noise reduction level to the point that much of the fine detail has just become smeared. Chroma noise is still fairly well controlled in the G9 but that's little consolation. The two manufacturers have come down on opposite sides of the noise vs noise reduction dilemma but neither approach produces particularly desirable results. The Canon - obviously aware that the sensor has already been pushed to breaking point - gives up at ISO 1600 (amazingly it's unusual these days for compact cameras to stop this 'low').

The Nikon gamely soldiers on for another third of a stop (to ISO 2000), before resorting to pixel binning for its ISO 3200 mode (at 5MP). The results are pretty much as you'd expect, with still more noise and increasingly muted colors at ISO 2000 (Click here for the test shot), and a smudged ISO 3200 that can only be described as phone camera-esque (Click here to view).

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