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Compared to... Panasonic FujiFilm S8000fd and Lumix DMC-FZ18

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Fujifilm Finepix S8000fd, the Panasonic DMC-FZ18 and the Olympus SP-560UZ at ISO 1600.

Studio scene comparison (@ ISO 1600)

  • Olympus SP-560UZ : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.7 EV compensation

  • Panasonic DMC-FZ18: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.66 EV compensation

  • Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
     
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI

Note: ND4 filter (2 stops) used on all three cameras.

Olympus SP-560UZ
Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Fujifilm S8000fd

ISO 1600, 1/250 sec, F5 ND4

ISO 1600, 1/250 sec, F4.5 ND4

ISO 1600, 1/320 sec, F4.5 ND4
2,805 KB JPEG
2,455 KB JPEG
3,084 KB JPEG

Oh dear, it's all gone a bit wrong for all three cameras at ISO 1600. The choice between the cameras is not so much about choosing the one with the best image quality but choosing the method by which you least mind your image being degraded. The Panasonic has removed all its detail and any concept of edges with extreme noise reduction. Splodges of chroma noise finish the image off. The Fuji appears to smudge and then re-sharpen the image, to add emphasis to the distortion it has created. At lower ISO settings this produces a not unpleasant 'grain.' Here there are no such kindly euphemistic ways of describing the detritus that results. To be fair, at very small print size, the Fuji would probably produce the most attractive print.

Which just leaves the Olympus, which sits between the two - losing a lot of contrast and saturation means that any print is going to look washed out no matter how small, though with a little post processing (including some sharpening) you'd probably be able to produce a result that matches the Fuji effort.

Frankly you would have to be in a charitable mood to put inclusion of these ISO 1600 modes down to optimism, rather than downright dishonesty. But the really embarrassing thing is that these aren't even the highest settings - the ones that are trumpeted on the adverts and promotional materials. Each of these manufacturers promotes these models as being capable of taking pictures at even higher sensitivities than this. And this is true, to the extent that you can press the shutter button and record a file onto your memory card, but the results are so poor that it makes no sense to analyze them using terminology that relates to image quality.

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