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Superzoom camera group: Studio comparison (base ISO)

On this page you'll find our standard studio comparison shot 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 with the zoom set to approx. 80-95mm (equivalent).
  • Manual white balance
  • Aperture Priority or Manual mode (~ F4.0)
  • Base ISO (lowest setting)
  • Luminance matched (middle gray ~L50)
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI

Base ISO studio comparison:

All digital cameras produce their best output at the lowest ISO setting, and this is particularly true of compacts, where the very small sensors and high pixel densities mean that noise becomes an issue as soon as you start to move up the ISO range. We use this studio test as a quick and easy way to get an overall impression of what each camera's sensor and lens are capable of, particularly in respect to resolution, edge-to-edge sharpness and contrast.

It's worth mentioning that you need to be aware that the 100% crops shown here (and the full resolution images if you choose to download them) are slightly unrepresentative of the kind of enlargement at which typical users of compact cameras will be viewing their photographs. With 10 million pixels, for example, the 100% crops are roughly the same as looking quite closely at a print around 50 inches across.

If you're only ever going to produce 5x7 inch prints the best way to assess each camera is to download the full resolution images on this page (and elsewhere in the group test) and produce some prints yourself - or simply look at them on-screen at a lower magnification (if they look ok to you when reduced to fill a 20" screen you'll be happy with standard sized prints from them).

Canon SX20 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH25
ISO 100
FujiFilm HS10
ISO 100
FujiFilm S2500HD
ISO 100
Kodak Z981
ISO 64
Nikon P100
ISO 160
Panasonic FZ35
ISO 80
Pentax X90
ISO 80
Samsung HZ25W
ISO 64

100% crops: center

Canon SX20 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH25
ISO 100
FujiFilm HS10
ISO 100
FujiFilm S2500HD
ISO 100
Kodak Z981
ISO 64
Nikon P100
ISO 160
Panasonic FZ35
ISO 80
Pentax X90
ISO 80
Samsung HZ25W
ISO 64

Inevitably producing a lens with a zoom range of up to 30x involves a certain amount of compromise and the image quality will vary across the zoom range. However, at the focal length that we have chosen for this test (approximately 80-95mm) cameras of this kind would typically produce optimal results and this is no different for our candidates. In terms of sharpness and detail the differences between any of the cameras here are very small but at a 100% magnification certainly visible. The Panasonic FZ35 is on top of the leader board showing an amount of detail that would challenge quite a few entry-level DSLRs. At the other end of the scale you'll find the Pentax and the two Fujifilms which all loose some detail through processing and/or noise reduction (the S2500HD more than the others). The other cameras are somewhere in between and all very close.

Overall the differences between these images are only visible at large magnifications and at half-screen-size it would be almost impossible to pick a winner.

100% crops: Edge

Canon SX20 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH25
ISO 100
FujiFilm HS10
ISO 100
FujiFilm S2500HD
ISO 100
Kodak Z981
ISO 64
Nikon P100
ISO 160
Panasonic FZ35
ISO 80
Pentax X90
ISO 80
Samsung HZ25W
ISO 64

Moving nearer to the edge of the images we can see that most of the competitors deliver good results across the frame. Only the Pentax X90 and Fujifilm S2500HD have quite soft edges, on the left side of the frame in both cases. The same is true, although to a lesser degree, for the Kodak Z981. Again the Panasonic FZ35 is the best here.

100% crops: low contrast detail

Canon SX20 IS
ISO 80
Casio EX-FH25
ISO 100
FujiFilm HS10
ISO 64
FujiFilm S2500HD
ISO 100
Kodak Z981
ISO 100
Nikon P100
ISO 64
Panasonic FZ35
ISO 100
Pentax X90
ISO 100
Samsung HZ25W
ISO 100

The crops above show the effects of noise reduction on fine low-contrast detail such as you might find in hair or distant foliage. Again, there are only fairly small differences between the cameras that you'd only be able to spot in large prints. Nevertheless the Fujifilm S2500 is arguably the worst offender blurring more detail than most of its rivals. Please note that the Kodak Z981 does not offer a manual white balance feature and therefore produces a slightly different color response to the competition.

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