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Waterproof camera group: Real world comparison

Below you'll find the second set of our 'real world' comparison shots 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 at approximately 38mm (35mm equiv.) focal length
  • Auto White Balance and auto (program) exposure
  • ISO 1600

Night Shot comparison (ISO 1600)

Canon D10 FujiFilm Z33 Olympus Tough 6000
Olympus Tough 8000 Pentax W60 Pentax W80
Panasonic TS1    
   

ISO 1600 night shot 100% crops:

Canon D10 FujiFilm Z33 Olympus Tough 6000
Olympus Tough 8000 Pentax W60 Pentax W80
Panasonic TS1    
   

In an ever-changing city there always seem to be renovations going on and in this case, when we went to test the W80 and TS1, the shooting spot that we'd previously used was fenced off due to road works. For this reason, the sample shots were taken from a slightly different position.

In the studio scene test we saw that none of these cameras performed remarkably well at ISO 1600, and it's the same situation with the night scene test. The Canon, Panasonic and Pentax W60 (all of which performed relatively well in the daylight test) apply quite a lot of noise reduction to the image, leaving them less noisy than the other three cameras in this test, but also destroying a fair amount of fine detail and leaving many noise reduction artefacts, which are most prominently seen in the sky area to the top left of the image. The best of the three is the TS1 which applies much less noise reduction than the D10 and manages to retain quite a lot of detail in the stonework.

The Olympus Tough 6000 leaves more detail, but also more noise grain in the image than either the Pentax or Canon. Which of these approaches is better is a personal preference, and in small prints or web sized images, either approach will produce a decent enough result (though for us it's always better to keep detail in images). It's worth noting that, as with most compacts, the noise reduction settings on these cameras are not changeable.

Of the three worst performers in this group - the Tough 8000, W80 and Z33, the Z33 and W80 manage to retain slightly more visible detail than the Tough 8000 (with the W80 showing the most chroma noise of the three), but they also shows a few more noise reduction artifacts. Noise levels for these three cameras are very similar.

This night shot scene not only tests the cameras ability to capture detail with as little noise as possible at ISO 1600, but also tests the dynamic range of the sensor. In the area of dynamic range all the sensors displayed about the same, with none of them being able to properly capture the contents of the brightly lit shop window to the bottom right of the frame.

Low light flash portrait comparison

Below you'll find the third set of our 'real world' comparison shots taken with each of the cameras in the group. Click on the thumbnail to see the full image.

One of the most common uses for compact cameras is for social 'snaps' of friends and family, and in anything but the brightest light this means using flash. This test allowed us to not only check each camera's flash performance, but also to find out how well they cope with focusing and face detection in more challenging conditions (a dimly lit bar in this case).

In the resultant shots we're primarily looking for accurate focus and exposure with pleasing color balance (flash can produce very cool / bluish results - not ideal for flattering skin tones). We're also looking at how well the red-eye reduction works (some cameras use a simple 'pre flash' system, others actually find and remove red-eye once the picture has been taken and some even do both). Red-eye reduction is useful but less critical than overall color/focus/exposure as it's easy to remove in post processing (and most printing labs do it for you automatically).

  • All taken from the same position at very similar zoom settings (subject distance approx. 1.5 m /5 ft)
  • Auto or Intelligent Auto mode
  • Three shots taken with each camera and the best chosen
Canon D10
ISO 400
FujiFilm Z33
ISO 400
Olympus Tough 6000
ISO 125
Olympus Tough 8000
ISO 160
Pentax W60
ISO 400
Pentax W80
ISO 400
Panasonic TS1
ISO 100
   
   

In terms of exposure all the cameras (except maybe the TS1) in the group did a good enough job. The TS1 selected the lowest ISO setting, but also used the most flash. Not only did the it retain the least amount of ambient light, it was the only camera where the subjects requested a moment after every picture to recover from the very bright flash. The Pentax W60, W80 and Olympus Tough 6000 had the next harshest flash result of the bunch, with the W60 blowing out the white shirt of the woman on the left of the frame. The Canon, Fujifilm and Pentax cameras all selected ISO 400 in this scene, but the Tough 6000 and Tough 8000 selected ISO 125 and 160 respectively. This contributed to the two Olympus cameras producing a smoother, less noisy result compared to the other cameras (but did produce dark backgrounds).

The Canon did the best job of balancing ambient light and flash to produce a pleasing result that almost looks like flash wasn't used. The Pentax cameras and Fuji weren't far behind, with results that, while obviously flashed, still retain some of the ambient atmosphere of the scene. The Two Olympus cameras and the TS1 retained the least amount of ambient light, due to them using lower ISO settings than other cameras in the group. Both the Olympus cameras also produced the coolest (most blue) result in terms of color balance, followed by the TS1, with the Z33 and W60 sitting somewhere in the middle, then the W80 (which produced a warmer result than the W60), and the D10 producing the warmest result of the group.

Flash shot 100% crops:

Canon D10
ISO 400
FujiFilm Z33
ISO 400
Olympus Tough 6000
ISO 125
Olympus Tough 8000
ISO 160
Pentax W60
ISO 400
Pentax W80
ISO 400
Panasonic TS1
ISO 100
   
   

By using the lowest ISO setting in the group, the TS1 managed to produce the cleanest most noise free shot. There are few noise reduction artefacts and strands of hair are mostly clearly defined. The two Olympus cameras are next using lower ISO settings compared to the other cameras in this group test, producing similarly low-noise images. The Tough 6000 does a much better job than the Tough 8000, which has smeared away most of the fine low-contrast detail. Despite using a much higher ISO than the Olympus cameras, the Canon manages to put in a very good performance, and produces one of the sharpest and certainly the most pleasing result of the group, and while there is noise visible, it will still produce a very nice 8x10 print.

Both Pentax cameras perform relatively well in this test, despite the higher ISO setting producing more visible noise. They are both let down (especially compared to the TS1 and D10) by the slightly harsher overall appearance, and the poor red eye performance. In terms of sharpness the Z33 is on par with the Pentax and the Olympus Tough 6000.

The 100% crops show more clearly how each camera performs in terms of red eye. The best of the bunch is the Z33 and TS1 (with the TS1 showing perhaps slightly more red). The Z33 analyses each picture and removes red eye if it detects it. Unfortunately, while the results are excellent, this 'intelligent auto processing' locks the camera up for a few seconds after each shot, and this behavior makes it quite infuriating to use when trying to take a few pictures in quick succession. Both the Tough 6000 and D10 performed quite well, with not very noticeable red eye, especially if you view the image at smaller magnifications. The Tough 8000 was second worst in the group with obvious red eye, even at smaller magnifications, and finally the two Pentax cameras with their sharp and well exposed images are quite capable of bringing out your evil side.

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