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Premium camera group: Real world comparison

On this page you'll find the first 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 35mm equivalent focal length
  • Auto White Balance and auto (program) exposure
  • Base ISO (lowest setting)

Base ISO Landscape comparison (all cameras at approx 35mm equivalent focal length)

Canon G10
ISO 80
Canon SX110 IS
ISO 80
Kodak Z8612
ISO 64
Nikon P6000
ISO 64
Panasonic LX3
ISO 80
Panasonic TZ5
ISO 100
Ricoh R10
ISO 80

Base ISO Landscape 100% crops:

Note that for this group we've included two crops; the additional (lower) crop shows each camera's ability to capture fine low contrast detail.

Canon G10
ISO 80
Canon SX110 IS
ISO 80
Kodak Z8612
ISO 64
Nikon P6000
ISO 64
Panasonic LX3
ISO 80
Panasonic TZ5
ISO 100



Ricoh R10
ISO 80

As with the other group tests I should start by making clear that, with these pictures being shot in November and it being the UK, the shots above have lighting that varies slightly from camera to camera (the wind was blowing quite hard on the one 'blue sky day' we had, so the clouds were moving very quickly).

The typical user of this type of camera is going to expect decent results in good light and for the most part they aren't going to be disappointed. From a detail point of view there's little to choose between most of the cameras in this group, certainly at normal print sizes.

That said, there are some important differences for users expecting all those megapixels to allow them to produce large prints or to crop / trim their shots before printing. The two clear winners are the Canon G10 and Panasonic LX3 - there's very little between them - the G10 has more resolution but the LX3 uses lighter noise reduction so is less likely to lose shadow texture. The G10 also shows hints of color fringing, something Panasonic processes out at the shooting stage.

Of the other cameras perhaps the most disappointing are the Nikon P6000 and the Ricoh R10, both of which we expected to be a lot better, and both of which use heavy noise reduction that smears detail and texture. The Ricoh R10 is also the only camera in the group to give a noticeably different white balance, producing a sky tone that looks slightly reddish compared to the rest. The two compact superzooms (Panasonic TZ5 and Canon SX110 IS) sit somewhere in the middle, producing output that is quite noisy (TZ5) or quite smeary (SX110 IS), but perfectly good for normal print sizes.

Finally there's the Kodak, which at a pixel level is the worst here, a reflection perhaps of the fact it is far and away the cheapest camera in the group. The output lacks detail and is oversharpened, so looks pretty unpleasant close up - though as long as you're sticking to smaller prints (below 5x7 inches) I doubt anyone spending under $200 is going to complain.

Looking at the bigger picture, none of the cameras had any problems with metering, and most produce very similar output color-wise (the Kodak looks a lot more saturated and the Ricoh, as mentioned, has a slightly odd white balance).

Telephoto (long end of zoom)

This is less of a direct comparison as the cameras have very different focal length ranges, but gives you an idea of the kind of range offered (these were shot from the same tripod position as the previous shots).

Canon G10
140mm equiv.
Canon SX110 IS
360mm equiv.
Kodak Z8612
432mm equiv.
Nikon P6000
112mm equiv.
Panasonic LX3
60mm equiv.
Panasonic TZ5
280mm equiv.
Ricoh R10
200mm equiv.

The telephoto capabilities of these cameras vary considerably from 60mm to 432mm equivalent, with four models falling into the 'super zoom' class. None shows any significant deteriation in optical quality at the long end of the zoom.

Wideangle

All but two of the cameras in this group offer a zoom lens that starts at what we would consider to be a true wide angle, equivalent to 28mm on a conventional 135 film camera, and with the LX3 going all the way down to 24mm equivalent. The Kodak Z8612 IS and Canon SX110 IS are the exceptions; both start at 36mm, but both also offer significantly more telephoto reach than the other cameras in this group.

Canon G10
28mm equiv.
Nikon P6000
28mm equiv.
Panasonic LX3
24mm equiv.
Panasonic TZ5
28mm equiv.
Ricoh R10
28mm equiv.

We were pleased to see that all five cameras actually suffered very little from the soft edges that plagued early wideangle lenses on compact cameras, including the Panasonic TZ5 and Ricoh R10 which might be forgiven for having a little fall-off given their long zoom ranges.

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