Compared to the Nikon Coolpix 990
In this test we're comparing the CD300 to Nikon's Coolpix 990 (still considered to be one of if not still the best 3 megapixel digital camera). Both shots taken in the cameras native JPEG mode, on the CD300 and 990 this was JPEG FINE. White balance was set to Auto on both cameras, all other settings were set to factory default or auto. Cameras were set to Aperture priority F5.6 (or as near as possible) with an exposure compensation of +0.3 EV.
Some crops below are of an 120 x 90 area of the image magnified 200%, some are straight 240 x 180 crops. Lighting - 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white overhead reflector (about as close as you can get to "indoor daylight").
ISO 100, 1/5s, F5.6
|Nikon Coolpix 990
ISO 100, 1/3s, F5.4
Here's what we can conclude from this simple comparison: first of all the Coolpix 990 images have more contrast, black really is black, the CD300 tends to deliberately push the darker end of the grayscale up a little to maintain shadow detail. Secondly the Coolpix 990 images look sharper, I'd attribute this to the less aggressive sharpening algorithms which seem to be a hallmark of Sony's newest digital cameras (S75). Thirdly the CD300 didn't auto white balance as well as the Coolpix 990, this has given the image a slight pink cast.
Overall the CD300 exhibits visibly better dynamic range (examine the smoother detail around the chrome highlights) and better colour reproduction with less artifacts between primary colour areas (example; where the yellow crayon meets the pink and orange ones in the Coolpix 990 image). Despite it's softer image the CD300 still manages the same amount of detail and resolution as the 990. I'd say the CD300's images seem far less 'processed', that doesn't mean they'll be to everyone's taste.
Compared at higher ISO
We also shot the same scene at ISO 200 and 400 to compare the relative image noise under normal lighting conditions.
|Nikon Coolpix 990|
|Nikon Coolpix 990|
The interesting thing to note here is how the noise presents itself in different ways in images from the two cameras, with the CD300 it's in the chromatic channels (colour) and shows up as red, green and blue flecks, less visible but still there. With the Coolpix 990 it's what we've seen before, in the luminance (grayscale) channel and shows up as random speckles of tone across all colours.
DISCLAIMER: I'd like to point out that the camera reviewed WAS a pre-production unit and we may well see cleaner images from a final production unit (we will update the review later).