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Compared to Nikon Coolpix 990 and Olympus C-3030Z

In all my reviews I try to present a comparison with other digital cameras. In these sets of sample images all the cameras were setup in exactly the same manner, had the same subjects, lighting and camera settings (as close as possible). Other Resolution charts and Colour patches now available through the camera comparison database.

Scene Comparison

It's a while since we broke out the bottles for a comparison, but now seems to be as good a time as any. All cameras set to ISO 100, Exposure compensation +0.3 EV, Auto White Balance.

Sony DSC-S70
 
Nikon Coolpix 990
 
Olympus C-3030Z
 
 

Two things become immediately obvious, firstly the S70 didn't (despite our best efforts) get the white balance exactly right, compared to the 990 and C-3030Z there's a definite pink (magenta) cast. Secondly colours are much more vivid on the S70 shot, right on the borderline between bright and pleasing and over saturated.

Sony DSC-S70
 
Nikon Coolpix 990
 
Olympus C-3030Z
 
 

Our first set of crops (blown up 200%) above home in on some detail, here we can see the sharpness and resolution of the S70 picking out detail that both the 990 and C-3030Z missed, thankful probably to the Zeiss optics.

Sony DSC-S70
 
Nikon Coolpix 990
 
Olympus C-3030Z
 
 

The second area (again, blown up 200%) is a detail which can cause problems for GRGB CFA (colour filter arrays) and in-camera processing algorithms. As we can see on the 990 and C-3030Z images there's a definite blocky stepping pattern between the two primaries red and green. By contrast the S70 seems to have the algorithm to cope with this, producing a nice smooth defined edge between colours.

Sony DSC-S70
 
Nikon Coolpix 990
 
Olympus C-3030Z
 
 

Dynamic range. You have to take your hats off to Sony, they made sure that the fact the S70 uses a 12-bit ADC (analogue to digital converter) was made very clear in all press releases when they first announced the camera, and here is a perfect example of it in action. As you can easily see the 990 and C-3030Z have both had problems with this very brightly highlighted label, however the S70 has coped well and managed to retain at least some detail.

Sony DSC-S70
 
Nikon Coolpix 990
 
Olympus C-3030Z
 
 

Pow! Those colours certainly leap out of the S70 image.. Unfortunately they're a little too strong for my (personal) liking. From a colour accuracy (and natural balance) point of view both the 990 and C-3030Z are much closer to the original scene, the plate indeed being a slightly purple blue (not the pure blue the S70 produced) and colour / saturation of the crayons being much more accurate in first the C-3030Z image closely followed by the 990.

It's almost as though Sony's engineers have tuned the in-camera processing algorithms to pick out primary "pleasing" colours and deliberately enhanced them for the final image. This certainly makes for a bright vividly coloured image but I'm not sure it's to everyone's tastes.

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