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Compared to...

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Sony DSC-W7 and the similarly specified Canon PowerShot SD500 at ISO 400.

Studio scene comparison (@ ISO 400)

  • Sony DSC-W7 : Manual mode, ISO 400, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance (preset)
  • Canon PowerShot SD500: Program mode, ISO 400, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +1.0 EV compensation
     
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Sony DSC-W7
Canon PowerShot SD500
ISO 400, 1/400 sec, F4
ISO 400, 1/636 sec, F4
2,828 KB JPEG
3,332 KB JPEG
Noise, std dev: 2.2
Noise, std dev: 2.7

At ISO 400 the majority of the differences in detail have been masked by the noise reduction algorithms, though if anything the SD500's slight advantage in terms of detail has been reversed. In fact, the W7 preserves a surprising amount of contrast and detail - and has slightly lower noise - than the SD500. Not a bad result at all, and perfectly usable if you don't intend to print at particularly large sizes. My only complaint is that the noise reduction has produced some mild artifacts in the darkest shadows (a result, I think, of the in-camera sharpening and high contrast as much as the NR), with some posterizaton (mainly the loss of fine shadow gradation) and visible 'graininess'. Again, this doesn't really have a detrimental effect on prints at 'normal' sizes.

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