Resolution Chart Comparison

Comparison cameras:

  • Canon PowerShot S5 IS (8.0 MP, 12x zoom)
  • Sony DSC-H9 (8.0 MP, 15x zoom)
  • Olympus SP-550UZ (7MP, 18x zoom)
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ8 (7 MP, 12 x zoom)
  • Canon PowerShot S3 IS (6 MP, 12x zoom)

Shots here are of our standard resolution chart (version one or two). This chart allows us to measure the actual performance of the lens and sensor system. It measures the ability of the camera to resolve lines at gradually higher resolutions and enables us to provide a definitive value for comparison purposes. Values on the chart are 1/100th lines per picture height. So a value of 15 equates to 1500 lines per picture height. (Note that on version two of our chart the vertical resolution 1000 - 2000 lines have been horizontally flipped but are otherwise identical). For each camera the relevant prime lens was used. The chart is shot at a full range of apertures and the sharpest image selected.

Studio light, cameras set to auto, settings all factory default. If possible aperture was selected for optimum sharpness. Exposure compensation +0.7 EV to +1.3 EV.

Canon PowerShot S5 IS (2,986 KB; 8 MP) Canon S3 IS (2,116 KB; 6 MP)
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 (3,379 KB; 7 MP) Sony DSC-H9 (1,447 KB; 8 MP)
Olympus SP-550UZ (3,287 KB; 7 MP)  

Resolution Chart Crops

Canon PowerShot S5 IS Canon S3 IS
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 Sony DSC-H9
Olympus SP-550UZ  
Canon PowerShot S5 IS Canon S3 IS
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 Sony DSC-H9
Olympus SP-550UZ  

Measurable findings

Camera Measurement
Canon Power Shot S5 IS Horizontal LPH 1550 1625
Vertical LPH 1625 2100*
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 n/a
Olympus SP-550UZ Horizontal LPH 1350 1750*
Vertical LPH 1400 1850*
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 n/a
Sony DSC-H9 Horizontal LPH 1550 1950*
Vertical LPH 1600 2000*
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 n/a
Canon PowerShot S3 IS Horizontal LPH 1400 *1700
Vertical LPH 1450 *1850
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 ‡ n/a
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 Horizontal LPH 1600 2100
Vertical LPH 1550 2050
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 n/a

* Moiré is visible
+ Chart maximum
Jagged diagonals
LPH Lines per Picture Height (to allow for different aspect ratios the measurement is the same for horizontal and vertical)
5° Diagonal Lines set at 5° diagonal
Absolute res. Point at which all lines of a resolution bar are still visible and defined, beyond this resolution loss of detail occurs (below Nyquist frequency).
Extinction res. Detail beyond camera's definition (becomes aliased)
n/a Not Available (above the capability of the test chart)
n/v Not Visible (not visible on test results)

Not bad at all - the extra two megapixels produces a small increase in resolution and puts the S5 IS near the top of the 'superzoom' tree, though of course this will only really show if you produce huge enlargements from pictures of resolution test charts... It's obvious the S5 IS is producing slightly less sharpened output than its predecessor, though this is by no means a bad thing as it results in slightly cleaner output. It's also worth noting that we found that diffraction effects caused a serious drop in resolution at anything over F4.5, by the time you hit F6.3 or F7.1 things are starting to look very soft.