Compared to... Olympus Stylus 800 (Mju 800)

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Canon PowerShot S80 and the only other compact with an 8 megapixel 1/1.8-inch sensor we've had in for testing thus far, the Olympus Stylus 800 (Mju 800). We have included samples for the lowest and highest ISO settings for each camera Canon S80: 50 and 400, Olympus Stylus 800: 64 and 400).

Studio scene comparison (Canon S80 @ ISO 50, Stylus 800 @ ISO 64)

  • Canon PowerShot S80 : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 50, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.67 EV compensation
  • Olympus Stylus 800 (Mju 800): Aperture Priority mode, ISO 64, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +1.0 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Canon PowerShot S80
Olympus Stylus 800 (Mju 800)
ISO 50, 1/60 sec, F5
ISO 64, 1/50 sec, F4.5
3,217 KB JPEG
3,319 KB JPEG

A very interesting comparison this, and one that shows clearly the different approaches to image processing taken by Canon and Olympus. At first glance the Stylus 800's image would appear to be much sharper, but first impressions can be very misleading. A closer look a each shot shows that the lens / sensor combination on each camera is capturing almost exactly the same amount of detail (something borne out by our resolution testing), but the Olympus camera is applying an unholy amount of in-camera sharpening, which combined with the rather strange artefacting (caused, we suspect, by noise reduction and demosaicing problems) give a very 'artificial' appearance. The S80's result is much cleaner, and much more natural.

The key thing to remember here is that you could easily make the S80's image look like the Stylus 800 image (by over-sharpening and whacking up the contrast in Photoshop), but you couldn't make the Stylus 800 image look like the S80 image - it's simply lost too much in the in-camera processing.