Resolution Chart Comparison

Comparison cameras:

  • Canon PowerShot SD400 (5 MP, 3x zoom)
  • Panasonic DMC-FX7 (5 MP, 3x zoom)
  • Nikon Coolpix 5200 (5 MP, 3x zoom)
  • Pentax Optio S5i (5 MP, 3x zoom)

Shots here are of the PIMA/ISO 12233 standard resolution test chart (more of which are available in our comparison database). This resolution 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. Thus a value of 15 equates to 1500 lines per picture height.

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 SD400 (1,845 KB; 5 MP) Panasonic DMC-FX7 (1,676 KB; 5 MP)
Nikon Coolpix 5200 (1,546 KB; 5 MP) Pentax Optio S5i (2,855 KB; 5 MP)

Resolution Chart crops

Canon PowerShot SD400 Nikon Coolpix 5200
Pentax Optio S5i Panasonic DMC-FX7
Canon PowerShot SD400 Nikon Coolpix 5200
Pentax Optio S5i Panasonic DMC-FX7

Measurable findings

Camera Measurement
Canon PowerShot SD400 (IXUS 50) Horizontal LPH 1350 1550
Vertical LPH *1400 *1650
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 n/a
Panasonic DMC-FX7 Horizontal LPH 1450 1700
Vertical LPH 1400 1600
5° Diagonal LPH +1000 n/a
Pentax Optio S5i Horizontal LPH *1250 *1500
Vertical LPH *1200 *1450
5° Diagonal LPH *+1000 n/a
Nikon Coolpix 5200 Horizontal LPH 1400   *1650
Vertical LPH 1350   *1650
5° Diagonal LPH + 1000  n/a 

* Moiré is visible
+ Chart maximum
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)

No surprises here - the SD400 offers resolution broadly similar results to its closest competitors (with only the Panasonic FX7 producing noticeably better results). They're not the cleanest results here - there is some moiré visible at higher frequencies and high frequency diagonals are slightly jagged, but there's plenty of detail being captured and the results are as good as we can expect from this sensor and lens combination. For anyone wondering how much difference the extra megapixel makes over the SD300 (IXUS 40) our tests show you're getting around 100 lines (or just under 10 per cent) more detail both vertically and horizontally.