White Balance

The S5000's automatic white balance appeared to work well outdoors in our everyday shots but had a slight blue cast on our test chart (this is the same response as the F700). As the S5000 doesn't have a manual white balance preset mode you must rely on auto white balance or the pre-programmed white balance presets.

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Cloudy (or Sunny) Outdoors, Manual (n/a)
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Incandescent Incandescent, Manual (n/a)
Fluorescent, Auto Fluorescent, Fluor 3 (1 or 2) Fluorescent, Manual (n/a)

Macro Focus

We found the best macro performance was at approximately one third zoom (equiv. to 3x optical zoom), this produced the best possible coverage with virtually no distortion. For a 10x optical zoom digital camera the S5000 has a very respectable macro capability. Note that each line on the grid is 10 mm, taken at shortest subject distance in macro mode.

Wide angle - 116 mm x 88 mm coverage
24 px/mm (611 px/in)
One Third zoom - 75 mm x 56 mm coverage
45 px/mm (1155 px/in)

Flash Performance

The S5000's pop-up flash must be manually released before flash modes are available. The flash has a specified range of 6.0 m (19.7 ft) with the camera in Auto ISO. Flash exposures had good color and white balance with no cast or odd hue, they were slightly underexposed fortunately the S5000 does have an exposure compensation option so it would be easy to correct for the occasional darker image.

Skin tone - Natural color, no blue cast, slightly underexposed Color patches - Good color balance, no color cast, slightly underexposed

Night exposures

The S5000 has a limited range of slow shutter speed available for night exposures, in night scene mode the camera automatically engages ISO 400 and allows a slowest shutter speed of 2 seconds. In manual exposure mode you can select a slowest shutter speed of 2 seconds. The samples below show that the S5000 really could do with a wider range of slow shutter speeds, there were also quite a few hot pixels visible.

Manual exposure: ISO 200, 2 sec, F2.8
Manual exposure: ISO 400, 2 sec, F2.8

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

The S5000 exhibited just under 1% barrel distortion at wide angle and just 0.2% (this would not be visible) at full telephoto. This is considered a very good performance for a compact ten times optical zoom lens.

Barrel Distortion, 0.9% @ wide angle Pincushion Distortion, 0.2% @ telephoto

Vignetting / Lens Shading

One of the first things I noticed when browsing through our first set of S5000 images was the effect of vignetting / lens shading in the top left and right corners of the frame. This appeared to be most visible at wide angle but does affect the whole zoom range. Whether or not you would see this in your final shot depends quite a lot on the scene, it's most visible with a plain sky or grey background which stretches across the width of the image. I wasn't very impressed to see this on a modern digital camera.

Some corner vignetting visible at wide angle and maximum aperture, F2.8 No noticeable vignetting at telephoto, F4.9

Vignetting / Lens Shading visible in everyday shots

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

While the S5000 did exhibit some chromatic aberrations on our standard test chart it was relatively mild and was very difficult to find in everyday shots. The crop on the left was the only image in which we could detect visible fringing, and even this would be difficult to detect in print.

Fringing visible around contrast, F2.8 Our standard chromatic aberration test shot

Overall Image Quality / Specific Issues

Metering, tonal balance and color were good. Sharpening was far too harsh and unsophisticated leading to enhanced noise and sharpening artifacts, the levels of control over sharpening weren't fine enough to strike a balance between sharpness and a completely soft image. I was also disappointed with the S5000's resolution which proved to be only slightly better than an entry level three megapixel digital camera, and was certainly nowhere near as good as its more expensive sibling the F700.

6mp vs. 3mp

The S5000 uses a three megapixel SuperCCD sensor, final image sizes of 6, 3, 2 and 1 megapixel are available. The six megapixel mode is 'processed' (interpolated) upwards from the three million pixel sensor data. As you can see from the crops below there was absolutely no advantage shooting at 6mp mode on the S5000, thus I would advise anyone using this camera to shoot at the three megapixel size (I was disappointed by this, especially considering the F700's results).

6mp image size 3mp image size