Compared to...

In all our reviews we choose to compare the camera under review to one of our benchmark cameras. Here we've chosen to compare the C-2100UZ to our current benchmark 2 megapixel digital camera, Nikon's (last year) Coolpix 950.

The scene below was shot by both cameras within minutes of each other, settings on the cameras were kept equal (as much as possible): Auto White Balance, Aperture Priority (F6.3 - 1/3s), Equal Zoom, Default Sharpening. Lights: 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white ceiling reflector (creates an almost perfect daylight).

Olympus C-2100UZ
Nikon Coolpix 950

As we'd expect the C-2100UZ fairs on the whole better than the 950, in development terms Olympus's engineers have had over a year to tweak the camera's engine to get the most they can out of that 2 megapixel sensor. Sharpening is heavier on the C-2100UZ (at its Normal setting) and this helps to pull out some of the detail and emphasise other areas of the image. Colour balance is good, more accurate and better saturated than the 950. All in all a good performance for a 2 megapixel.

Colour Chart Comparison

Now switching to our archive for comparison images, we've chosen two additional 2 megapixel digital cameras, the Canon Powershot S10 and the C-2100UZ's older sibling the C-2020Z.

Shot in daylight, Auto White Balance, EV compensation +0.3 (all cameras), measured light ~10 EV.

Olympus C-2100UZ Nikon Coolpix 950
Olympus C-2020Z Canon PowerShot S10

Fairly neutral colours from the C-2100UZ, good white balance with almost perfect whites and grays (no discernible colour cast). If anything colours are slightly under-saturated, and especially comparing the blue and green patches with the Nikon Coolpix 950 and Olympus C-2020Z. Interestingly the C-2100UZ responded almost identically to the Powershot S10.

We're only measuring colour here. RGB values below were taken from a VGA reduced image (to average colours and eliminate JPEG artifacts) using the Eyedropper tool in Photoshop with a 5 by 5 Average Sample Size.

Coolpix 950
PowerShot S10
Patch White 188,189,189 198,198,198 197,200,200 209,213,220
Middle Gray 87,87,89 105,108,108 97,101,107 112,111,128
Patch Red 137,34,44 215,31,41 211,27,39 173,40,54
Patch Green 10,123,49 0,148,67 0,140,61 58,137,96
Patch Blue 29,27,69 57,51,132 43,44,139 43,50,108

Resolution Comparison

Shots here are of the PIMA/ISO 12233 standard resolution test chart (more available for comparison in our comparison database). Studio light, cameras set to auto, Exposure compensation +0.7 EV for all cameras. How to read the charts: All values are 1/100 th lines/picture height/width. So the "10" value equates to 1000.

Olympus C-2100UZ
Nikon Coolpix 950
Olympus C-2020Z
Canon PowerShot S10

Measurable findings (three measurements taken for each camera):

Camera Measurement Absolute Res. Extinction Res.
Olympus C-2100UZ Horiz LPH * 800 1100
Vert LPH 850 1100
Diagonal LPH 800 1000
Nikon Coolpix 950 Horiz LPH 750 1050
Vert LPH 750 1050
Diagonal LPH 800 n/a
Olympus C-2020Z Horiz LPH * 800 1100
Vert LPH 700 1050
Diagonal LPH 900 1000
Canon PowerShot S10 Horiz LPH 850 1150
Vert LPH 850 1100
Diagonal LPH 700 n/a

* Moiré appears before final, absolute resolution

Definition of terms:

LPH Lines per Picture Height (to allow for different aspect ratios the measurement is the same for horizontal and vertical)
5o Diagonal Lines set at 5° diagonal
Absolute Resolution Still defined detail (below Nyquist frequency)
Extinction Resolution Detail beyond camera's definition (becomes a solid gray alias)
n/a Not Available (above the capability of the test chart)
n/v Not Visible (not visible on test results)

Nyquist frequency: Defined as the highest spatial frequency where the CCD can still faithfully
record image detail. Beyond the Nyquist frequency aliasing occurs.

As we'd expect the C-2100UZ performs very well, indeed showing considerably better vertical resolution than the older C-2020Z and certainly more resolution than Nikon's Coolpix 950. For a 2 megapixel sensor the camera does extremely well to define such fine detail, it does have a moiré problem with very fine details (something we also saw on the C-2020Z, having said that I didn't see it in any "every day" photos). Surprisingly the C-2100UZ l can't quite make it up to the (still impressive) resolution of Canon's PowerShot S10.