Overall Image Quality

Overall, pretty good for a 2 megapixel digicam. Most images show good dynamic range and a "compression / flat" dynamic range (the ability to capture both highlights and shadows). Colours are on the whole good, there's plenty of sharpness. Long zoom images may suffer from chromatic aberrations and there's definitely some visible noise in lower light images. Otherwise the CD1000 fairs well.

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

That big lens doesn't come without a price. Though it's worth noting that you can learn to shoot within its limitations. Chromatic aberrations are a problem to digital camera lenses big and small and the CD1000 lens is pretty well behaved until you get to the extreme 10x zoom.

Here we can see chromatic aberrations along the under edge of this bright white (over exposed) surface.
Interesting that the chromatic aberrations can be seen even on less immediately contrasting objects, these white rails were enough to create a visible purple halo above them.

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

It was near impossible to produce these test correctly because of the LCD viewfinders 86% frame coverage. Despite several attempts at first lining the frame up then shooting progressively closer all we got was badly aligned shots. Suffice to say we did manage to record the barrel distortion and were happy to report zero pincushion distortion despite the huge 10x zoom.

Barrel Distortion, 1.7% @ Wide Angle Pincushion Distortion, None @ Full Tele

Compared to Nikon Coolpix 950

For a long time the 950 was our benchmark digital camera, now relegated to our benchmark 2 megapixel digital camera, and already seeming to be a pensioner on the fast paced world of digital camera technology. Obviously the 950 and CD1000 are very different beasts, and this comparison is only on image quality.

In these sets of sample images the cameras were setup in exactly the same manner, had the same subjects, lighting and camera settings (as close as possible) and shots taken within minutes of each other. For comparison with other digital cameras use the resolution charts and colour patches now available through the camera specification database.

Scene Comparison One

Lighting - 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white overhead reflector. Exposure compensation +0.7EV, ISO: 100, White Balance: Auto.

Sony MVC-CD1000

Nikon Coolpix 950

At first the CD1000 images seem to have more detail, but this is in fact due to in-camera sharpening (see the white sharpening halos around darker detail), take the 950 image and apply a gentle unsharpen mask and the detail will be almost equal. The 950 managed to white balance better than the CD1000, colour performance was almost equal with the 950 just piping the CD1000 (check the reds in the Martini label or the circular Tanqueray logo.

Colour Chart Comparison

For the following tests we've also added data from the Canon PowerShot S20 as its the P1's nearest competitor from a size and resolution basis. Shot in daylight, Auto White Balance, EV compensation +0.3 (all cameras), measured light ~10 EV.

Sony MVC-CD1000 Nikon Coolpix 990
Not much in it, the CD1000 under metering the scene (leaving some of the darker grays to wallow in blackness), I think it's fair to say that the CD1000's primaries are a little nicer / more accurate than the 950.

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
Patch White 166,176,171 198,198,198
Middle Gray 74,85,83 105,108,108
Patch Red 168,9,14 215,31,41
Patch Green 1,141,35 0,148,67
Patch Blue 37,21,133 57,51,132

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.

Sony MVC-CD1000
Nikon Coolpix 950

Measurable findings (three measurements taken for each camera):

Camera Measurement Absolute Res. Extinction Res.
Horiz LPH 850 1050
Vert LPH 800 1050
5o Diagonal LPH 800 n/a
Nikon Coolpix 950 Horiz LPH 750 1050
Vert LPH 750 1050
5o Diagonal LPH 800 n/a

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 5o 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.