Compared to... (contd.)

Now we'll use the data in our review database to compare the P9's colour and resolution to three other four megapixel digital cameras: the Canon PowerShot S40, Olympus C-40Z and Sony DSC-S85.

Colour Chart Comparison

Colour charts are shot in daylight, Auto White Balance, EV compensation +0.3 (all cameras), measured light ~10 EV. This test is also dependent on the accuracy of the camera's auto white balance, the colour charts are shot in daylight but some camera's white balance is better than others. All cameras are given 20 seconds to "settle" before the shot is taken.

Sony DSC-P9 Canon PowerShot S40
Olympus C-40Z Sony DSC-S85
Virtually identical balance to the DSC-S85 except for the almost purple appearance of blues (this was a surprise as I hadn't observed this in real life shots). Otherwise a measured and neutral colour balance which succeeds because it provides vivid colour without looking false or overly saturated.

In the table below we're only measuring colour. The RGB values were measured from a VGA reduced image (to average colours, remove noise and eliminate JPEG artifacts) using the Eyedropper tool in Photoshop with a 5 by 5 Average Sample Size.



PowerShot S40
Black 26,24,26 30,30,30 30,31,29 17,17,19
Middle Gray 96,94,98 103,102,103 100,99,99 76,81,79
White 192,190,192 215,210,211 214,216,211 188,189,189
Magenta 186,24,109 199,41,113 208,51,116 170,12,124
Red 174,17,29 196,33,42 196,45,41 176,0,40
Yellow 189,181,28 211,192,38 206,207,50 181,180,14
Green 37,137,66 33,140,67 8,143,63 24,131,27
Cyan 47,157,191 26,160,223 17,155,224 23,158,175
Blue 67,41,109 33,44,116 49,48,111 23,31,112

Again, it's fairly easy to see the 'red bleed' into the dark blue patch, this has had the effect of turning this patch purple (this appears to be a daylight auto white balance issue).

Resolution Chart Comparison

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. So a value of 8 equates to 800 lines per picture height.

Studio light, cameras set to auto, all settings factory default. Exposure compensation +0.7 EV for all cameras.

Horizontal resolution Vertical resolution 5 degree diagonal res.
Sony DSC-P9
Canon PowerShot S40
Olympus C-40Z
Sony DSC-S85

Measurable findings (three measurements taken for each camera):

Camera Measurement Absolute Res.  Extinction Res. 
Sony DSC-P9 Horiz LPH 1100  1400 
Vert LPH 1100  1400 
5° Diagonal LPH 1000  n/a 
Canon PowerShot S40 Horiz LPH 1250  *1400 
Vert LPH 1100  1400 
5° Diagonal LPH 1000  n/a 
Olympus C-40Z (D-40Z) Horiz LPH *1200  *1350 
Vert LPH 1100  1400 
5° Diagonal LPH 1000  n/a 
Sony DSC-S85 Horiz LPH 1250  *1650 
Vert LPH 1200  1650 
5° Diagonal LPH 1000  n/a 

* Some artifacts / moiré visible

Definition of terms:

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 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.

The DSC-P9 performed pretty much as we'd expected, based on what we've seen from its sample images and in comparison to the S40. Horizontal resolution is around (but just slightly less) than some of the other competition, vertical resolution is identical to the S40 and C-40Z (D-40Z). The DSC-S85 was included for comparison, as you can see it still manages to hold onto its crown for the highest resolution four megapixel consumer digital camera.