Nikon COOLPIX A Ken McMahon, April 2013

Nikon COOLPIX A vs Olympus XZ-2 Quality JPEG

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Nikon COOLPIX A and the Olympus XZ-2, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The Nikon COOLPIX A has a 28mm equivalent fixed focal length lens. To match its field of the view the zoom lens on the Olympus XZ-2 was set to its 28mm equivalent maximum wide angle position.

The COOLPIX A lacks image stabilisation and it was disabled on the XZ-2 for this tripod-mounted test. All other camera settings were left on the defaults.

  Nikon COOLPIX A results
1 Nikon COOLPIX A Quality JPEG
2 Nikon COOLPIX A Quality RAW
3 Nikon COOLPIX A Noise JPEG
4 Nikon COOLPIX A Noise RAW
5 Nikon COOLPIX A Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon COOLPIX A. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f5.6 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the sensitivity set to 100 ISO the camera metered an exposure of 1/320. As usual for this test the camera was otherwise left on the default settings. The Olympus XZ-2 produced its best results at f4 where it metered 1/800th with the sensitivity set to 100 ISO.

Conditions on the day were bright Spring sunshine producing a scene with a high tonal range with bright highlights and deep shadows. Overall the COOLPIX A did a good job with the exposure producing a result capturing the full tonal range with the tiniest bit of clipping in the shadows on the RGB histogram.

As for the crops, the first one shows a good level of detail with the smaller architectural features of the chapel clearly visible. You can clearly make out detail in the stonework as well as in the grass and rocky outcrops in the forecround.

The slight atmospheric haze means the lighthouse isn't as distinct as it often is so we can't learn much from that, but the chimneys and window frames of the middle distance and foreground of this crop again show a good level of detail with clean edges. You can make out the individual tiles on the roof in the near foreground of this crop. The edges and fine detail in the third crop from closer to the edge of the frame are also very good and this is one area in which the COOLPIX A's fixed focal length prime lens wins out over competitor zooms where the edge details tends to suffer compared with the centre of the frame. There's not a hint of chromatic aberration here either, although Nikon may be correcting it in-camera. In the final crop back in the centre of the frame once again there's very little to complain about with nice crisp edges on the window frames and fine detail well resolved by the lens and sensor combination.

Compared with the crops from the 12 Megapixel Olympus XZ-2, the 16 Megapixel COOLPIX A crops show a smaller area with larger detail. The other thing to remember here is that the APS-C sized sensor in the COOLPIX A is physically larger with a much bigger surface area than the 1/1.7in sensor in the Olympus XZ-2. The first crop from the XZ-2 does look just a little softer with the fine detail not so clearly picked out. Likewise, the edges in the second crop don't look quite so crisp as on the COOLPIX A, but at this stage it's hard to tell if this is just a consequence of the different sized detail or there's something more going on.

In the third crop from the frame edge there's a clear difference between the quality of the COOLPIX A and the Olympus XZ-2 though. The XZ2 crop not only suffers from quite visible colour fringing but the edges are much softer and smaller details are blurry. Back in the centre of the frame for the fourth crop, there's much less of a difference, but this crop I think confirms what the first two hint at. The edges and fine detail in the Olympus XZ-2 crop aren't as crisp and clearly defined as in the COOLPIX A crop. Taken overall, these crops show that the larger, higher resolution sensor in the COOLPIX A, combined with its 28mm prime lens produces clearer, sharper, better images with a higher level of detail than the Olympus XZ-2 with its smaller 12 Megapixel sensor and 3x zoom.

My COOLPIX A RAW quality results on the next page will provide evidence of how much, if any, of the difference is due to processing. Alternatively, see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my COOLPIX A Noise results.


Olympus XZ-2
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO

results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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