Nikon COOLPIX L810 Ken McMahon, October 2012

Nikon L810 vs Canon SX500 quality

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the the Nikon COOLPIX L810 and the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on both cameras were set to an equivalent field of view and both were set to Program auto exposure mode.

The ISO sensitivity was set manually on each camera - to the base ISO sensitivity settings of 80 ISO on the COOLPIX L810 and 100 ISO on the PowerShot SX500 IS.

  Nikon COOLPIX L810 results
1 Nikon COOLPIX L810 Quality
3 Nikon COOLPIX L810 Noise
5 Nikon COOLPIX L810 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon COOLPIX L810. The lens was zoomed in slightly to 4.3mm (24mm equivalent) to provide an equivalent field of view to the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS. The COOLPIX L810 has two aperture settings at this focal length - f3.1 and f9.9 and slight changes to the viewing angle would cause the camera to switch from one to the other, eventually settling on f3.1, closer to the f5 selected by the SX500 IS. As the L810's aperture is set with an electronically controlled neutral density filter, rather than a physical diaphragm it actually makes no difference in terms of diffraction or depth of field.

The camera metered an exposure of 1/1500 at f3.1. The original JPEG image size was 7.04MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%. Image stabilisation was disabled for these tripod-based tests.

Overall, the COOLPIX L810 has produced a good result from the outdoor test scene. The exposure and white balance are good and the result looks pleasing with natural colours. There's a good level of detail in the crops, though, like the PowerShot SX500 IS, there's also a visible level of noise which you can see as a stippled texture in areas of flat colour. In the first crop the stippling is most apparent on the left hand side on the boundaries between the hill and sea and the sea and sky. But despite that there's still plenty of fine detail in the chapel and the rocky foreground.

In the second crop the stippling is a little more visible, but the lighthouse is a distinct white column and the roofs and windows in the middle ground are quite well resolved with good clean edge detail. The detail in the third crop from the edge of the frame looks a little clumpy and there's the merest hint of colour fringing. As is often the case the final crop from the centre of the frame shows the highest level of detail with edges that are nice and sharp. There's still that stippling though, which is why you can't see more detail in the roof tiles and the distant buildings.

Compared with the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS the Nikon COOLPIX L810 has a clear lead in terms of overall quality. First, there's the quite severe chromatic aberration on the SX500 IS which is present in all of the crops to a greater or lesser degree. Then there's the noise issue which manifests itself in a similar fashion, but to a greater degree in the PowerShot SX500 IS crops. The COOLPIX L810 lens doesn't suffer from chromatic aberration to anything like the extent the PowerShot SX500 does and its sensor is a little less prone to noise at the base ISO setting. These two factors combine to give the COOLPIX L810 a small, but significant quality lead, at least for full sized images displayed at 100 percent viewing sizes.

To see how these models compare at higher sensitivities check out my Nikon L810 noise results.


Nikon COOLPIX L810
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS
f3.1, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f3.1, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f3.1, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO
f3.1, 80 ISO
f5, 100 ISO

Nikon COOLPIX L810 results : Quality / Noise

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