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Nikon COOLPIX S570 Ken McMahon, January 2010

Nikon COOLPIX S570 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Nikon COOLPIX S570 vs Canon IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS vs IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS High ISO Noise

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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Nikon COOLPIX S570, the Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS / PowerShot SD940 IS Digital ELPH and the IXUS 200 IS / PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH.

The lenses were set to approximate the same field of view.

The above shot was taken with the the Nikon COOLPIX S570 in Auto mode with the lens at its maximum wide angle setting of 5mm (28mm). The exposure was 1 second at f2.8. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

At the lower ISO settings the image quality from the Nikon COOLPIX S570 is second to none. There's no evidence of noise despite the long exposure time - either the sensor has kept it to an invisible minimum or the processing has effectively removed it without leaving any evidence. There's just enough of a difference between the 80 and 100 ISO crop to make it worthwhile going for the lower sensitivity setting if you have the choice, but not enough to stop you using 100 ISO as your 'default' sensitivity setting if you prefer.

At 200 ISO there's a slight granularity becoming evident and also the detail in this crop looks slightly softer than the one at 100 ISO. The difference is small, and you'd be unlikely to notice this slight deterioration in anything other than a full size print.

At 400 ISO the COOLPIX S570 experiences a marked increase in noise. You can see it in the flat areas of colour in the red curtain on the left, in the wood panelling and in the break up of the straight edges. There's also some evidence of smearing typical of noise reduction processing. Having done a fantastic job up to now, Nikon's noise processing algorithms are losing the battle.

At 800 ISO, as you'd expect, there's another jump in the noise levels, but now there's another problem in the form of a very pronounced blue colour cast. This gets worse and is accompanied by a desaturation of the colours at 1600 ISO and at 3200 ISO all of these problems are further exaggerated. At these upper ISO setting you wouldn't expect great image quality, though, and at least the COOLPIX S570 provides full frame resolution. It also has the facility to restrict the auto ISO range up to a maximum of either 400 or 800 ISO if you want to avoide these issues.

Compared with the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS and IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS the COOLPIX S570 starts off well, but loses ground at the higher ISO settings. At 80 and 100 ISO though, we'd say the COOLPIX S570 has the edge on both IXUS compacts. At these ISO sensitivities the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS does better than the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS, so the difference there is less pronounced.

From 200 ISO up however, the picture changes; the COOLPIX S570 and the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS are neck and neck, but the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS has moved ahead with a crisper image that displays less noise. Beyond that, it's all over for the COOLPIX 570 with both Canon IXUS / ELPH compacts outperforming it in terms of high ISO noise, white balance and colour reproduction.

Now head over to our Nikon COOLPIX S570 gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Nikon COOLPIX S570
Canon IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS
Canon IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS
80 ISO
80 ISO
80 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO (1600x1200)
3200 ISO (1600x1200)

Nikon COOLPIX S570 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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