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Nikon COOLPIX S80 Ken McMahon, December 2010

Nikon COOLPIX S80 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Nikon COOLPIX S80 vs Sony Cyber-shot TX9 vs Panasonic Lumix FX700 Real-life resolution

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Nikon COOLPIX S80, the Sony Cyber-shot TX9 and the Panasonic Lumix FX700 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on each camera were set to approximately the same field of view and all three were set to program mode with the ISO sensitivity manually set to the lowest available setting.

The above image was taken with the Nikon COOLPIX S80 in Auto mode. The lens was set to its maximum wide angle setting of 6.3mm (35mm equivalent) and the metering selected an exposure of 1/264th of a second at f3.6 with the sensitivity at 80 ISO. The original 4320 x 3240 pixel image had a file size of 5.86MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and are presented here at 100%.

Our test scene usually poses something of an exposure challenge for compact sensors, but on this particular day with bright, but overcast weather conditions the scene lacks its usual wide dynamic range. The COOLPIX S80 hasn't got the exposure quite right though and slight over-exposure has resulted in a blown highlight region in the sky. To be fair, the central area of the image, to which the metering is weighted is well exposed, but there's a gap on the left side of the histogram that shows the COOLPIX could have given this scene about half a stop less exposure and gained some highlight detail in the sky without losing any from the shadows.

The COOLPIX S80 crops all have a slightly granular quality to them. This is most apparent in the second lighthouse crop where the sky region, which you wouldn't expect to see texture in, is quite grainy. The same can be said of the sea in the middle third of the crop and even the detail in the rooftops in the foreground look clumpy and irregular.

The next crop down suffers from the same problem, but the graininess has been overtaken and slightly supressed because of the softness in this crop, taken from the edge of the frame. While the graininess is global, and no doubt due to sensor and processor limitations the softness, which is apparent to a greater degree at the frame edge, is a lens limitation.

The best result from the COOLPIX S80 is the balcony crop taken from near the centre of the frame. This shows pretty good detail, though the contrast is a little harsh and there's still that persistent graininess.

By comparison, the crops from the Sony Cyber-shot TX9 look to be cleaner and more detailed than those from the COOLPIX S80. The Cyber-Shot TX9's 12 Megapixel sensor seems capable of producing good image detail without the clumpiness and processed look of those from the COOLPIX S80. The Cyber-shot TX9 crops are also more consistent, with sharpness and detail maintained right to the frame edge, but there is a hint of fringing in the Cyber-shot TX9 edge crop - something the COOLPIX S80 manages to avoid, or at least correct for.

The crops from the Panasonic Lumix FX700 don't fare very well by comparison with either the COOLPIX S80 or the Sony Cyber-shot TX9. Like the COOLPIX S80, detail in the Lumix FX700 crops has a clumpy, granular consistency, only here it's it's much more noticeable. In fact, in places image detail has disappeared altogether - the crosses on the chapel roof in the first crop are very indistinct and the lighthouse in the second crop has disappeared altogether. On a more positive note, like the COOLPIX S80, the Lumix FX700 shows no evidence of colour fringing at the edges of the frame.

Now let's see how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

Sony Cyber-shot TX9
Panasonic Lumix FX700
f3.6, 80 ISO
f4.5, 125 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f3.6, 80 ISO
f4.5, 125 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f3.6, 80 ISO
f4.5, 125 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f3.6, 80 ISO
f4.5, 125 ISO
f4, 100 ISO

Nikon COOLPIX S80 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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