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Nikon COOLPIX S8000 Ken McMahon, July 2010

Nikon COOLPIX S8000 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Nikon COOLPIX S8000 vs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 vs Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 real-life resolution

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To compare real-life performance we shot this scene with the Nikon COOLPIX S8000, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on each camera were set to approximate the same field of view, the COOLPIX S8000 was set to Auto mode the Sony and Panasonic cameras were set to Program mode. All three cameras were set to manual ISO and the lowest available sensitivity - 100 ISO on the COOLPIX S8000 and 80 ISO on the Cyber-shot DSC-H55 and the Panasonic DMC-TZ8 / ZS5


The above image was taken with the Nikon COOLPIX S8000 in Auto mode. The lens was set to 5.4 mm (30mm equivalent) and the metering selected an exposure of 1/800th of a second at f3.5 with an ISO setting of 100. The original 4320 x 3240 pixel image had a file size of 4.82MB.

These test images were shot in cloudy bright conditions so the subject doesn't present the same kind of exposure challenges as it does in bright sunlight with a high dynamic range encompassing bright highlights on the white walls and deep shadow in the foreground vegetation. Nonetheless the COOLPIX S8000 has done a good job with the exposure: the histogram is slightly clipped on the right but there are no obviously blown highlights.

The auto white balance has however produced an image that's slightly on the blue side. The side-by-side comparison of the crops from three cameras, with the more neutral colours of the Sony Cyber-shot H55 in the middle makes this more obvious than when looking at the S8000 image on it's own, but there's no denying it's on the cool side.

Now let's look at the detailed crops. In terms of image detail, the crops from the COOLPIX S8000 are somewhat disappointing. A compact lens with a 10x zoom range presents a real challenge to optical engineers in terms of producing good image quality across the range of focal lengths and from the centre of the image to the corners. Nikon has gone to great lengths to achieve this, including low-dispersion ED glass elements in the S8000's lens, but the detail in these crops doesn't bear out those efforts.

Looking closely it's likely that image processing is more of a problem than the lens itself. For one thing, the image quality is reasonably consistent across the frame from the centre to the edges. For another the detail at the pixel level looks clumpy and, in places - the third crop with the chimney, TV aerial and roof tiles for example, smeared. And if you look closely at the first crop you'll see a white halo around the chapel and along the horizon, this extends all the way along the horizon and is further evidence of an intrusive level of image processing that has had a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the S8000's images.

Compared with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55, the COOLPIX S8000 is behind by a short length in every race. Firstly, the Cyber-shot H55 has nailed the while balance spot on with a more neutral-looking sky and generally warmer colours. And though the Sony crops also look a little clumpy and the halo is just visible on the horizon, it doesn't suffer from these problems to the same degree as the COOLPIX 8000. Probably the best example of the difference in image details is in the lighthouse crop, where the Sony has clearly made a better job of resolving the detail in both the foreground houses and the landscape beyond.

There's less of a difference between the COOLPIX S8000 and the Panasonic Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 than with the H55, but we still think the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 just has the edge. It doesn't have the consistency of the Nikon, producing sharper, better defined detail in the centre of the image than at the edges, but at the edges it's marginally better and in the centre significantly sharper. And, while you can just make out a white halo around the chapel in the first crop, it's not nearly so marked as on the S8000 crop. Now let's check out how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

Nikon COOLPIX S8000
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5
f3.5, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4.3, 80 ISO
f3.5, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4.3, 80 ISO
f3.5, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4.3, 80 ISO
f3.5, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4.3, 80 ISO

Nikon COOLPIX S8000 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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