Nikon COOLPIX S9100 Ken McMahon, August 2011
 
 

Nikon COOLPIX S9100 vs Canon PowerShot SX230 HS vs Panasonic Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 Resolution

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Nikon Coolpix S9100, Canon PowerShot SX230 HS and Panasonic Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 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 cameras were set to Program auto exposure mode.

The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting 160 ISO - on the COOLPIX S9100 and 100 ISO on the PowerShot SX230 HS and Lumix TZ20 / ZS10.

  Nikon COOLPIX S9100
1 Nikon COOLPIX S9100 Resolution
2 Nikon COOLPIX S9100 Noise
3 Nikon COOLPIX S9100 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon COOLPIX S9100 with its lens zoomed to 5.1mm (29mm equivalent), just inside its maximum wide angle setting of 4.5mm (25mm equivalent), to provide a comparable field of view with the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. The camera metered 1/640 at f7.2 and 160 ISO. The original image file was 4.64MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.

Overall it's quite a nice result from the COOLPIX S9100. The shot is well exposed, there's plenty of detail throughout the tonal range and the colours and white balance are good. What about the detailed view in the crops? The first crop looks a little noisy, the sky has a slight texture to it and the graininess is also apparent in the detail on the chapel walls. The noisiness is also affecting edge detail in this crop; the horizon where the chapel wall meets the skyline is not very well defined and the same is true of the sea/sky horizon from edge to edge.

In the second crop, the lighthouse and cliffs are quite clearly picked out and you can see a reasonable amount of detail in these distant features but, once again, the edge detail in the windows and roofs of the houses in the foreground is quite soft. In the third crop taken from close to the frame edge there looks to be a little bit of colour fringing, but it's slight and wasn't repeated anywhere else in the image. The Nikkor ED glass lens in the COOLPIX S9100 is doing an excellent job, but it doesn't produce entirely consistent results across the frame as the centre crop with its improved edge definition demonstrates.

It's worth pointing out that these blemishes will have negligible effect on image quality when viewing images at less than 100 percent and it's only if you're making big prints that they are likely to become an issue.

Compared with the PowerShot SX230 HS the COOLPIX S9100 crops don't look as good. The PowerShot SX230 HS crops have a marginal edge in several areas which adds up to a clear overall quality advantage. Both of these models have 12.1 Megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensors, but the PowerShot SX230 HS is either generating less noise or handling it better, possibly both. Whichever it is, you can see clearer sharper, better defined detail in the SX230 HS crops.

Compared with the Panasonic Lumix TZ20 /ZS10 the Nikon COOLPIX S9100 crops look to be marginally better. Both cameras suffer from the same problems, sensor noise and fallout from the processing that attempts to deal with it. But there are differences both in the nature of the noise and the degree of the problem. The fact that the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 has a higher resolution 14.1 Megapixel sensor works both for and against it. The image detail is bigger and easier to make out, but there's also more noise. If that were all, things might balance out, but the Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 crops have a processed clumpiness about them that is, well, just really unpleasant to look at. You can see it at its worst in the middle band of the lighthouse crop, look at the boundaries between the sea, cliffs and sky and the detail within those areas.

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

 


Nikon COOLPIX S9100
 
Canon PowerShot SX230 HS
 
Panasonic Lumix TZ20
f7.2, 100 ISO
f4 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f7.2, 100 ISO
f4 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f7.2, 100 ISO
f4 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f7.2, 100 ISO
f4 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO


Nikon COOLPIX S9100 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise




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