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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX700 Ken McMahon, January 2011

Panasonic Lumix FX700 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Panasonic Lumix FX700 vs Sony Cyber-shot TX9 vs Nikon COOLPIX S80 High ISO Noise

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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FX700, the Sony Cyber-shot TX9 and the Nikon COOLPIX S80 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

All three cameras were set to Program Auto exposure mode, the lenses were set to approximate the same field of view and ISO was manually set.

The above shot was taken with the the Panasonic Lumix FX700 in Program mode with the lens set to 6.1mm (34mm equivalent). The ISO sensitivity was set to 100 ISO and the exposure was 0.4 of a second at f2.8. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

Like the Sony Cyber-shot TX9, which also has a CMOS sensor, the Lumix FX700 crops are lacking detail in the shadow regions. The image isn't under-exposed, all three cameras in this test selected similar exposures and the histogram from the Lumix FX700 isn't clipped at either end, nonetheless, you can't see a great deal in the shadows.

To look at the first 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FX700 you'd think it had come from a shot taken with a much higher ISO sensitivity. Where there is good tonal detail - in the stone column on the left - there isn't as much image detail as you'd expect. The vertical lines in the column are just about visible, but you can't make out much of the finer detail and the edge of the column is starting to break up even at this base ISO setting.

At 200 ISO things don't look a great deal different and if ther's any loss in detail it's marginal. That's just as well because the Lumix FX700 didn't exactly make a sparkling start. It's worth noting here that there's no evidence of noise in these crops and the lack of detail and clumpy appearance is a consequence of processing the sensor data, most probably to remove excessive noise. So what we're looking at is not noise, but evidence of its removal.

Whereas on most compacts you'd expect to be able to use the 400 ISO setting without too much of a quality compromise, on the Lumix FX700 the image quality really is beginning to look quite poor. At 800 and 1600 ISO you really don't expect good image quality from any sensor, so it's at these mid-range ISO settings that the degradation has most impact.

Compared with the crops from the Sony Cyber-shot TX9, the Lumix FX700 actually doesn't fare too badly. But the Cybershot crops do show better detail throughout the ISO range and, where it matters most, up to and including 400 ISO, the Cyber-shot TX9 is a ahead by a clear length. The outright winner in this high ISO noise comparison, though, is the Nikon COOLPIX S80, the only model to produce crops with good tonal detail in the shadows and to reproduce good image detail with little evidence of either noise or image processing at the lower ISO sensitivity settings

Now head over to our Panasonic Lumix FX700 gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Panasonic Lumix FX700
Sony Cyber-shot TX9
80 ISO Not available
80 ISO Not available
80 ISO
100 ISO
125 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 (High Sens scene mode)
3200 ISO
3200 ISO (3M)
6400 ISO Not available
6400 ISO Not available
6400 ISO (3M)

Panasonic Lumix FX700 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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