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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 Real-life resolution

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FX700, Sony Cyber-shot TX9 and Nikon COOLPIX S80 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 Panasonic Lumix FX700 in Program mode. The lens was zoomed to a focal length of 6.1mm (34mm equivalent) and the metering selected an exposure of 1/250th of a second at f4 with the sensitivity at 100 ISO. The original 4320x3240 pixel image had a file size of 5.82MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and are presented here at 100%.

In bright sunny conditions, this scene, with a wide tonal range that inevitably gets clipped, can be very demanding of compact sensors. But in the cloudy bright conditions that prevailed on the day of our test it didn't pose too much of a problem for the Lumix TX700 which has got the exposure exactly right. Colours are good, possibly a little on the blue side, but well-saturated and natural-looking.

Take even a casual glance at the crops, however, and a less rosy picture emerges. Crops from every region of the frame have clumpy granular consistency which is obscuring the finer image detail. It's no exaggeration to say that the chapel in the first crop looks like a detail from a French impressionist painting. The lighthouse in the second crop has disappeared from view and even the detail in the balconies on the final crop from near the centre of the frame lacks the crisp edges that you'd expect and can see in the crops from the other two cameras. Whatever the cause, and it's most likely the Lumix FX700's Venus processing engine working overtime to deal with excessive sensor noise, the result is an image with much less detail than you'd expect from a compact in this class.

Compared with crops from both the Sony Cyber-shot TX9 and the Nikon COOLPIX S80 the Lumix FX700 crops look, there's no other way to put it, quite poor. The Cyber-shot TX9 crops are in a different class with excellent fine detail and none of the processing artifacts present in the FX700 crops. Having said that, the Lumix FX700's Leica lens manages to avoid the chromatic aberration that the Cyber-shot's lens has succumbed to.

The gap between the COOLPIX S80 and the Lumix FX700 is less pronounced. Like the FX700, the COOLPIX S80 crops are also clumpy and processed looking, but to a lesser degree that retains more of the image detail. In general, though the quality of the Lumix FX700 crops is not as good as those from the COOLPIX S80, they are more consistent. The COOLPIX crops get softer towards the edge of the frame, but what detail there is in the Lumix FX700 crops is every bit as good at the periphery as in the centre.

It's probably worth pointing out here that these quality differences aren't something you'd ordinarily notice unless you were looking at or close to 100 percent magnification. Even full screen on an average sized monitor the magnification isn't likely to be more than about 30 percent and these differences will be much less significant. If you want to make large prints though, the quality will become an issue.

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

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

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

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