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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 Ken McMahon, August 2010

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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

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To compare real-life performance we shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55, and the Nikon COOLPIX S8000 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, the Panasonic and Sony cameras were set to Program mode and the COOLPIX S8000 was set to Auto mode. All three cameras were set to manual ISO and the lowest available sensitivity - 80 ISO on the Cyber-shot DSC-H55 and the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 and 100 ISO on the COOLPIX S8000.


The above image was taken with the Panasonic Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 in Program mode. The lens was set to 5 mm (30mm equivalent) and the metering selected an exposure of 1/400th of a second at f4 with an ISO setting of 80. The original 4000 x 3000 pixel image had a file size of 4.92MB.

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. The Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 has, nonetheless, made a good job of the exposure, though there is some blown highlight detail in the sky. The detail in the shadow areas is good, though, and we think the Lumix could have retained some of that highlight detail by choosing a slightly faster shutter speed without a negative impact on the shadows. The colours, partucularly the greens are vibrant, well-saturated and natural-looking, but the white balance is a little on the blue side. When you look at the crops side by side both the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 and COOLPIX S8000 crops look very blue when compared to the more neutral-looking results from the Cyber-shot H55, but seeing them side-by-side like this probably makes it look worse than it would appear if you were viewing the image in isolation..

Now let's look at the detailed crops. Generally, the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 crops show a good level of detail, particularly in the crops taken from the central region of the image. But as you move towards the edge of the frame the clarity and definition begins to falter. The best detail can be seen in the top crop of the chapel and the last one of the balcony. The fine detail in the balcony dividers, the rails and the green glass roof right at the bottom of the crop is crisp and clear. But in the lighthouse crop the lighthouse itself is poorly defined and the houses in the foreground look blurred.

There's also some evidence of image processing in the form of a white halo around the chapel and along the horizon - if you're looking at this on an LCD screen changing your vertical angle of view will make it more visible. You'd probably never notice this unless you were looking at full sized images, but it's the kind of thing that further image processing, particularly sharpening will make worse.

The crops from the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 compare pretty favourably with those from the Sony Cyber-shot H55. Like the TZ8 / ZS5, the Cyber-shot H55 also suffers from haloing on contrasting edges, but not quite to the same degree. And if you compare the detail in the crops overall there's not a great deal to choose between them. The Cyber-shot H55 is more consistent, though; the detail at the edge of the frame is just as well defined as that in the crops from the centre and that can't be said for the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5. While some regions of the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 image show better definition than the Cyber-shot H55, others, in particular the lighthouse crop, look markedly worse.

The Nikon COOLPIX S8000 had the same problem with white balance as the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 and has produced an image with a slight blue cast. It also has the halo problem, though to a greater degree than both the Lumix TZ8 / ZS5 and Cyber-shot H55. Generally the definition in the COOLPIX 8000 crops isn't as good as in the Lumix ones; while the edge crops - where the Lumix performed worst - show a similar level of detail to the COOLPIX S8000, as you move towards the centre, the Lumix gets better but the COOLPIX doesn't. The COOLPIX images also exhibit a granular clumpiness that further obscures fine image detail. Now let's see how they compare at higher sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results.

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

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 / ZS5 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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