From the samples below, it's clear the Sony N2 employs a different strategy to noise and noise reduction than its closest rival here, the Canon A640. Where the A640 avoids heavy noise reduction to preserve detail, but at the cost of visible speckling, the N2 appears to apply greater noise reduction for smoother results.
Each approach has its pros and cons, and the problem with high noise reduction is often a loss of ultimate detail and strange smearing artefacts. The flat colours of the Gretag chart here mask any problems concerning lost detail, but it's clear to see there's some undesirable coloured artefacts in the Sony crops below, especially at its highest 1600 ISO sensitivity. As always though, it's crucial to also compare high ISO performance on real-life outdoor subjects which we'll cover on the next page.
Note: we have compared 100% crops from each camera here measuring 136x136 pixels. Since the Sony N2 and Canon A640 employ higher resolution sensors, these crops represent a smaller area of their total image size than the Fujifilm F30 and Panasonic TZ1. As such, any artefacts seen on the Sony N2 and Canon A640 crops would appear smaller than those on the other crops if the original images were printed exactly the same size.