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Sony Cyber-shot HX50V Ken McMahon, June 2013
 
 

Sony HX50V vs Canon SX280 HS vs Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 Noise

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  Sony HX50V results
1 Sony HX50V Quality JPEG
2 Sony HX50V Noise
3 Sony HX50V Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions , I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V, the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS and the Panasonic Lumix ZS30 / TZ40 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The lenses were all set to their maximum wide angle - an equivalent of 24mm on the Sony HX50V and Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 and 25mm on the Canon SX280 HS. The cameras were all set to Program exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually.



The above shot was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V in Program auto exposure mode. The HX50V was mounted on a tripod for this test, image stabilsation can't be disabled on the HX50V and, in the absence of any indication that it's automatically turned off when the camera is tripod-mounted I assume it's active. In Program Auto mode the HX50V metered an exposure of 1/4 at f3.5 at the base 80 ISO sensitivity setting. For the Canon SX280 HS the exposure was 1/4 at f3.5 and the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 metered 1/4 at f3.3.

Before I examine the crops in detail let's remind ourselves what we're looking at here. All three of these compact models are fitted with a sensor that's the same 1/2.3 inch physical size, but the Sony HX50V has the highest resolution with 20.4 Megapixels followed by the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 with 18.1 Megapixels and finally the Canon SX280 HS at 12.1 Megapixels. So with the highest pixel density you might expect the Sony HX50V to have the worst noise performance of the three, and the Canon SX280 HS the best, with the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 somewhere in the middle. So lets take a look.

Because it has the highest resolution sensor, the crops from the Sony HX50V show the smallest area with the biggest detail. At the base 80 ISO sensitivity there's some noticeable noise in the HX50V crop with visible texture in the plain coloured wall, the darker memorial panel, the model boat and the flowers, in other words everywhere. The 80 ISO crop from the Canon SX280 HS next to it has a similar amount of noisy texture, though it's slightly less intrusive and clumpy-looking, at least in part due to the smaller detail.

The Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 has no 80 ISO setting, so the first chance we get to compare all three is at 100 ISO. The Sony HX50V and Canon SX280 HS 100 ISO crops look similar to the 80 ISO ones, though the noise has increased marginally on both. Likewise, the crop from the 18 Megapixel Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 is visibly textured and, like the other two, the noise is bad enough to affect detail everywhere, particularly in the text panel. Don't forget though that you'll really only notice noise at this level if you're looking closely at 100 percent sizes. At smaller magnification results from all three look nice and clean with high levels of detail, so this is only really an issue if you're making big prints or cropping quite a lot.

At 200 ISO the Sony HX50V crop is already suffering quite badly. There's a coarse granularity that's obscuring the detail and some smearing too. Note how some of the letters in the text panel have blurred and blended with the background. The edges are also beginning to crumble a little in this HX50V 200 ISO crop. By comparison, both the SX280 HS and ZS30 / TZ40 crops are holding up well. They too are noisier than the 100 ISO crops, the Canon SX280 HS crop looks a little softer but there's plenty of fine detail and the text is still legible. The same goes for the ZS30 / TZ40 crop, it's a little softer and less contrasty than the 100 ISO one, but stil looks good and has plenty of detail.

By 400 ISO the Sony HX50V crop is now looking very bitty indeed. The text panel is mostly a smudgy blur and the edges, particularly the left side of the memorial panel are look very messy. At 400 ISO there's a further slight softening of the Canon SX280 HS crop, but the detail is still holding up well. The same can be said of the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 crop, though I'd say the Canon has moved out in front with less noise and more detail than the 18 Megapixel ZS30 / TZ40.

Interestingly, at 800 ISO it all evens up a little, with crops from all three models exhibiting a similar level of noise. The Canon SX280 HS is still out in front and the Sony HX50V trails the pack, but the difference is much less obvious than at 400 ISO. It's a similar story at 1600 ISO, though by now the crops from all three models are as much noise as image data, but the Canon SX280 HS maintains its edge with a higher level of detail, cleaner edges and less intrusive graininess. Beyond 1600 ISO nothing looks very pretty. Note that the 6400 and 12800 settings on the HX50V are stacking modes - the camera takes several shots in quick succession, then produces a composite. Though they may be better than a single shot result from this sensor, there's still not an awful lot of detail to be seen amidst the noise,

Overall, these results are pretty much what you'd expect. In practice, there's not much to choose between these three models at their base senstivity settings, but above that, in the lower range up to 400 ISO the 12 Megapixel Canon SX280 HS and Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 produce better results with less noise. At the higher sensitivity settings above 400 ISO though, it even out with little practical difference between models.

Now head over to my Sony HX50V sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Sony HX50V
 
Canon SX280 HS
 
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30

80 ISO

80 ISO
80 ISO Not available

100 ISO

100 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
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO Not available
Hand-held Twilight 200 ISO
Hand Held Night Scene 1000 ISO
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO


Sony HX50V
results : Sony HX50V Quality / Sony HX50V Noise


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