Sony Cyber-shot TX10 vs Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS vs Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 Resolution
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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot TX10, Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, and Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 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 cameras were set to Program auto exposure mode.
The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting on each camera. The Sony was set to 125 ISO and the Canon and Panasonic were set to 100 ISO.
The image above was taken with the Cyber-shot TX10 with its lens at 4.43mm (25mm equivalent). The camera metered 1/640 at f4.5 and 125 ISO. The original image measured 4.07MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red rectangles and presented here at 100%.
The overall result from the Cyber-shot TX10 is pretty good. The exposure is good and there is excellent shadow detail with no blown highlights. The colours look a little under-saturated, though that’s something of a personal opinion, and the image lacks contrast, a fact born out by the histogram.
What about the detailed picture? The first crop isn’t high on detail, there isn’t much of it in the grassy hilside of the foreground, nor the wall and roof of the chapel building, but the second crop is more encouraging. The distant lighthouse is fairly well defined given the slightly hazy conditions and the edge detail in the houses in the foreground is good, but there’s a clumpiness obscuring a lot of the fine detail which is most clearly evident in the lighthouse island, the upper row of rooftops where they meet the sea and the rooftops at the bottom edge of the frame.
The third crop, from the edge of the frame, shows up the clumpiness even more clearly and also looks slightly soft, though in the final crop the straight white lines of the window frames are well resolved, but the writing on the banners is less clear. So a bit of a mixed bag, here with the Cyber-shot TX10’s 4x zoom lens doing a good job at the wide angle setting but the BIONZ processor struggling a little to retain fine image detail from the 16.2 Megapixel sensor.
There’s no doubt that the 12.1 Megapixel sensor of the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS produces superior results to the Cyber-shot TX10’s 16.2 Megapixel sensor. The Cyber-shot TX10 crops are generally clumpier with less of the fine detail picked out. The difference is most pronounced in the first and third crops, with the window crop looking clumpy by comparison with the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, though lacking the colour fringing problem. Overall, the Cyber-shot results are impressive for a 16 Megapixel model, but no match for the Canon.
Crops from the 12 Megapixel Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 look soft by comparison with those of both the Cyber-shot TX10 and the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS. The FX77 / FX78 crops are even less contrasty than those of the Cyber-shot TX10, but that may be at least partly due to the fact that the FX77 / FX78 overexposed the shot. So, not a great deal to differentiate quality-wise between the Cyber-shot TX10 and Lumix FX77 / FX78, with both losing some fine image detail in the first instance to clumpiness and the second softness.
To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot TX10, Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS and the Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 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 (called Normal Picture mode on the Lumix FX77), and the lenses were set to approximately the same field of view, in this case the widest focal length setting which is roughly equivalent on all three. The ISO sensitivity was set manually.
The above shot was taken with the the Sony Cyber-shot TX10 in Program mode. The lens was set to its default wide angle setting of 4.43mm (25mm equivalent), the sensitivity was set to 125 ISO and the exposure was 0.4 of a second at f3.5. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.
The first crop from the Sony Cyber-shot TX10 looks like it was taken at a higher ISO sensitivity than 125. What detail there is in the stone column on the left looks pixelated and the vertical lines in the wood panelling look soft and a little smeared; on the positive side, the exposure and white balance are spot on.
At 200 ISO it’s the same story only more so, that’s more softness, more smearing and less detail. At these lower ISO sensitivity settings you won’t notice the poor detail unless you’re looking very closely or making bit prints. The problem is that, with the processor struggling to remove noise and retain image detail at the lowest ISO sensitivities, as soon as more pressure is applied things immediately get visibly worse. Beyond 200 ISO the image quality really does suffer. Hats off to Sony for even attempting to include a 3200 ISO setting but one of its low-light composite modes will produce better results.
Compared with the Sony Cyber-shot TX10 the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS results look sparkling. The Canon’s 12 Megapixel sensor produces a lot less noise at 100 ISO than the Cyber-shot TX10 at 125 ISO and the images are much less processed-looking with a lot more detail. The IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS maintains this advantage throughout the ISO range and its Handheld Night Scene composite mode also produces an impressive result comapred with the Cyber-shot TX10’s Anti Motion Blur.
The Pansonic LUMIX FX77 / FX78 strikes another blow for the argument that lower pixel resolutions on compact sensors produce better quality results with better detail and less processing at the lower ISO sensitivities. At both 100 and 200 ISO the Lumix FX77 / FX78 crops looks better than those from the Cyber-shot TX10. Above 400 ISO the Lumix doesn’t quite manage to hold on to its lead the way the IXUS does, though, it lacks a 3200 ISO option and its Handheld Night Shot composite mode operates at greatly reduced resolution.
The final row compares the composite low-light mode of all three models. Each has chosen a different ISO sensitivity so the results aren’t a strict comparison except that they do show the results each camera will produce in the same circumstances. We’ve used Anti Motion Blur mode on the Cyber-shot TX10 as the Hand-held Twilight result was underexposed. Of the three, the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS appears to have produced the best result with an ISO sensitivity of 800 that’s clearly better than the straight 800 ISO crop. The Lumix result also looks good, albeit at a reduced image size of 2048 x 1536 pixels.