iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

8-Megapixel Digital Camera Roundup

Canon PowerShot Pro1, Minolta DIMAGE A2, Nikon COOLPIX E8700, Olympus CAMEDIA C-8080 Wide Zoom, and Sony Cyber-shot F828.

June 23, 2004



Canon PowerShot Pro1, Minolta DIMAGE A2, Nikon COOLPIX E8700, Olympus CAMEDIA C-8080 Wide Zoom, and Sony Cyber-shot F828

An 8Mp matrix in the zoom-lens class is a yet another step forward in digital camera evolution. Before, digital cameras with built-in lenses had lower resolution than reflex ones. Now, one will have to think twice whether to choose 6 Mp with interchangeable lens or 8 Mp with non-interchangeable zooming. It will cost you quite a sum to buy reflex lenses with such range of variable focal length (28-200 or even 35-280 mm), which are, on top of that, made for 8 Mp. These cameras will certainly look inferior to the reflex ones because of a limited range of long exposures and sensitivity, or (which is almost the same) due to high noise level caused by an increased sensitivity and prolonged exposures. The reason for this lies in matrices of a small absolute sensor size (8.8 x 6.6 mm (2/3" standard)), that have been fit into 8 Mp. All reviewed cameras have the same maximal frame size of 3264 x 2448 pixels.

Technical characteristics

Lens
  Construction
Focal length
Aperture
Light filter mount
Canon
PowerShot Pro1
14 elements in 10 groups, 2 asph.,
1 fluorite,
1 low-disperse UD
7.2-50.8 mm
(28-200 mm)

f/2.4-f/3.5

(Min - f/8)

bayonet (only light filter adapter for M58 mm is supplied, conversion lens one is not included)

Minolta
DIMAGE A2
16 elements in 13 groups, 2 asph., 2 AD
7.2-50.8 mm
(28-200 mm)
f/2.8-f/3.5
(Min-f/11)
M49 mm
Nikon
COOLPIX 8700
14 elements in 10 groups, 2 ED
8.9-71.2 mm
(35-280 mm)
f/2.8-f/4.2
(Min - f/8)
Additional adapter with thread fixation to the camera
Olympus
CAMEDIA C-8080 Wide Zoom
15 elements in 13 groups, 2 asph., 3 ED
7.1-35.6 mm
(28-140 mm)
f/2.4-f/3.5
(Min- f/8)
M58 mm
Sony
Cyber-shot F828
12 elements in 9 groups, 3 asph.
7/1-51 mm
(28-200)
f/2.0-f/2.8
(Min- f/8)
M58 mm

 

 
Focusing
Exposure metering
Exposure
Canon
PowerShot Pro1
hybrid TTL+external, auto, manual, AF area selection (from 0.5 m and from 0.03 m in macro) spot (throughout the frame), estimating, centre-weighted 15-1/4000 s, ±2 EV at 1/3 steps, auto/P/Tv/Av/M/ 2 user sets, programs, automatic exposure bracketing
Minolta
DIMAGE A2
TTL auto, 11 spot subject tracking, manual, AF area selection (from 0.5 m and from 0.3 / 0.25 (W/T) m in macro, frame 5.2x3.9 cm) spot (throughout the frame), multi-segment (300 segments), centre-weighted 30-1/4000 s, Bulb up to 30 sec, ±2 EV at 1/3 steps, P/A/S/M, programs, automatic 3-step exposure bracketing
Nikon
COOLPIX 8700
TTL auto, 5 areas, manual, AF area selection (from 0.5 m and from 0.03 m in macro), backlight spot (throughout the frame), matrix 256-segment, centre-weighted 8-1/4000 s, Bulb up to 10 min, ±2 EV at 1/3 steps, auto/P/S/A/M/ 2 user sets, programs, automatic exposure bracketing
Olympus
CAMEDIA
C-8080
Wide Zoom
hybrid TTL auto + external, IESP, manual, AF area selection (from 0.8 m and from 0.05 m in macro), backlight Digital ESP, spot, multispot, centre-weighted 16-1/4000 s, Bulb up to 8 min, ±2 EV at 1/3 steps, P/S/A/M/ 8 user sets, programs, automatic exposure bracketing
Sony
Cyber-shot F828
TTL auto, manual, subject tracking, AF area selection (from 0.5/0.6 m (W/T) and from 0.02 m in macro), backlight spot, multi-segment, centre-weighted 30-1/3200 s, ±2 EV at 1/3 steps, auto/P/S/A/M, programs, automatic exposure bracketing

 

 
ISO
Programs
White balance
Serial mode
Video
Canon
PowerShot Pro1
50,
100,
200,
400
portrait, landscape, night, panorama auto, manual - 2 settings, daylight, cloudiness, bulb, fluorescent - 2 types, flash speed 2.5 f/s up to 6 RAW frames, normal series 1 f/s up to 18 frames, interval shooting 1 - 60 min up to 100 frames Motion JPEG, 640x480 - 30 s / 320x240 / 160x120 - 3 min, 15 f/s
Minolta
DIMAGE A2
64,
100,
200,
400,
800
portrait, sport, sunset, night auto, manual - 3 settings, daylight, cloudiness, shade, bulb, fluorescent, flash speed 2.7 f/s up to 3 RAW frames, normal series, interval shooting 30 sec - 60 min up to 240 frames

Motion JPEG, 640x480 / 320x240 - 15 min / 544x408 - 6 min,
15/30 f/s

Nikon
COOLPIX 8700
50,
100,
200,
400
portrait, party, night portrait, beach, landscape, sunset, night, fireworks, macro, copy, back light, panorama auto, manual, daylight, cloudiness, bulb, fluorescent, flash, shade speed 2.5 f/s up to 5 frames, normal series 1.2 f/s up to 12 frames, speed for small frames Motion JPEG, 640x480 - 30 f/s up to 35 s / 320x240 15 f/s up to 180 s
Olympus
CAMEDIA
C-8080
Wide Zoom
50,
80,
100,
125,
160,
200,
250,
320,
400
portrait, night, landscape, sport auto, manual, daylight, cloudiness, shade, bulb, fluorescent - 4 types speed 1.6 f/s up to 5 frames, normal series 1.0 f/s up to 26 frames Motion JPEG, 640x480 / 320x240,
15 f/s
Sony
Cyber-shot F828
64,
100,
200,
400,
800
portrait, night portrait, night, landscape auto, manual, daylight, cloudiness, shade, artificial light, fluorescent, flash interval 0.38 sec / 0.42 sec, multi-frame up to 16 to 1 Mp MPEG1 640x480 30 f/s

 

 
Files
Removable memory
Interfaces
Power source
Canon
PowerShot Pro1
RAW, JPEG Exif 2.2, DPOF CF I/II, Microdrive USB 1.1, PictBridge, RC, A/V, DC Li-Ion BP511 /511a/ 512 / 514
Minolta
DIMAGE A2
TIFF, RAW, JPEG Exif 2.21, PIM II, DPOF CF I/II, Microdrive USB 2.0, PictBridge, RC, A/V, DC Li-Ion NP400
Nikon
COOLPIX 8700
TIFF, RAW, JPEG Exif 2.2, DPOF CF I/II, Microdrive USB 1.1, PictBridge, RC, A/V, DC Li-Ion EN-EL1
Olympus
CAMEDIA
C-8080
Wide Zoom
TIFF, RAW, JPEG Exif 2.2, DPOF CF I/II, Microdrive,
xD-Picture Card
USB 2.0, PictBridge, RC, A/V, DC Li-Ion BLM1
Sony
Cyber-shot F828
TIFF, RAW, JPEG Exif 2.2, PIM II, DPOF CF I/II, Microdrive, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro USB 2.0, PictBridge, RC, A/V, DC Li-Ion NP-FM50

 

 
Flash
Display
Viewfinder
Size
(mm)
Weight (g)
Canon
PowerShot Pro1
preflash E-TTL, impulse correction +-2 Ev
iso 100 0.5-5.0 m (W), 1.0-3.5 m (T),
modes: RedEye reduction, on/off, rear curtian sync, hot shoe
2" TFT, 235000, histogram at viewing
0.44" TFT, 235000
117.5
x
72
x
90.3
545
Minolta
DIMAGE A2
Guide number 8 (iso 100),
ADI, preflash, impulse correction +-2 Ev
iso "auto" 0.5-3.8 m (W), 0.5-3.0 m (T),
modes: RedEye reduction, on/off, rear curtain sync, hot shoe
46 mm TFT, 118000, grid, scale, histogram at shooting
11 mm TFT, 922000
117
x
85
x
113.5
565
Nikon
COOLPIX 8700
0.5-4.1 m (W), 0.5-2.7 m (T),
modes: RedEye reduction, on/off, hot shoe
1.8" TFT, 134000, grid, histogram at shooting
0.44" TFT, 235000
113
x
105
x
78
480
Olympus
CAMEDIA
C-8080
Wide Zoom
Guide number 9, 0.8-5.3 m (W), 0.8-3.6 m (T),
modes: RedEye reduction, on/off, hot shoe
1.8" TFT, 134000, histogram at shooting
0.44" TFT, 240000
124
x
84.5
x
99
660
Sony
Cyber-shot F828
0.5-4.5 m (W), 0.6-3.3 m (T),
modes: RedEye reduction, on/off, hot shoe
1.8" TFT, 134400, histogram at shooting
0.44" TFT, 235200
134.4
x
91.1
x
157.2
955

 

Canon PowerShot Pro1




The camera features an L series red-ring lens and its name contains a suggestive Pro. The advertising brochure mentions an up-to-A2 printing while the lens has a quiet USM drive that is supposed to speed up zooming. Focusing is hybrid: a passive TTL + external. The DIGIC processor must ensure speedy work, low noise level and the right colour rendering with sRGB and Adobe RGB coding. Shutter speed can be controled by exposure, aperture, and the neutral filter. Manual focusing is performed with the lens ring which manages zooming in the AF mode. Compatibility with the PictBridge standard enables printing without a PC if the printer supports the standard. Apart from frame-by-frame and serial shootings, the camera also has an interval mode where up to 100 frames can be made at intervals from 1 to 60 minutes. More details about Canon PowerShot Pro1.

Minolta DIMAGE A2




Features: electronic viewfinder with a high resolution of 922000 pixels (which is 3-4 times higher than other cameras have) and a 30/60 f/s variable refresh rate, the Anti-Shake function (matrix stabilisation that enables hand shooting at exposures 3 times longer than in cameras without stabilisation), the AF spot movable almost throughout the frame, 544x408 video recording with sound and a 30 f/s frequency, depth-of-field estimation mode. The camera is the closest to the reflex ones in the sense you get at shooting due to a mechanical zooming drive and a lens focusing ring. Exposure index is up to 800, maximal close aperture is f/11. A histogram is shown in the display at shooting. More details about Minolta DIMAGE A2.

Nikon COOLPIX 8700




The camera design continues the Nikon 5000/5400/5700 line. The lens (35-280 mm equivalent) has the longest focus among the reviewed cameras. A histogram and a grid with diagonals are displayed at shooting. Zooming is a lever one as there are no zooming and focusing rings. The serial mode is marked by the option to write the last five (and not only the first five) shots to the card and by the selection of the best serial shot in terms of exposure and focusing (the BSS function). Interval shooting enables to make series at given intervals (30 sec to 60 min) as well as to shoot an interval series and record it as a video clip. More details about Nikon COOLPIX 8700.

Olympus CAMEDIA C-8080 Wide Zoom




It has the most frugal zoom which is 28-140 mm in equivalent of a 35mm camera. Zooming is a lever one. The AF system is hybrid: TTL and an external passive AF sensor (it is called triangulation method in Canon). The Sunshine display is modified for the use in a bright sunlight. C8080 has 8 sets of shooting partameters, the richest variety of personal settings. Exposure metering (besides customary Digital ESP, spot, and centre-weighted) is possible by 8 spots chosen at the photographer's own will. A histogram and a screen grid are displayed at shooting.

Sony Cyber-shot F828




The camera features a 4-colour RGBE light filter (E stands for emerald). Super HAD CCD SONY with an emerald filter ensures a better transmission of green-blue and red shades. Real Imaging Processor transforms the RGBE signal in the RBG format, lowers the noises and energy consumption, and also increases operating speed. A rotating Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens has two rings that enable a manual regulation of focusing (motorised) and zooming (mechanical). The camera is compatible with Memory Stick and Compact Flash cards. It also features Night Shot and Night Framing modes, a Macro mode with a 2-cm minimal distance to the object, 640x480 video recording at 30 f/s (MPEG1). A histogram is displayed at shooting. More details about Sony F828.

Comparison

It is not difficult to find a description of each camera, but customers can be interested in their comparison in similar conditions. So, we're going to compare the optics quality and the white/noise balance (a Kodak target).

Resolution (lens and matrix)

Frame centre

Let us compare cameras' resolutions in the frame centre. Shooting conditions are as follows:
1) frame centre - aperture about f/5.6 - focal length close to the 50-mm equivalent of a 35mm camera,
2) frame centre - focal length close to the 50-mm equivalent of a 35mm camera - extreme aperture values,
3) frame centre - aperture about f/5.6 - extreme focal lengths.

Because the cameras have the same frame size in pixels, total resolution can be estimated as the resolution of lines per pixel. A red circle in the line target is a blur circle built according to the lines' discernibility in all directions.

Fragments 1:1.

Target, frame centre, aperture close to f/5,6
Target, frame centre, extreme aperture values
Target, frame centre, aperture close to f/5,6, extreme focal length values













































Nikon has the best result for an f/5.6 aperture an a frame centre with the focal length f = 10-12 mm (40-50 mm for a 35mm film). The circle diameter is 68 pixels on 180 target lines (both black and white) which gives 0.84 lines/pixel. Olympus shows a close 0.81. Canon and Minolta have somewhat lower results, about 0.75, and Sony finishes the list with its 0.73. If resolution was the same for the whole frame field, 8Mp cameras would have only a 5Mp (8x0.8x0.8) information capacity for black and white stripes of the target.

Resolution at extreme aperture values is usually worse than in the second and the third steps. According to our measurements, the minimal aperture is not worse (and even a bit better in the case of Canon and Olympus) for an 8Mp matrix. At f/8, only Canon and Nikon show no significant decrease in resolution. Minolta enables to set diagram f/11 at shooting, but it results in a resolution fall down to 0.63 lines/pixel or just a 3.1Mp information capacity.

At extreme focal lengths with aperture f/5.6, resolution is not worse than at a focal length close to a 40-50mm equivalent for a 35mm camera.

Lens quality for image rendering on the frame periphery

Lenses of each camera have elements made of low-disperse glass, and aspheric lenses, as expensive zoom lens cameras are supposed to render image well both in the centre and on the periphery. To estimate the extent of chromatic abberations and distortion on the frame edge, we'll shoot an annular target in the frame corner for three typical focal lengths: two extremes and a medium one.

Target

Fragments 1:1.
















Frame edge, chromatic abberations

Using the Levels module (Dmitry Kuznetsov), we'll build brightness histograms for the annular target (fragments above, centre-edge, direction: frame diagonal).

Minimal focal length

Canon, f=7.75 mm



Minolta, f=7.2 mm



Nikon, f=8.9 mm



Olympus, f=7.1 mm



Sony, f=7.1 mm



Canon, Nikon, and Olympus score best in chromatic abberations at a short focus. Minolta and Sony show somewhat worse results.

Maximal focal length

Canon, f=46.3 mm



Minolta, f=50.7 mm



Nikon, f=71.2 mm



Olympus, f=35.6 mm



Sony, f=51 mm



A long focus yields results similar to the short one, except a certain quality decrease in Nikon. But we shouldn't forget that its lens has the longest focus, so an increase in chromatic abberations is quite justified. The low sharpness of Nikon's target for the frame edge (target fragments) is not caused by the lens quality but by an impossible simultaneous autofocus use for the edge and timer activation. Nikon's autofocus responds immediately before the shooting, while in most cameras, it responds on shutter release. The approach seems quite sensible as auto release is a mode designed to shoot the person himself, and you can't be in the place of shooting when you're releasing the shutter. Therefore, Nikon has the following succession of actions: auto release activation - shutter release - pause - focusing - shooting. But you won't be able to use autofocus to prevent camera shake when shooting a target in the frame corner (where there is no focusing spot), as teh camera will make a refocusing.

Macro

Camera specs read that an object can be 2-3 cm away from the lens in the Macro mode. But using Canon, you can't capture an 8Mp shot from such distance. Real macro shooting gives the follwing figures:

Camera
Canon Pro1
Minolta DIMAGE A2
Nikon 8700
Olympus C8080
Sony 828
frame size (longest side), mm
90
52
42
40
50

White/noise auto balance

It is another important indicator of a camera's quality. We shot a Kodak table on the white background to draw a comparison within the whole sensitivity range in a mixed artificial light. Noise reduction wasn't forced.

Test object: a table on the white background.



Fragments of four fields for different sensitivities, 1:1 scale.




White auto balance shows various effectiveness in these conditions. A colour shift is visible in Minolta and Canon.

If we edit each fragment (4 for each camera and each iso) in Photoshop using Levels, we can make a more detailed comparison of noises made to look like in ultimate shots. Each quadruple was edited basing on the following algorithm: the white field was assigned with RGB 240:240:240 colour, the black one with 50:50:50.




Minolta, Olympus, Sony, and Canon show the least noise at minimal sensitivity. When sensitivity is increased, Canon and Minolta show a noise rise, and Olympus and Sony take the lead. At iso 400, Olympus has the lowest noise.

Shooting speed

Camera
Canon Pro1
Minolta DIMAGE A2
Nikon E8700
Olympus C8080
Sony F828
raw, frames in series / series shooting time / saving series
4 / 5 s / 40 s
3 / 1 s / 45 s
5 / 2.5 s / 75 s
5 / 3 s / 75 s
no
jpeg, frames in series / series shooting time / saving series
13 / 12 s / 60 s
3 / 1 s / 18 s
5 / 2.5 s / 15 s
5 / 2.5 s / 20 s
7 / 3 s / 13 s
tiff, frames in series / series shooting time / saving series
no
no
no
no
no
raw, frame-by-frame, frames per interval / interval after buffer filling / file size
4 in 7 s / then 10 s / 8 MB
3 in 4 s / 11 s / 11.8 MB
interval 10 s / 12.4 MB
interval 15 s / 11.8 MB
interval 13 s / 17.3 MB raw + 3.3 MB jpeg
jpeg, frame-by-frame, frames per interval / interval after buffer filling / file size
13 in 20 s / then 5 s / 3.6 MB
6 in 8 s / then 4 s / 4.7 MB
interval 4 s / 2.6 MB
10 in 17 s / then 4 s / 3 MB
interval 1.5-2 s / 3 MB
tiff, frame-by-frame, frames per interval / interval after buffer filling / file size
no
interval 27 s / 23.4 MB
interval 22 s / 23.5 MB
interval 20 s / 23.4 MB
interval 13 s / 23 MB tiff + 3 MB jpeg

There is no leader in digital image quality. Olympus has a narrower range of possible focal length, equivalent to 28-140 mm for a 35mm camera. Nikon's optics is better for photo hunting and macro shooting, but its minimal focal length is 35 mm (for a 35 mm camera). Canon and Minolta score best in shooting speed (series and frame-by-frame). But Canon's total effective speed is not high due to low zooming and focusing speed. Minolta and Sony proved the most handy cameras to shoot with.

Sergey Sherbakov (sherbakovs@ixbt.com)

21.06.2004


Write a comment below. No registration needed!


Article navigation:



blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook


9

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.