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Digital Photography Review's logo. Click here to visit the Digital Photography Review website! DPReview: 8mpix camera review day
By
(Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 13:12 EDT)

Well, our good friend Phil Askey has definitely been busy lately (does he ever sleep?)

He's just posted no less than four reviews of eight megapixel cameras today, allowing for a great opportunity to compare the current crop side-by-side (including his previous review of Sony's 8mpix Cyber-shot DSC-F828). Here's a quick (partial) summary of his thoughts, but if you're in the market for an eight megapixel camera, you'll definitely want to read all of the reviews in-depth, since so much about digital cameras comes down to your own personal requirements and tastes:

Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 (Recommended) -
"The DiMAGE A2 takes the A1 design and increases the resolution to eight megapixels. The A1's primary unique feature (among many other good design features) is the Anti Shake system which works by stabilizing the sensor on a movable platform instead of moving any of the lens elements. This ingenious solution works, and still works on the DiMAGE A2 although I personally didn't find it that useful in 90% of everyday shooting situations (your mileage may vary).

One thing improved was overall performance, the DiMAGE A2 starts up quickly (if it weren't for the ultra-fast Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom the A2 would be the fastest eight megapixel), and has good shot to shot times. The biggest noticeable improvement is in auto focus speed, the camera just seems to be 'ready' very soon after you've half pressed the shutter release. Or better still just feels more responsive in those point-and-shoot situations. Imagine the disappointment then when we discovered that while fast the AF system seemed a bit hit and miss, showing us the white AF OK indicator dot when in fact the focus was either way out or just slightly out. We also had some issues with randomly soft images (as well as AF misses) and artifacts from moiré - I think the lens is being used beyond it's capabilities."
Canon Powershot Pro1 (Recommended) -
"In use the Canon felt slightly slower than I was expecting, certainly not much faster than the G5 and I didn't see any marked improvement in speed overall from that camera.

Overall image quality was good, that L lens proving it can deliver the resolution and that Canon's reliable DiGiC image processor can turn out a quality image with good tonal and color balance and no noticeable artifacts. We had two areas of disappointment from an image quality stance, firstly the lens exhibited noticeable lens shading especially at wide angle and/or maximum aperture, secondly noise levels were high enough to be seen at ISO 100 and progressively worse at higher sensitivities.

The Pro1 left me feeling neither hot nor cold, the camera delivered as much resolution as we had expected with on the whole good image quality but didn't really perform as we would hope 'across the board'."
Nikon Coolpix 8700 (Recommended) -
"[It's] clear that the 8700 has changed quite a bit under the skin, the camera starts more quickly (although is still not fast in that respect), feels more responsive and has slightly faster shot to shot times.

On the whole image quality was good, Nikon's matrix metering ensuring that almost every shot is perfectly exposed helps a lot. Tonal balance was good and color response was neutral while still appealing, resolution performance was less than we had hoped although the 8700 did well in our side-by-side studio comparison shot. White balance was a revelation, the 8700 delivering the best automatic white balance results of all the eight megapixel digital cameras we tested in this group.

Unfortunately the Coolpix 8700, like a couple of other eight megapixel prosumer digital cameras just feels like another 'me too' product. It certainly delivers good image quality and has the required range of features but also doesn't break the mold and doesn't stand out in any particular way."
Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide Zoom (Highly Recommended) -
"My first impression of the C-8080 Wide Zoom was, "at last a prosumer camera that feels as though it is worth its price tag". The C-8080 is built to a higher standard than any of the other eight megapixel digital cameras (save maybe the Sony DSC-F828), with a thick, high grade metal body simple rubber coating and innovative yet unfussy control layout.

Olympus didn't rush to go down the 7x or 8x zoom route, instead they chose a 5x design but kept the lens diameter big and used high quality glass. This has paid off, image quality is excellent, resolution very high with almost no artifacts and no problems created by the lens itself.

The second asset is the camera's performance, being in the right place at the right time to get that once in a lifetime shot is one thing, having the camera switched on and ready is another. Thanks to an amazingly short startup time and short auto focus and shutter release lag you're far more likely to capture the moment with the C-8080 than some of the competition, and we really shouldn't underestimate that.

Take other elements into account, good noise reduction keeping higher ISO's cleaner, a good range of image parameter adjustment, good flash performance, the unique 'direct histogram' feature, superb battery life and an excellent LCD monitor which works well even outdoors and there's little doubt the C-8080 deserves our highest rating."
*phew* - this will definitely keep you busy reading for a few hours, and must have kept Phil in the studio at all hours for quite some time. Kudos to the Digital Photography Review for four great reviews, and to Olympus for impressing him enough to merit his highest rating...

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