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Hewlett Packard PhotoSmart C20 Digital Camera Test Images

 
Outdoor portrait: (397k) The outdoor portrait shot from the C20 shows excellent tonal range, good detail, and bright colors, with almost no trace of JPEG artifacts. Our main shot (397k) here was taken with the exposure compensation set up one "notch" (0.5 EV?), and shows some tendency to lose detail in the highlights, while we'd also like to see the skin tones just a tad lighter. The default exposure (412k) preserves detail in the strong highlight of the shirt, while leaving the skin tones a bit dark. An exposure compensation of two "notches" produced this shot, (418k) with better skin tones, but definitely washed-out highlights. Like most digital cameras, the C20 applies some "sharpening" in the camera, boosting contrast slightly aoround the edges of objects. The effect in the C20 is fairly subtle, but can be seen around the edges of some of the leaves, where they appear in front of the model's bright white shirt. (Being techno-tweaks, we personally prefer to apply sharpening after the fact, in Photoshop. Most "normal" folks should find the in-camera sharpening of the C20 about right.)
 
Closer portrait: (373k) While the wide-angle lens distorts the model's features somewhat, this close-up shot shows excellent detail and tonal range. One thing we noted in particular is that there are no glaring tonal breaks in the skin tones, which we've sometimes seen result from cameras' built-in image-sharpening routines. There is an odd color-saturation break in the model's lower lip THOUGH, where it's in shadow from her nose. The main shot was taken with nominal exposure (no adjustment), while this one (357k) was adjusted up by 1 EV to lighten the skin tones at the expense of highlight detail. Overall excellent performance, but slight problems with the extreme contrast range.  
Indoor portrait, flash: (403k) This has proven to be a tricky shot for many cameras, since the color balance of the ambient lighting and the flash are so different. The C20 applies more flash than most cameras in this situation, producing an image with good color balance, but somewhat "flat" lighting. In contrast to the no-flash shot below, the colors in the flowers are more saturated than the originals, rather than less. Although we didn't make use of it here, one feature of the C20 that we particularly like is that the exposure-compensation control appears to affect both flash and normal exposures: The ability to control flash exposure is a very welcome enhancement.  
Indoor portrait, no flash: (421k) Although the C20 lacks the explicit white-balance compensation settings of many other cameras, we found little to quibble with over its color balance under widely varying conditions. This indoor non-flash shot shows almost no trace of the yellow color balance of the incandescent lighting, although the colors in the flowers were much more muted than they appeared to the human eye. We commented in the main review on the C20's excellent low-light performance: This shot (taken at ~EV12) is far from "low light", but we were nonetheless impressed with how bright it turned out. With the exposure compensation adjusted up two notches (407k) (+1EV), the image becomes bright enough to blow out the highlights: Few cameras tested would do this. While this test shot is fairly brightly lit by common residential standards, it's safe to say that the camera could perform well even in fairly softly-lit rooms.  
House shot: (420k) The house test shot is one of the toughest tests of camera resolution in our arsenal. The C20 produces very good detail here, with virtually no JPEG compression artifacts at the highest resolution setting. Color is good, but the camera's tendency to lose detail in highlights shows in the slightly blown-out detail in the mulch around the flower bed, and in the bright white on the front of the house. The slightly heavy-handed sharpening algorithm shows as a "clumpiness" in the background vegetation and minor "halos" around boundaries between bright and dark regions. For most users, this level of sharpening will be welcome, as it will enhance apparent detail in images printed at sizes up to about 5x7 inches on common inkjet pictures. For those interested in how the camera performs with other image-quality settings, here are shots taken in "fine" (175k) and "basic" (88K) modes.  
 
Far-Field shot: (421k) This is a newer test shot, so you won't find equivalent images from every camera for it. It is taken at infinity, to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this shot cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot above, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles, and windows, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
The C20 performed very well in this test, producing a sharp, beautifully-exposed image. We saw little of the tendency to lose highlight detail that we found in the studio, although the sunlight was rather hazy on the day we shot this image, making the highlight contrast a bit less extreme. (Also, for whatever reason, the camera chose a lower overall exposure for this outdoor shot than for the indoor studio test, which contributed to more detail in the highlights.) Here are two more versions of this shot, captured in "fine" (172k) and "basic" (86k) modes.
 
"Musicians" poster: (429k) In this shot, the C20 again showed slightly excessive contrast, losing some detail in the blond model's face and clothing. Color balance is excellent though, and saturation is just about right. Detail is very good, although the sharpening algorithm coarsens the finest elements slightly. Here are two more versions of this shot, captured in "fine" (186k) and "basic" (88k) modes.  
Macro shot: (414k) One of the nice features of the C20 is that you don't need to do anything special (other than making sure that the autofocus (AF indicator) is turned on: Just move in to the closest-focusing distance of 9.5 inches and shoot. The somewhat wide angle (39mm equivalent focal length) lens contributes to a less-than-microscopic level of macro performance though, with a fairly large minimum capture area of 6.7 x 8.8 inches (22.4 x 16.9 cm). Although we didn't use it for this shot, the C20's flash works fairly well down to the minimum focusing distance: It throttles-back its output fairly well, but will blow-out very light-colored subjects. (We found you could use flash exposure on darker subjects at the closest focusing distance with complete impunity though.) Here is another version of this shot, captured in "basic" (87k) mode.  
"Davebox" test target: (378k) This shot shows excellent color and a good tonal range, surprisingly preserving the highlight details quite well, although possibly at the expense of the lower end of shadow detail. We were a little puzzled by this shot, in that the C20 generally tends to push the contrast and brightness a bit, aiming for brighter midtones, at the expense of the highlights. Most cameras tend to over-compensate slightly for the dark background on this shot, and as a result lose the subtle pastels in the "Q60" color target at bottom left-center. Overall though, this is a very good performance on this subject. Here are two more versions of this shot, captured in "fine" (172k) and "basic" (88k) modes. (Added note, 10/24/98: We missed it entirely, but reader Joe Jordan pointed out that the reds from the C20 are rather dark and a bit muddy. Check the red swatch in the Davebox: You'll also notice this in the red flower of the outdoor portrait shot. - Thanks, Joe!)  
"WG-18" resolution target: (393k) (Technoids only). The C20's resolution is quite good, and quite symmetric in vertical and horizontal directions. Visual resolution is about 600 line pairs/picture height in both vertical and horizontal directions, although there's less aliasing apparent in the vertical direction than the horizontal as that limit is approached. Colored artifacts are very well controlled, practically non-existent in the high-frequency detail. A very respectable performance. Here are two more versions of this shot, captured in "fine" (173k) and "basic" (91k) modes.  
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: Much of our test shooting for the Imaging Resource digital camera reviews involves very precise framing of the subject matter. We're thus overjoyed whenever we encounter a camera with an accurate viewfinder! The optical (162k) viewfinder on the PhotoSmart C20 is about average in this respect, showing 87% of the area captured by the CCD, with the viewed area offset slightly to the top of the CCD's field of view, and very slightly to the left as well. The real treat came in the deadly-accurate performance of the LCD (154k) when running in "viewfinder" mode. It just doesn't get any more accurate than this! Within the limits of our measurement accuracy (less than 1%), the LCD viewfinder displays exactly what the CCD is seeing! Flash uniformity was about average, with a "hot" center, and modest falloff in the edges/corners. This test is also useful for revealing lens distortions, of which the C20 has essentially none: Straight lines at the edges of the field of view remain almost perfectly straight.  

 

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