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Digital Cameras - Nikon CoolPix 800 Test Images

("FIrst Look" images posted 9/27/99)
(Full suite of pictures posted 10/25/99)

Given the terribly short time before we "went to press" with the initial First Look review, we decided to include a link to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots, for those who want to dig deeper than the few links we've had time to include below. (Actually, we like all the information in the Thumber page so much that we'll likely be making this a standard feature from here on out.) The filenames we use are cryptic, but a little study will doubtless reveal the naming protocol we use, to those with the interest to dig deeper...)

Also, much of our commentary here is made relative to the Coolpix 950, since we can absolutely anticipate the flood of questions in the vein of "How does it compare to the 950?" When we post the final review, we'll broaden our basis of comparison a reference the rest of the 2 megapixel digicam field, but for now, we felt that this approach would both fit the general trend of our readers' interests, as well as the limited time we had available for the analysis.

 

Outdoor Portrait: (655k) We shot this test using both Automatic white balance (655k) and the Preset White balance (650k) settings. Overall, we felt the auto white balance gave the more accurate rendition of the two, but found the warmer cast of the preset function to be rather appealing on an emotional level. Both modes looked best with a full f-stop of positive exposure compensation. Colors were accurate and well-saturated, but the blues in the flowers and the model's pants proved difficult as always, going rather purple in the preset white version. Resolution and sharpness are great, but there's a slight "halo" around the bright red of the flowers. The tables below show results for both auto and preset white balance options, with exposure compensation ranging from 0 to +1.3 EV

Auto White Balance:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/784
Aperture: F9.2
ISO Speed: 100
(759k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/632
Aperture: F9.2
ISO Speed: 100
(774k)
+0.7 EV
Shutter: 1/477
Aperture: F9.2
ISO Speed: 100
(648k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/368
Aperture: F9.2
ISO Speed: 100
(655k)
+1.3 EV
Shutter: 1/291
Aperture: F9.2
ISO Speed: 100
(657k)


Preset White Balance:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/726
Aperture: F9.3
ISO Speed: 100
(765k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/632
Aperture: F9.3
ISO Speed: 100
(777k)
+0.7 EV
Shutter: 1/477
Aperture: F9.3
ISO Speed: 100
(644k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/383
Aperture: F9.3
ISO Speed: 100
(650k)
+1.3 EV
Shutter: 1/331
Aperture: F9.3
ISO Speed: 100
(650k)


 
Closer Portrait: (853k) As usual, this shot requires less exposure compensation than the test above, because the model's face fills more of the frame. We chose our main shot (853k) as the one with only +0.3 EV of exposure compensation. Exceptional color and tone, phenomenal detail, but some blue-channel noise in the shadows. Also, an oddly abrupt jump in brightness as we went from +0.6ev to +1.0. As before, we preferred the auto white balance to the results obtained with the preset white balance option. The tables below show the results of a range of exposure compensations, taken with both auto and preset white balance settings.

Auto White Balance:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/253
Aperture: F11.2
ISO Speed: 100
(838k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/224
Aperture: F11.2
ISO Speed: 100
(853k)
+0.7 EV
Shutter: 1/170
Aperture: F11.2
ISO Speed: 100
(843k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/182
Aperture: F8.0
ISO Speed: 100
(755k)


Preset White Balance:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/291
Aperture: F11.2
ISO Speed: 100
(829k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/235
Aperture: F11.2
ISO Speed: 100
(828k)
+0.7 EV
Shutter: 1/170
Aperture: F11.2
ISO Speed: 100
(834k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/170
Aperture: F8.0
ISO Speed: 100
(818k)


 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (901k) We were a little torn as to which shot to choose for our main picture (901k) here. The shot we chose was taken at +0.6EV exposure compensation (yes, exposure comp controls flash exposure on the CP800 as well!). This produced good color balance, but swamped the room lights. We obtained a very interesting result (878k) with the "slow sync" option enabled, and +0.3 EV of exposure adjustment. A great balance between room and flash lighting, although the extreme difference between the color temperature of the two light sources is evident in the very blue shadows on the model's shirt sleeve, under the bunch of flowers. The table below shows the effect of various exposure compensation adjustments, in both normal and "slow shutter" modes.

Normal flash mode:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/31
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(905k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/31
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(918k)
+0.7 EV
Shutter: 1/60
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(901k)


Slow shutter mode:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/18
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(866k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/16
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(877k)


 
Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (925k) This shot is a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. Still, the Coolpix 800's white balance system did quite well with it, as shown in these shots taken with the automatic (937k) and incandescent (918k) white balance settings, both at +1.0 EV exposure compensation. The real winner though, was the "preset white" option, which completely neutralized the harsh yellow of the light, producing this beautiful shot (925k) . (One of the best handlings of this tough shot we've seen to date, from any digicam!) The one fault we can find is a subtly mottled skin tone, caused by blue-channel noise. The table below shows a full range of exposure-compensation adjustments, all taken in the preset white balance mode.

Preset White Balance:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/17
Aperture: F3.9
ISO Speed: 100
(863k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/14
Aperture: F3.9
ISO Speed: 100
(884k)
+0.7 EV
Shutter: 1/11
Aperture: F3.9
ISO Speed: 100
(916k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F3.9
ISO Speed: 100
(925k)
+1.3 EV
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F3.9
ISO Speed: 100
(931k)


 
House shot: (727k) Always a tough test of camera resolution, the Coolpix 800 performed here (727k) almost identically to the Coolpix 950. Resolution, detail, and color are all very good. The table below contains links to copies of this image shot in all resolution/compression modes, all with the auto white balance setting.

Resolution/Quality Series:
Full Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/117
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(727k)
Full Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/120
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(456k)
Full Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/115
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(225k)
VGA/Fine
Shutter: 1/117
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(130k)
VGA/Normal
Shutter: 1/117
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(73k)
VGA/Basic
Shutter: 1/117
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(35k)


We also shot VGA-resolution versions of this image, with each of the four "daylight" options for white balance. The results are in the table below:

White Balance Variations:
Auto
Shutter: 1/117
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(130k)
Sunny
Shutter: 1/118
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(131k)
Cloudy
Shutter: 1/114
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(129k)
Preset
Shutter: 1/111
Aperture: F4.3
ISO Speed: 100
(128k)


We also include for your perusal an uncompressed TIFF-formatted image. Click here (5,767k!) to download. (NOTE that this link is NOT an HTML page, or even a JPEG file, but rather a raw TIFF image: Your browser won't know what to do with it, but should give you the option to just save the file to disk. Note too, that this is a huge, 5.8 megabyte file!)
 
 
 
Far-Field Test: (673k) This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, 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 window detail, 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. 
Another tough resolution test. Very sharp image! (673k) The table below shows all variations of image size and quality:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Full Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 399
Aperture: F9.7
ISO Speed: 100
(673k)
Full Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 399
Aperture: F9.7
ISO Speed: 100
(428k)
Full Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 383
Aperture: F9.7
ISO Speed: 100
(231k)
VGA/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 399
Aperture: F9.7
ISO Speed: 100
(137k)
VGA/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 399
Aperture: F9.7
ISO Speed: 100
(72k)
VGA/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 399
Aperture: F9.7
ISO Speed: 100
(40k)


Here's an uncompressed TIFF-formatted version of this image.. Click here (5,767k!) to download. (NOTE that this link is NOT an HTML page, or even a JPEG file, but rather a raw TIFF image: Your browser won't know what to do with it, but should give you the option to just save the file to disk. Note too, that this is a huge, 5.8 megabyte file!)

 
Lens Zoom Range (new): We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with respectively, the lens at full wide-angle, the lens at full telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with "digital telephoto" enabled. (All shots taken in "SQ" mode to ease download times.)

Wide
(671k)
Tele
(662k)
Digital Tele 1.25x
(652k)
Digital Tele 1.6x
(793k)
Digital Tele 2.0x
(715k)
Digital Tele 2.5x
(626k)



Musicians Poster: (669k) Resolution and sharpness essentially identical to the Coolpix 950. The "preset white" white balance setting again came through here with (dare we say?) flying colors! Beautiful color balance, among the best we've seen for this shot. The table below shows all variations of image size and quality.

Resolution/Quality Series:
Full Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(670k)
Full Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(434k)
Full Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(203k)
VGA/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(139k)
VGA/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(69k)
VGA/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(40k)


We also shot VGA-resolution versions of this image, with each of the four "daylight" options for white balance. The results are in the table below:

White Balance Variations:
Auto
Shutter: 1/85
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(130k)
Sunny
Shutter: 1/86
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(131k)
Cloudy
Shutter: 1/86
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(129k)
Preset
Shutter: 1/87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(128k)


We also include for your perusal an uncompressed TIFF-formatted image. Click here (5,767k!) to download. (NOTE that this link is NOT an HTML page, or even a JPEG file, but rather a raw TIFF image: Your browser won't know what to do with it, but should give you the option to just save the file to disk. Note too, that this is a huge, 5.8 megabyte file!)
 
Macro Shot: (657k) While not in the "microscopic" category of the Coolpix 950, the Coolpix 800 performed very, very well in the macro category, with a minimum area of only 1.5 x 2.0 inches (39 x 52 mm). Again, great detail, sharpness, and color. The 800's flash didn't throttle-down too well at such a close approach though, producing this (659k) rather washed-out image.

 
"Davebox" Test Target: (854k) In this test, the automatic white balance actually won out over the "preset white" option, if only by a hair. Exceptionally good color, to our eyes just a shade better than that of the Coolpix 950. Excellent handling of the difficult red/magenta separation. Bright yellows are still a bit dull however. The table below shows all variations of image size and quality.

Resolution/Quality Series:
Full Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 54
Aperture: F6.9
ISO Speed: 100
(854k)
Full Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 55
Aperture: F6.9
ISO Speed: 100
(408k)
Full Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 54
Aperture: F6.9
ISO Speed: 100
(227k)
VGA/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 54
Aperture: F6.9
ISO Speed: 100
(115k)
VGA/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 54
Aperture: F6.9
ISO Speed: 100
(57k)
VGA/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 54
Aperture: F6.9
ISO Speed: 100
(37k)


We also shot VGA-resolution versions of this image, with each of the four "daylight" options for white balance. The results are in the table below:

White Balance Variations:
Auto
Shutter: 1/85
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(130k)
Sunny
Shutter: 1/86
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(131k)
Cloudy
Shutter: 1/86
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(129k)
Preset
Shutter: 1/87
Aperture: F4.1
ISO Speed: 100
(128k)


We also include for your perusal an uncompressed TIFF-formatted image. Click here (5,767k!) to download. (NOTE that this link is NOT an HTML page, or even a JPEG file, but rather a raw TIFF image: Your browser won't know what to do with it, but should give you the option to just save the file to disk. Note too, that this is a huge, 5.8 megabyte file!)
 
 
Low-Light Tests:
Like its big brother the Coolpix 950, the Coolpix 800 does very well in low light. In fact, we felt it did a somewhat better job than the earlier Nikon camera, preserving a bit more color at very low light levels. We obtained very usable images down to an exposure level of EV 6 in our prior parlance (more properly, 0.5 foot-candles, or 5.5 lux), and managed to go two full stops below that level, to an absolute limit of 0.125 foot-candles, or 1.4 lux, although the image noise was really unacceptable at anything below the 0.5 foot-candle level. (We generally found we got our best results though, with the exposure compensation boosted by 1EV.)

The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

Range/Illumination:
10 EV
8 fc
(843k)
9 EV
4 fc
(782k)
8 EV
2 fc
(792k)
7 EV
1 fc
(857k)
6 EV
0.5 fc
(832k)
5 EV
0.25 fc
(790k)
4 EV
0.125 fc
(794k)
 


"Real" shooting conditions: Scientific laboratory measurements are fine, but how does the camera do in "real life"? Quite well! Here is a series of shots taken at the local mall/movie complex. Illumination is about 1 foot-candle (11 lux), from a mix of high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and incandescent lighting. We shot one picture at each of the preset ISO values, the only difference being the resulting shutter speed and the image noise. All shots came out *far* better than we'd have expected from an under-$500 digicam!

ISO 100
(This shot has been boosted +0.7EV )
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(759K)
ISO 200
Shutter: 1/4
Aperture: F2.8
(875K)
ISO 400
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F2.8
(703K)


 

 

Flash Range Test (New): (This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available.)
No official spec from Nikon to go by, but it looks pretty good at ~9 feet with the default ISO setting of 100, looks good to beyond 15 feet with the ISO bumped up to 400. A strange artifact appeared in the upper right-hand corner of the images we shot for this test, which can be seen on the Thumber page, as files C8FL108 through C8FL415. (100 series is ISO 100, 400 series shot at ISO 400.) No idea at this point what it could have been. (No, it wasn't our finger!) Probably some flare source in the studio, as we didn't see it in other shots, but a bit disturbing nonetheless. The table below contains shots taken at a range of distances, from 8 to 15 feet, most at the default ISO setting of 100. The last shot (15 feet) is also duplicated with the ISO set up to 400.

Flash Range/Distance: 
8 ft
(n/a)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/ 41
Aperture: F5.2
(414k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/ 37
Aperture: F5.2
(421k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/ 31
Aperture: F5.2
(382k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/ 31
Aperture: F5.2
(363k)
13 ft
Shutter: 1/ 31
Aperture: F5.2
(336k)
14 ft
Shutter: 1/ 31
Aperture: F5.2
(317k)
15 ft
Shutter: 1/ 31
Aperture: F5.2
(319k)
15 ft, ISO400
Shutter: 1/ 78
Aperture: F5.2
(823k)
 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test: (813k) Very, very similar to the results we obtained with the 950, although to our eye, the 950's lens is slightly sharper. (This slight difference in sharpness is visible in most of the shots, when you do a direct side-by-side comparison of pictures from the 800 and 950 together. It's pretty subtle though, as we didn't really notice it ourselves until we were checking the Comparometer links and saw the two beside each other, rather than in separate windows in Photoshop(tm)) Barrel distortion is also just about the same between the two cameras (preliminary measurement shows it to be 1.2% in wide-angle mode), and chromatic aberration is just a tad higher. (Still very low, but the 950 was a shade better in this respect as well.) Visual resolution approaches 800 lines per picture height horizontally and 650-700 vertically. Horizontal resolution is about as good as we've seen, while vertical is fairly typical of 2.1 megapixel digicams. The tables below show the usual array of images shot in various combinations of size, quality, and sharpness setting.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle:
Full Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F5.8
ISO Speed: 100
(813k)
Full Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/96
Aperture: F5.8
ISO Speed: 100
(412k)
Full Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F5.8
ISO Speed: 100
(220k)
VGA/Fine
Shutter: 1/189
Aperture: F5.8
ISO Speed: 100
(119k)
VGA/Normal
Shutter: 1/186
Aperture: F5.8
ISO Speed: 100
(60k)
VGA/Basic
Shutter: 1/186
Aperture: F5.8
ISO Speed: 100
(40k)


We also include for your perusal an uncompressed TIFF-formatted image. Click here (5,767k!) to download. (NOTE that this link is NOT an HTML page, or even a JPEG file, but rather a raw TIFF image: Your browser won't know what to do with it, but should give you the option to just save the file to disk. Note too, that this is a huge, 5.8 megabyte file!)

Resolution Series, Telephoto:
Full Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(795k)
Full Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(405k)
Full Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(219k)
VGA/Fine
Shutter: 1/ 52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(116k)
VGA/Normal
Shutter: 1/ 52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(60k)
VGA/Basic
Shutter: 1/ 52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(42k)


We also include for your perusal an uncompressed TIFF-formatted image. Click here (5,767k!) to download. (NOTE that this link is NOT an HTML page, or even a JPEG file, but rather a raw TIFF image: Your browser won't know what to do with it, but should give you the option to just save the file to disk. Note too, that this is a huge, 5.8 megabyte file!)

The Coolpix 800's "digital telephoto" offers a a total of 4 magnification ratios, in which the central portion of the image from the CCD is cropped and then expanded to fill the currently-selected image size. In the Wide/Tele range test above, we elected to save the images at the VGA resolution. For the resolution test though, we shot with the camera set to its normal (1600x1200) file size, with the (rather blurry) results you see in the table below:

Resolution Series, Digital Telephoto:
1.25x
Shutter: 1/52
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(680k)
1.6x
Shutter: 1/120
Aperture: F5.2
ISO Speed: 100
(721k)
2.0x
Shutter: 1/117
Aperture: F5.2
ISO Speed: 100
(670k)
2.5x
Shutter: 1/54
Aperture: F8
ISO Speed: 100
(560k)


 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity:
Overall, the optical viewfinder on the Coolpix 800 is a little "loose", while the LCD viewfinder approaches 100% accuracy. At the wide-angle end of the lens' range, the optical viewfinder (230k) shows about 80.5% of the final view, while the LCD viewfinder (234k) shows about 98%. At the telephoto end of the lens' range, the optical viewfinder (235k) shows 88% of the final view, while the LCD viewfinder (232k) shows 99%. Accuracy in digital telephoto mode varies somewhat, perhaps due to our difficulty to precisely resolve the framing lines on our target in digital tele mode. The average digital tele viewfinder accuracy appeared to be about 96%.

Flash uniformity is better than most cameras, with only modest light falloff in the corners at the wide-angle end of the zoom range.

We've recently begun testing cameras for optical distortions, such as barrel/pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration. The Coolpix 800 showed moderately severe barrel distortion at the wide angle end, measuring 1.2% deviation across the width of the frame, dropping to only 0.4% pincushion in telephoto mode. This is slightly better at wide angle than the '950, although the 950 moves to slight pincushion distortion at the telephoto end, suggesting that there's a midpoint where there is no geometric distortion at all. The '800 always shows some barrel distortion, in our tests.)

Chromatic aberration was very low, with only the slightest fringe of color on test elements at the extreme corners of the resolution target. (We estimated chromatic aberration at just under 1 pixel at the frame edges, numerically about 0.06%.).
 

 

C-800 Review
C-800 Test Images
C-800 Specifications
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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