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Digital Cameras - Nikon Coolpix 4800 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to an index page for the test shots. The data there includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

"Sunlit" Portrait:

Good overall color and saturation, with high resolution and strong detail. Excessive contrast dictated a somewhat dark exposure though.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Coolpix 4800 performed well.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produced slightly dark midtones, in order to hold onto the highlights. - The version shot at +1.0 EV of compensation just lost too much highlight detail for my tastes, despite my use of the Coolpix 5400's low contrast option. Though slightly greenish, I settled on the camera's Auto white balance setting for the main series. The Daylight setting produced similar, slightly more yellow results, and the Manual setting was a bit too warm.

Skin tones look very good, as do the blue flowers in the bouquet. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, often reproducing them darker with purple tints. However, the Coolpix 4800 renders them almost perfectly.) Color and saturation are good throughout the rest of the frame as well. Resolution is high, with strong detail both in Marti's features and in the flower bouquet. Shadow detail is moderately high, though image noise is moderate.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files CP48OUTBAP0.HTM through CP48OUTBAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

Contrast Series:
The Coolpix 4800's contrast adjustment option does a good job of adjusting the camera's contrast, affecting highlight and shadow values about equally. My only complaint is that I wish all the settings were shifted one notch lower - That is, that the High setting produced contrast similar to what the Normal setting currently does, Normal like Low, and Low a contrast level lower still.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above in terms of color and exposure, though highlight detail is stronger and less blown-out. Midtones are fairly bright, with good detail. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. The Coolpix 4800's 8.3x zoom lens helps prevent any geometric distortion of Marti's features, which is an important consideration for frame-filling portraits like this. (Wide-angle lenses greatly distort facial features, producing a "chipmunk" look, with exaggerated nose and an overly round look to the face.) Detail and resolution are even higher in this close-up shot, with excellent definition in Marti's face and hair.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files CP48OUTBFACAP0.HTM through CP48OUTBFACAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+0.7 EV
Slow-Sync Flash
+0.7 EV

Low intensity at the default exposure, but brighter results with an EV boost. Pretty good color, though more pleasing results with the Slow-Sync mode.

The Coolpix 4800's built-in flash was somewhat dim at the default exposure setting, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get a bright shot. The somewhat bright exposure washes out color slightly, but overall lighting on the subject is much better. Despite the bright exposure, color is quite accurate, though Marti's face is just slightly cool-hued from the flash. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced more pleasing results, with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment. Though the longer exposure allows more of the incandescent lighting in to increase the orange cast, overall color appears slightly more natural and the exposure is more even.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV in the normal flash mode, see files CP48INFP0.HTM through CP48INFP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync mode, see files CP48INFSP0.HTM through CP48INFSP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slightly reddish color cast with the Auto setting, but good overall color and exposure. (Much better than average.)

This shot is always 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. I chose the Coolpix 4800's Auto white balance setting for the main series, despite a slight reddish cast. I found the skin tones and overall color more pleasing than the warm, yellow cast of the Incandescent setting and the cooler tone of the Manual setting. (Although I could see some people preferring the results with the Manual setting.) The blue flowers in the bouquet are dark and purplish, but that's to be expected under this difficult light source. The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, about average for this shot. The highlights on Marti's shirt are just a little hot, but the exposure is pretty good elsewhere. Noise is a little high, which limits fine detail somewhat, but the overall result is well within the acceptable range.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files CP48INAP0.HTM through CP48INAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
The Coolpix 4800's image noise levels are generally pretty good, particularly at lower ISO settings. At ISO 50, noise is present but almost invisible. At ISO 100, it's visible but not obtrusive, increasing to very visible but still acceptable (to me, anyway) levels at ISO 200. At ISO 400 though, the noise really dominates, affecting both color balance and detail rendition. (I wouldn't consider the Coolpix 4800 usable under incandescent lighting at ISO 400.)

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

High resolution and strong detail, and accurate color with the Manual white balance setting.

The Coolpix 4800's Manual white balance setting produced the best overall color here, with the most accurate white value on the house trim. The Auto setting also produced good results, though with just a hint more red, and the Daylight setting resulted in a stronger yellow cast. Detail and resolution are high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs, shrubbery, and brick pattern. Details are reasonably sharp from corner to corner, with pretty good definition. Image noise is a little high in the roof shingles, although some of what looks like noise is undoubtedly the texture of the shingles themselves..



 

Far-Field Test

Good resolution and detail, fair dynamic range.

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.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the Coolpix 4800 did a good job with it, when compared with the results obtained with other four-megapixel cameras I've tested. Detail in the tree limbs over the roof and foliage in front of the house is good, and the in-camera sharpening does a good job of increasing apparent sharpness without coarsening fine detail or introducing artifacts. As noted elsewhere here, the Coolpix 4800's lens appears to be of unusually high quality, particularly for a long-ratio zoom, and the quality shows again here, in the very good sharpness that it manages to maintain in the corners of the frame.

Dynamic range seems a little limited here, as the 4800 loses most of the detail in the strong highlight of the bay window on the front of the house, while at the same time losing some detail to image noise in the deep shadows around the front door. - Probably about an average performance in this regard.

Color looks very good, with accurate hues and saturation, neither over- nor under-saturated. (To my eye, at least.) The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and sharpness series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,288 x 1,712
CP48FAR2288F
CP48FAR2288N
1,600 x 1,200
CP48FAR1600
-
1,024 x 768
CP48FAR1024
-
640 x 480
CP48FAR0640
-


ISO Series:
As above, the Coolpix 4800's image noise levels are pretty good, particularly at ISO 50 and 100. Noise increases to a level that's only marginally acceptable at ISO 200, and becomes really objectionable at ISO 400. (With this subject though, the camera couldn't manage a combination of shutter speed and aperture that could handle the bright lighting at ISO 400, so the ISO 400 shot here is badly overexposed.)

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:
The Coolpix 4800's in-camera sharpening is for the most part pretty conservative. Even with the "High" setting, the effect is still pretty subtle, with little evidence of over-sharpening. The big news though, is that when you turn sharpening off entirely, and then apply very strong/tight unsharp masking in Photoshop (350-400%, 0.3 pixel radius), an amazing amount of fine detail is revealed.

Sharpness Series
Off
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
In my "Sunlit Portrait" shot above, the Coolpix 4800's contrast adjustment seemed to affect both highlight and shadow areas more or less equally. Here though, it seems to be affecting the highlights almost exclusively, the low or high contrast settings cutting or boosting exposure in the highlights, with little apparent effect on the shadow areas.

Contrast Series
Less Contrast
Normal
More Contrast



 

Lens Zoom Range

Excellent 8.3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (8.3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The DSC-F717's lens is equivalent to a 36-300mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a significant telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
5x Telephoto
4x Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Pretty good color with the Manual white balance setting, but color casts with the other options. High resolution with strong detail.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. Both the Coolpix 4800's Auto and Daylight white balance settings responded to the challenge with warm color balances, though the Auto setting had the strongest of the two. Though the Manual setting is just slightly cool with magenta tints, overall color looks closest to the original poster. The blue robe is nearly right, though slightly purplish in the shadows. Resolution is very high, and detail is strong in the embroidery of the bird wings on the blue robe, as well as in other areas of fine detail such as the strings of the instruments and beaded necklaces.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro Shot with Flash

A very tiny macro area with excellent detail, though the flash has trouble.

Exceptional macro performance has almost become a Nikon trademark, so it's no surprise that the Coolpix 4800 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 1.01 x 0.76 inches (26 x 19 millimeters). Resolution is very high, and detail is excellent in the dollar bill. Details are fairly sharp, though soften quite a bit toward the corners of the frame. (Softness in the corners of the images is unfortunately an almost universal weakness of digicam macro modes.) The position of the Coolpix 4800's flash makes it difficult to light the subject evenly at the shortest shooting distances, so plan on using external illumination for your closest shots.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good exposure and color balance. Good hue accuracy, but high saturation.

The Coolpix 4800's Manual white balance setting did a great job here, and produced the most accurate white value and overall color. The Auto setting also resulted in good color, though just slightly warm, while the Daylight setting had a stronger yellow cast. The camera's exposure system handled this target fairly well, and the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target are clear and distinct. The large color blocks are accurate as to hue (what color it is), but the saturation (how strong the color is) is quite high, especially for blues and some greens. While color this saturated isn't really natural, many consumers prefer it to more accurate, less vibrant colors. - You'll have to make up your own mind how well you like this "look". (Which is exactly why we spend so much time shooting comparison pictures for this site.) Detail is moderate in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with a moderate amount of noise, and strong in the highlight area of the white gauze. Overall, the Coolpix 4800's image noise is a little on the high side when compared to other 4-megapixel cameras on the market. - Not drastically so, but enough to be worth mentioning.


Now, for the REAL technoids, Imatest!

I've recently begun using Norman Koren's excellent "Imatest" analysis program for quantitative, thoroughly objective analysis of digicam test images. For those interested, I've prepared a page summarizing what Imatest showed me about the Coolpix 4800's images.

The results in the tests below mirror those seen above in other test shots. The test series are repeated here without further comment, for the benefit of our more quantitatively-oriented readers.

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Effects Series:

Color Effects Series
Vivid Color
Black and White
Sepia
Cyanotype



 

Low-Light Tests

About average low-light performance, with bright enough exposures for average city street lighting at night. Autofocus works to a light level about half as bright as city street lighting.

The Coolpix 4800 produced bright, usable images only down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, and those only at the 400 ISO setting. At ISO 200, images were bright as low as 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux), and at ISOs 50 and 100, images were bright only to one foot-candle (11 lux). (Average city street lighting at night is about equivalent to one foot-candle, so the 4800 should handle most city night scenes at ISO 100 and above just fine.) With the camera's Night Landscape mode, images were bright as low as 1/4 foot-candle, as the camera boosts the ISO to 300 and allows exposure times as long as 2 seconds in this mode. Color was pretty good, though a hint warm with the Auto white balance setting. Image noise was moderately low to moderate at the lower ISO settings, but increased to a higher level at ISO 400. The Coolpix 4800's autofocus system worked down to light levels a bit below 1/2 foot candle, so the camera is capable of capturing photos at light levels slightly darker than those that it can focus effectively in. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
50
Click to see CP48LL0503.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL0504.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL0505.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL0506.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL0507.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
ISO
100
Click to see CP48LL1003.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL1004.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL1005.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL1006.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL1007.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
ISO
200
Click to see CP48LL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL2004.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL2005.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL2006.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL2007.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
ISO
400
Click to see CP48LL4003.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL4004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL4005.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL4006.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LL4007.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Night
Landscape
Mode
(ISO=300)
Click to see CP48LLNL03.JPG
1/3 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LLNL04.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LLNL05.JPG
1.32 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LLNL06.JPG
2 sec
f2.7
Click to see CP48LLNL07.JPG
2 sec
f2.7



 

Flash Range Test

A pretty powerful flash, only a little falloff at the 14 foot limit of this test.

In my testing, the Coolpix 4800's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without only a slight decrease in intensity. Flash exposure was pretty good from the start, and remained fairly consistent. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see CP48FL08.JPG
1/120 sec
f3.6
ISO 50
Click to see CP48FL09.JPG
1/120 sec
f3.7
ISO 50
Click to see CP48FL10.JPG
1/120 sec
f3.7
ISO 50
Click to see CP48FL11.JPG
1/253 sec
f3.8
ISO 50
Click to see CP48FL12.JPG
1/253 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see CP48FL13.JPG
1/253 sec
f4.0
ISO 50
Click to see CP48FL14.JPG
1/253 sec
f4.1
ISO 50



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,150-1,200 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion, higher than average pincushion though. Low chromatic aberration.

The Coolpix 4800 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,200 lines horizontally, 1,150 vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines. The "MTF 50" results from Imatest show average resolution of 1227 LW/PH uncorrected, or 1219 LW/PH with standard sharpening of radius 1 applied.

Optical distortion on the Coolpix 4800 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as I measured approximately 0.6 percent pincushion distortion. (Most digicams seem to have about 0.8 percent barrel distortion at wide angle. The 0.6 percent pincushion at telephoto is higher than average, but not unusual for cameras with long-ratio zoom lenses.) Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about two or three pixels of very faint coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Apart from the somewhat high pincushion distortion at telephoto, the Coolpix 4800's lens appears to be of very high quality.

Resolution Series, 50mm
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,288 x 1,712
CP48RES2288F
CP48RES2288N
1,600 x 1,200
CP48RES1600
-
1,024 x 768
CP48RES1024
-
640 x 480
CP48RES0640
-


Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,288 x 1,712
(Fine, Wide)
CP48RESSHW
2,288 x 1,712
(Fine, Tele)
CP48REST


Sharpness Series

Sharpness Series
No Sharpening
Soft
Normal
Sharp



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder.

The Coolpix 4800's electronic "optical" viewfinder (EVF) is very accurate, showing 99+ percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor is also very accurate, since it shows the same view, just on a larger screen. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 4800's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with just a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform, though quite dim.




4800 Review
4800 Test Images
4800 Specifications
4800 "Picky Details"
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