|We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data 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 Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
Portrait: (1001 k)
Very good color, good tone (but use the "Low Contrast" option)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the D230 handled the challenge well. We shot with the Auto (1148 k) and Daylight (1110 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting as the most accurate. The Auto setting had a slight magenta cast. The shot at right has a +0.5 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightens the midtones without losing too much highlight detail (though some detail is lost in the brighter part of the shirt). It was also shot with the Low Contrast setting, which brought out more midtone detail. The same shot with the Normal Contrast (1006 k) setting produced much darker midtones. Color is good, and the difficult blue flowers have only faint purple tints at the edges (these blues are often difficult for digicams to reproduce correctly). Resolution is moderately high, though details are slightly soft and there are some artifacts along the curved edges of the flowers.
To see the results of a range of exposure settings, check the thumbnail index page. Normal contrast images are D23OUTDP0 through D23OUTDP3, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.5EV in steps of 0.5 EV. Low contrast images are D23OUTLOCONP0 through D23OUTLOCONP3, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.5EV in steps of 0.5 EV.
|Closer Portrait: (1311 k)
Results in this close-up shot are similar to the shot above, though the D230's wide-angle lens distorted the model's features at this close range. (Longer focal lengths are key to reducing distortion in close-up shots like this one.) Resolution is higher in this shot, with more fine detail visible in the model's face and hair. Overall color looks about right. Detail is good in the shadow areas, with a moderate noise level. Our main shot was taken without any exposure compensation, and again using the Low Contrast setting.
To see the results of a range of exposure settings, check the thumbnail index page. Normal contrast images are D23FACLOCONP0 through D23FACLOCONP2, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.0EV in steps of 0.5 EV.
|Indoor Portrait, Flash: (640 k)
Very good color, but more flash calls for daylight white balance setting.
The D230's built-in flash illuminated the subject nicely, with good intensity and distribution. We first shot with the flash in its normal operating mode, and achieved the best results without any exposure adjustment (716 k). As we increased the exposure compensation, the color balance became cooler and bluish. We next shot with the Slow Sync (695 k) flash mode, and captured the best image with a +0.5 EV exposure adjustment. We chose this for our main shot, as the color and lighting looked best, and there wasn't a strong color cast. Finally, we switched to the Daylight white balance (640 k) mode, and again shot with the flash in its normal setting. We chose a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment, which produced nearly accurate results. The only drawback was a slight bluish cast on the model's face from the flash, and slightly washed out color. We selected the shot taken with the daylight white balance setting as our main choice for this category though, feeling it looked the most like a flash exposure...
You can again see the results of a range of exposure settings for these shots by checking the thumbnail index page. Normal flash mode images are D23INFP0 through D23INFP3, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.5EV in steps of 0.5 EV. Slow sync flash mode images are D23INFSP0 through D23INFSP2, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.0EV in steps of 0.5 EV. Flash shots using daylight white balance are D23INFDAYP0 through D23INFDAYP2, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.0EV in steps of 0.5 EV.
|Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (618 k)
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, and the D230's white balance system produced excellent results. We shot with the Auto (1292 k) and Incandescent (618 k) settings, choosing the Incandescent setting for our main series. The Auto setting resulted in a very warm image, but the Incandescent setting resulted in an acceptable color cast, very reminiscent of the lighting in the room when the photo was taken. For our main shot, we chose an exposure adjustment of +0.5 EV, which brightened the image without losing highlight detail. Color looks good despite the pink cast, with a good blue on the flowers of the bouquet (though with a hint of purple, a common problem among digicams).
To see the results of a range of exposure settings, check the thumbnail index page. Normal contrast images are D23INTP0 through D23INTP3, with exposures ranging from 0 to +1.5EV in steps of 0.5 EV.
|House Shot: (971 k)
Good color & tone, but a bit soft.
We chose the Auto (971 k) white balance setting for our main selection, because of its more accurate color balance. The Daylight (970 k) setting resulted in a warmer image, with a greenish cast. Resolution is moderate, with a nice level of fine detail visible in the tree limbs above the house and across the house front. Details are slightly soft, particularly those of the shrubbery in front of the house. Overall, a nice performance from an entry-level camera.
|Far-Field Test (1010 k)
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 our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The D230 captured a fair amount of fine detail throughout the frame, though details are slightly soft. The fine foliage details in the front shrubbery and overhead tree limbs are less defined than the more rectilinear details of the house, and almost appear blurred. We also measure a camera's dynamic range in this shot, and noticed that the D230 had a tough time with the bright glare of the sunny bay window. Only the most pronounced details can be seen in the window trim, and the bright white paint causes the entire window to glow. The shadow area under the porch fares only a little better, as the porch light and brick pattern details are only faintly visible.
|Lens Zoom Range
Only a digital zoom, so any magnification means lower resolution.
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 the lens at full wide angle, and with the 1.6x, 2.0x, and 2.5x digital telephoto enabled. (Note that "digital telephoto" can't be compared with a true zoom lens, because the camera is just enlarging the image from the center of the CCD. Thus, more magnification means less resolution, whereas a true zoom lens magnifies the image directly.) The D230's wide-angle lens is equivalent to a 36mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Poster (1195 k)
Color is a little warm, but quite good overall...
For this test, we shot with the Auto (1195 k) and Daylight (1195 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting for our main shot. The Auto setting produced a very warm color balance, and the skin tones were too warm to appear natural. The Daylight setting produced much better skin tones, though the overall color balance is still slightly warm (judging by the greenish background tint). Color looks good, though Oriental model's blue robe shows purple tints in the darker areas (this blue is tough for many digicams to reproduce correctly). Resolution is moderately high, with fairly well defined detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.
Pretty good macro for a fixed focal-length lens, but quite a bit of distortion, and flash doesn't throttle down well.
The D230 performed nicely in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.46 x 2.60 inches (87.98 x 65.99 millimeters). Color, resolution, and detail are all good, though the image has a slight warm cast. Corner softness is evident at all four corners, and we noticed a fair amount of barrel distortion from the wide-angle lens setting. The D230's flash (1220 k) had some trouble with this close shooting range, and overexposed the subject.
Test Target (649 k)
Surprisingly good color for an entry-level camera.
We shot samples of this target using the Auto (649 k) and Daylight (659 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot. (The Daylight setting produced a very warm image.) Exposure looks good, as the Q60 target shows good tonal distribution, as do the vertical grayscales. Color is about right, though the large yellow color block is a tad undersaturated. The shadow area of the briquettes shows good detail, with moderate noise, and the highlights have good detail as well. Following is a contrast adjustment series.
To see the results of a the D-230's contrast adjustment on this shot, check the thumbnail index page. Low, normal, and high contrast images are files D23DBCON1, 2, and 3 respectively.
Very good low light shooting, should do fine for night photography of city street scenes.
Given the D-230's very basic capabilities and lack of manual exposure controls, we confess that we weren't expecting too much from it on the low light test. As it turned out though, the camera did surprisingly well, producing usable images at light levels as low as 0.5 foot-candles (5.5 lux), and bright, clear ones at 1.0 foot-candles (11 lux). Looking at the exposure data we extracted from the D-230's JPEG files with Thumber gives one explanation though: The camera automatically varies its ISO to as high as 400, from its default of 100. The result is a somewhat grainy images in low-light conditions, but very usable ones with good color and focus. Since a typical city night scene corresponds to a light level of about 1 foot-candle, the D-230 should do quite well for typical night photography in urban settings. (Do use a tripod though.) Overall, quite impressive for a low end camera! The table below shows the results of our tests, at light levels ranging from 8 foot-candles down to 1/16 foot-candle.
|Flash Range Test
Flash range of at least 10 feet, usable even further.
In our testing, we found the D230's flash remained effective as far as 14 feet from the test target, with good intensity. Flash power was brightest as far as 10 feet, and intensity decreased slightly with each additional foot of distance. - We'd rate the flash as effective to 10 feet, but coverage is surprisingly good all the way to 14 feet. Below is our complete flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
(WG-18) Resolution Test (1269 k)
Good resolution for an entry-level two megapixel camera.
For an entry-level camera, the D230 did pretty well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 550 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to 800 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 950-1,000 lines.
Optical distortion on the D40 was moderate, as measured an approximate 0.45 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was moderate, showing only two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, although there was more color than we'd like to see. (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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Better than average viewfinder accuracy. Optical a little tight, LCD very accurate.
The D230's optical viewfinder was just a little tight, showing approximately 88 percent frame accuracy at wide angle. (This is better than average among optical viewfinders we've tested, though.) Images framed with the optical viewfinder are shifted slightly toward the upper right corner of the frame. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing about 97 percent at wide angle. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D230's LCD monitor did pretty well. Flash distribution is even in the center of the frame, with only a little falloff at the corners.