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Digital Cameras - Olympus D-550 Zoom Test Images

(Original test posting: 06/20/02)

I'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, I'm posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

A bit contrasty, but excellent color, and "low contrast" setting helps.

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. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the D-550 Zoom did a good job. The camera's default tone curve is rather contrasty though, which was remedied by decreasing the camera's contrast setting. The shot at right was taken with a +0.5 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones without losing too much highlight detail. I chose the Daylight white balance setting as the most accurate, because overall color looked best. The Auto setting resulted in a slightly yellow color balance. Skin tones look good, though just slightly magenta, and the blue flowers have a few purplish tinges (a common problem with this shot), but overall color is very appealing. Resolution is fairly high, with a lot of fine detail in the flowers and model's face. The shadow areas also show good detail, with low noise.

 

 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent detail and resolution.

Results are similar to the wider shot above, and the D-550's 2.8x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of the model's features. The amount of visible fine detail increases in Marti's face and hair, with crisp definition throughout. Detail is also good in the shadow areas, with low noise. The main shot was taken without an exposure compensation adjustment, which loses some detail in the highlight areas, but maintains good midtone values.

To view the entire exposure series, from -0.5 to +0.5 EV, see files D55FACDM1.HTM through D55FACDP1.HTM on our thumbnail index page.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:

Normal Flash +1.0 EV

Good intensity and exposure with contrast adjustment.

The D-550 Zoom's flash illuminated the subject well, though required an exposure boost to get the best coverage. An orange cast appears on the back wall from the household incandescent lighting, and extends only slightly onto Marti, mainly noticeable in her hair and on her shoulders. Because my first shots were a bit too contrasty for my tastes, I shot with the camera's contrast adjustment set to Low, which balanced out the exposure nicely. (Click here for an example at the default contrast setting). The shot at right has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment.

To view the entire exposure series, from zero to +1.5 EV, see files D55INFP0.HTM through D55INFP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:

Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Bad color cast(!) with auto white balance, but good results with the Incandescent setting.

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. The D-550 Zoom's Auto white balance setting had a real problem here, producing a very strong, orange color cast. Though the Incandescent setting performed much better, it still resulted in a slightly warm color balance. (I actually like a slightly warm cast on this shot though, as it recalls the warmth of the incandescent room lighting. Perhaps just a little less warmth than the D550 shows, but not by much.) I again thought the D-550 Zoom's default tone curve was a little too contrasty, and shot with the Low contrast setting, which I chose for the main shot. (Here's a sample at the default contrast setting.) The blue flowers are dark and purplish from the warm color cast, a common problem with this shot. Though orangish, skin tones aren't too bad. The main shot has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment. Following are links to an ISO series and to the full exposure series.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.5 EV, see files D55INTP0.HTM through D55INTP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

 

House Shot:

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Great resolution and detail, with accurate color.

The Daylight white balance setting produced the most accurate color in this shot, without any strong color casts. By comparison, the Auto setting produced a rather warm, reddish cast. Saturation looks about right, though the blue sky is slightly pale. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail in the tree limbs above the roof and in the shrubbery in front of the house. The fine foliage details are well defined, and details are overall reasonably sharp throughout the frame. I noticed a little softness in the right corners, but the effect isn't too strong, overall better than most digicams I've tested.

 
 

 

Far-Field Test

Outstanding resolution and detail, with a nice 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 D-550 captures excellent detail throughout the frame. The tree limbs above the roof and the shrubbery in front of the house show a lot of fine detail, with a good level of sharpness. There's a slight amount of corner softness in all four corners of the frame, with the strongest case along the right side. The camera picks up the stronger details of the bright white paint around the bay window, where the harsh sunlight often results in lost detail. Additionally, the brick pattern is strong in the shadow area above the front porch. The combination of good detail in both the highlights and shadows shows that the D-550 has a good dynamic range. The Auto white balance setting produces accurate color, with good saturation. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, Contrast, and Sharpness series.

Resolution Series:

Giant / Fine
Giant / Normal
Large / Fine
 
Medium / Fine
 
Small / Fine
 
Tiny / Fine
 

 

ISO Series:

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

Contrast Series:

Low
Contrast
Normal
Contrast
High
Contrast

 

Sharpness Series:

Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Small / Fine

 
 

 

Lens Zoom Range

A good 2.8x zoom range. (Slightly less than average, but pretty close.)

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 (2.8x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The D-550's lens is equivalent to a 36-100mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

 

Wide Angle
2.8x Telephoto
3.6x Digital Telephoto

 

 
 

 

Musicians Poster

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Strong color cast from the blue background, but Daylight setting does well, with good detail and resolution.

This shot is typically a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition often tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The D-550 Zoom's Auto white balance system fell victim to this trap, and produced a very warm, yellow image. The Daylight setting produced a slightly reddish color balance, but overall color appeared the most accurate, and wasn't bad on an objective scale. Despite the red tint, which results in a purplish-blue background, overall color looks nearly accurate. Skin tones are close to correct, and the blue robe looks good (though it has purple tints in the shadow areas, a common problem with this shot). The embroidery of the blue robe shows a lot of fine detail, and overall resolution is high.

 

 

Macro Shot

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

About average macro performance, with good detail and flash output.

The D-550 Zoom performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.3 x 2.5 inches (85 x 64 millimeters). Resolution is high, and the coins, brooch, and dollar bill all show excellent detail. The printing details of the dollar bill are sharp, and well-defined. Some softness is present in all four corners, but the effect is slight. The camera's Auto white balance setting produces a warm cast, but overall color is still pretty good. The D-550 Zoom's flash throttled down pretty well for the macro area, producing a correct exposure on the bulk of the subject, with only the direct reflection on the brooch being blown out.

 

"Davebox" Test Target

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good exposure and color.

Both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced warm images, with the Daylight setting resulting in the strongest cast of the two. Though slightly warm, the large color blocks in the Auto setting look pretty good, with nearly accurate saturation (cyan and yellow squares are slightly weak though). Exposure is good, as the camera picks up the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. Detail is good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with minimal noise.

 

 

Low-Light Tests

Just sensitive enough for night shots under conditions just slightly darker than average city street lighting.

The D-550's adjustable ISO setting gives the camera some flexibility when shooting in low-light situations. The D-550 captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux), at both 200 and 400 ISO settings, while at ISO 100, images were only bright as low as one foot-candle (11 lux). The target remained visible, though slightly dim, at 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) at the 200 and 400 ISO settings. Typical city street lighting equates to about one foot-candle, so the D-550 can capture usable images at slightly lower light levels. Color balance is very warm from the Auto white balance setting. Noise is low at ISO 100, increasing slightly at ISO 200, and becoming moderately high at ISO 400. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels, at each ISO setting. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

 

1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.31lux
1/16fc
0.67lux
Click to see D55LL103.JPG

1.6 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL104.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL105.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL106.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL107.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL203.JPG

1/ 1 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL204.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL205.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL206.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL207.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL403.JPG

1/ 3 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL404.JPG

1.3 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL405.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL406.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

Click to see D55LL407.JPG

2 secs
F2.9

 

 

Flash Range Test

Somewhat underexposed, but reasonably consistent to 14 feet.

The D-550's flash was a little dim, even at the shortest distance from the test target. Flash power didn't seem to decrease much though, all the way to 14 feet from the test target. While it could stand a bit of an exposure boost at all distances, the flash appears to be bright enough to use all the way out to 14 feet. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

 

8ft. 9ft. 10ft. 11ft. 12ft. 13ft. 14ft.
Click to see D55FL08.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

Click to see D55FL09.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

Click to see D55FL10.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

Click to see D55FL11.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

Click to see D55FL12.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

Click to see D55FL13.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

Click to see D55FL14.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F4.4

 

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good performance, with strong detail to 1,100 lines/picture height.

The D-550 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, but I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,050 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,300 lines.

Optical distortion on the D-550 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured a 0.69 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only 0.28 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two to three pixels of 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.) The strongest optical distortion was some corner softness, most evident in the Macro and House shots, as well as the outdoor house shot.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle

Giant / Fine
Giant / Normal
Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Medium / Fine
Medium / Normal
Small / Fine
Small / Normal
Tiny / Fine
Tiny / Normal

 

Telephoto

Large / Fine

 

Sharpness Series

Soft (-2)
Normal (0)
Hard (+2)

 

 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor.

The D-550's optical viewfinder is tight, measuring approximately 81 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 85 percent at telephoto. This is about average for consumer digicams, even though I personally would really like to see them more accurate. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, as I measured about 98.5 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 99.8 percent at telephoto. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D-550 meets my expectations. Flash illumination at wide angle is uneven, with slight falloff in the corners of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even, though slightly dim. 


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD

 

 

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