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Digital Cameras - Minolta DiMAGE G500 Test Images

 

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

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Good resolution and detail, with accurate color, though contrast and saturation are both a little high.

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 Dimage G500 performed fairly well, though with slightly high contrast and saturation.

The shot at right was taken with a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, quite a bit more than most cameras require for this shot. Contrast is a little high, which results in slightly dark midtones and bright highlights. I shot an image with the camera's low contrast and saturation settings, which helped some, but the effect was relatively slight. (See below for a side-by-side comparison.) I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, as the Daylight setting was a hint reddish.

Marti's skin tones look pretty good (perhaps just slightly ruddy), and the blue flowers in the bouquet are nearly right. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, and the G500 does produce slight purplish tints here, but nonetheless does a pretty good job with it.) Color looks good throughout the rest of the frame as well, though the red flowers are just a tad oversaturated. Resolution is excellent, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Shadow detail is pretty good, with lower than average noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files G50OUTAP0.HTM through G50OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast and saturation were slightly high with the camera's default contrast setting, under the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. The G500's low contrast and saturation adjustments were subtle, but my minor saturation boost to counteract the dulling effects of the contrast cut put the contrast right back up again.

 



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, but high contrast again.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, again with slightly high contrast. Still, midtone detail is good, though detail in the very deep shadows is limited, and Marti's complexion looks a little sunburned here. The shot at right was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, again somewhat higher than average for this shot. The G500's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion in Marti's features. Detail is outstanding, with sharp details in Marti's face and hair. (Probably more than she would care to see full-screen.)

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files G50FACAM1.HTM through G50FACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
Default Exposure
Slow-Sync Mode
+1.7 EV

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, even at its default exposure setting, with good color as well.

The G500's built-in flash illuminated the subject here very well at its default exposure setting, and produced a bright exposure with good color. The flower bouquet looks reasonably accurate for a flash exposure, and there's very little color cast from the background incandescent lighting. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which surprisingly required a +1.7 EV exposure compensation boost. (Here's a shot at the default exposure, which is just a little too dim.) The longer exposure time allows more ambient light into the image, which creates a stronger orange cast from the household lighting. Still, overall color is good, and the exposure is slightly more even than in the normal flash shot above.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance

A pink color cast from the Auto white balance setting, and varying exposure results depending on the ISO.

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 G500's Auto white balance had just a little trouble here, and produced a pinkish color cast. The color cast intensified or decreased depending on the ISO and exposure settings. The main shot was taken at ISO 100, with an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV (about average compensation for this shot). Although the exposure is a little dim, anything brighter produced odd highlights on Marti's shirt. The pink cast and dim exposure result in purplish tints in the blue flowers, which are also very dark.

ISO Series:
Noise is low at the G500's 50 and 100 ISO settings, but increases to an objectionable level at ISO 200. At ISO 400, the noise is so bad that I personally wouldn't consider the image to be usable.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Great resolution and detail, but an overly warm color balance.

Though slightly warm and yellowish, the G500's Daylight white balance produced the best overall color here, with the most accurate white value on the house trim. The Auto setting resulted in a warmer, more yellow color cast. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs and front shrubbery. (The G500's five-megapixel CCD stretches the limits of this poster as a test target. Even though the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens, the G500 is close to extracting all the detail that's to be found here.) Details are also sharp throughout the center of the frame, though corner softness is strong on the left side.



 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, with a good dynamic range and nearly accurate color.

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 G500 picks up a lot of fine detail throughout the frame. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, with excellent definition in the leaf patterns. In-camera sharpening does a good job here as well, and details are sharp across the frame, with very little softening in the corners. The camera picks up pretty good detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window as well, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is also strong in the shadow area above the front door, but I suspect that the reason the dynamic range looks so good here is that the weather was a little hazy when I shot the image. (One of the difficulties with using outdoor shots for references between cameras.) Overall color looks good, as does exposure. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and color series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
G50FARLF
G50FARLN
2,048 x 1,536
G50FARMF
-
1,600 x 1,200
G50FARSF
-
640 x 480
G50FARTF
-


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series: The G500's sharpness, saturation, and contrast settings all feature adjustment levels from -2 to +2 in arbitrary units. Below is a sampling of images showing the range of those adjustments.

Sharpness Series
Soft (-2)
Normal
Sharp (+2)

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low (-2)
Normal
High (+2)

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Lowest (-2)
Low (-1)
Normal
High (+1)
Highest (+2)

Color Series: The G500 offers a handful of color adjustment options, including the ability to tweak the red, blue, and green channels. Below is a sampling of the adjustments, which span from -2 to +2 in arbitrary units, as well as examples of the camera's Black and White and Sepia options.

Color Series
Black and White
Sepia

Color Series
Red -2
Red +2
Green -2
Green +2
Blue -2
Blue +2



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range, biased slightly toward the telephoto end.

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 (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The G500's lens is equivalent to a 39-117mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle and a good telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Reddish color cast in response to the large amount of blue in the composition, but excellent 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 G500's Auto and Daylight settings were tricked slightly, producing reddish color casts as a result. As the Daylight setting looked the most natural to my eye, I chose it for the main image. The reddish color cast affects the models' skin tones, and produces purplish tints in the blue background and in the shadow areas of the blue robe. Resolution is excellent, as the embroidery on the blue robe and red vest show a lot of fine detail. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the G500 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

A small macro area with good detail in the dollar bill. Flash is blocked by the lens, however.

The G500 performed pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.85 x 2.14 inches (72 x 54 millimeters). Resolution is very high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. However, the coins and brooch are soft due to the very short shooting distance (and probably some corner softness as well). Corner softness is strong on the left side of the frame. The position of the G500's flash directly above the lens results in a dark shadow in the lower portion of the frame, so an external light source will be best for macro shooting.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good overall exposure, but a rather warm color cast.

The G500's Auto and Daylight settings produced similar, warm-toned images. I chose the Auto setting for the main shot, though it isn't much different from the Daylight shot. Exposure is about right, and the G500 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. Aside from the warm cast, colors are nearly accurate in the large color blocks, although I found the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) a tad oversaturated. (Even the white color block has a slight halo, along the left side.) The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes has moderate detail, with moderate noise.



 

Low-Light Tests

Good low-light performance, with usable images at the lowest light level of my test.

The G500 has a manual exposure mode, adjustable ISO setting, and a maximum exposure time of 15 seconds. As you'd expect then, the camera performed well on my low-light test, capturing bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, at all four ISO settings. (The ISO 50 image is just slightly dim at this lowest light level, but still somewhat usable, and could potentially be brightened with post capture software.) The G500 automatically applies Noise Reduction on exposures longer than 1/2-second. However, I still found noise levels a little higher than I'd like at the ISO 200 and 400 settings, especially with the longer exposures. Color is pretty good overall with the Auto white balance, though the dim lighting results in a reddish cast. 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 my 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 1 foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of 2 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 G50LL0503.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL0504.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL0505.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL0506.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL0507.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
Click to see G50LL1003.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL1004.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL1005.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL1006.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL1007.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see G50LL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL2004.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL2005.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL2006.JPG
8 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL2007.JPG
15 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see G50LL4003.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL4004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL4005.JPG
2 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL4006.JPG
4 sec
f2.8
Click to see G50LL4007.JPG
6 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

A moderately powerful flash, with decreasing intensity from nine feet on.

Minolta rates the G500's flash as effective to about 11 feet, a slightly generous estimate in my opinion, but it bears noting that my test shots below were captured at ISO 50, a lower sensitivity than most people would use for after-dark photography. In my testing, the camera's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but with a gradual decrease in intensity from nine feet on. 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 G50FL08.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50
Click to see G50FL09.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50
Click to see G50FL10.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50
Click to see G50FL11.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50
Click to see G50FL12.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50
Click to see G50FL13.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50
Click to see G50FL14.JPG
1/100 sec
f4.9
ISO 50


 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,300-1,350 lines of "strong detail." Slightly high barrel distortion at wide-angle, though low distortion at telephoto.

The G500 performed very well on my "laboratory" resolution test chart. Test patterns in both horizontal and vertical directions looked clean and clear as far as 900 lines, and even the artifacts that did show up were very minor. (Artifacts were strongest in the horizontal test patterns.) I found "strong detail" out to 1,300-1,350 lines, though vertically, you could argue for higher. (I suspect some reviewers would rate the G500's resolution here as high as 1,500 lines or more, but I tend to be a bit more conservative in my resolution ratings than some, feeling that resolution shouldn't be counted past the point where artifacts compete strongly with genuine subject detail.) "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,700 lines.

Optical distortion on the G500 is slightly high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I measured 0.2 percent barrel distortion there. Chromatic aberration looks to be about average, as there's moderately strong coloration visible 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.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
G50RESWLF
G50RESWLN
2,048 x 1,536
G50RESWMF
-
1,600 x 1,200
G50RESWSF
-
640 x 480
G50RESWTF
-

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Tele)
G50RESTLF




 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

The G500's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing 83 percent of the final frame at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate in some respects, showing 98 percent frame accuracy at both zoom settings. However, images framed with the LCD monitor were just slightly cut off at the very left of the frame, so I'd recommend nudging in just a little extra space when tight framing is key. Still, given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the G500's LCD monitor performed pretty well here. 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, but dimmer.

G500 Review
G500 Test Images
G500 Specifications
G500 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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