Digital Cameras - Kyocera Finecam L4v 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!|
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 Finecam L4v did a fairly good job, albeit with somewhat high contrast.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is actually a fair bit lower than what the average digicam requires here. The lower midtones are a little dark as a result of the high contrast, but still show pretty good detail. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the resulting image had a slight reddish cast, as did the Daylight setting. The Manual setting produced warmer results, with a yellow cast.
Marti's skin tones are pretty natural here, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are a bit dark. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, often producing purplish tints in it. The L4v actually did very well with the color, rendering it only slightly dark, and with no sign of the usual "purple problem.") Color looks good throughout the rest of the frame as well, though the red flowers are on the verge of oversaturation. Resolution is high, although with what appear to be some noise-related artifacts, and some flattening of hair detail due to anti-noise processing. Detail is quite good even in the shadows, although there's a bit of noise there as well. A nice job overall.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV, see files L4VOUTAM1.HTM
through L4VOUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
More defined detail and higher resolution, but once again rather high contrast.
Overall results here are similar to the wider shot above, in terms of exposure and color, and the L4v's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Midtones are again dark, and overall contrast is high, but detail is still moderate in the shadows. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. Detail and resolution are stronger in this close-up shot, with pretty good definition. Image noise is again a little high in the shadows.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files L4VFACM1.HTM
through L4VFACP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, with good color as well. Poor match with room lighting in slow-sync mode though.
The L4v's built-in flash illuminated the subject very well here, requiring
only +0.7 EV of exposure compensation to produce
a bright exposure with good color, a bit less than is usually required
for this shot. Colors are excellent, and the illumination is fairly even
(although it looks like there's some falloff in the left corners). Shooting
in slow-sync mode, the room lighting swamped the flash exposure, the shot
actually requiring an exposure cut of -0.3
EV. The longer exposure allowed in a great deal of the room lighting,
producing a very yellow cast. (Some cameras have their flashes balanced
to match the color of indoor lighting more closely, and adjust their auto
white balance setting accordingly. Like most cameras though, the L4v doesn't
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Virtually identical results from all three white balance settings: All have a slight yellow cast.
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. All three of the L4v's relevant white balance settings
had just a little trouble here, producing nearly identical slight yellowish
color casts in the images. I chose the Auto setting for the main image
here, but it was really a toss-up between the three of them. While the
color cast is noticeable, I'd say that it's within acceptable bounds,
producing a fairly accurate representation of the original scene, preserving
the "mood" of the warm, incandescent room lighting. The exposures
at right were taken with +1.0 EV of exposure compensation, right about
average for this shot among the cameras I've tested.
So-so resolution, but good color.
The L4v's Auto white balance did the best job
here, producing the most accurate white value on the house trim and good
overall color. The Daylight setting also produced
good results, though with a slight yellow cast, but the Manual
setting was rather cool and bluish. Resolution isn't quite as good, and
the image has more artifacts than I would expect from a four-megapixel
camera. Still, the tree limbs above the roof and house front show good
detail, if somewhat soft with low definition. The corners of the frame
have even softer details, but the effect isn't overly strong.
Lower resolution than I'd expect from a 4 megapixel camera. Overexposure with the default setting and high contrast limit dynamic range severely.
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 I didn't feel that the L4v captured as much detail as I'd expect to see from a four-megapixel camera. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show pretty good detail, but the finest detail is lost to a "chunkiness" in the image. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, with strong corner softness in the top left corner. (Corner softness is present in the other three corners as well, but not as strongly.) The slight overexposure at the camera's default settings caused it to lose practically all of the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Despite the overexposure though, detail is also lower than I'd expect in the shadow area above the front door, evidence of a very limited dynamic range. Overall color looks quite good though, despite the bright exposure. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, and color series.
Lens Zoom Range
A typical 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 (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The L4v's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a medium telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Very good color with the Daylight white balance. High resolution, though bright exposure and high contrast.
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. The L4v's Auto was somewhat
tripped up by this obstacle, producing a yellow cast. The Manual
setting did the opposite, producing a rather cool image. Daylight
white balance, however, produced nearly accurate results, though with
a slight warm, reddish cast. Still, skin tones looked best with the Daylight
setting, as did overall color (despite slight purplish tints in the blue
background and in the deep shadows of the blue robe). Contrast is quite
high in this shot, resulting in rather hot highlights on the models' faces.
Resolution is pretty good, and detail is strong in the embroidery of the
blue robe, as well as in the necklaces, flower garland, and instruments.
That said, details are slightly soft, and the high contrast and apparent
anti-noise processing obscures definition in the finer details.
Mediocre macro performance: A large macro area, but good detail. Flash throttles down, but with strong falloff in the corners.
The L4v did worse than average in the macro category, capturing a large
minimum area of 6.45 x 4.84 inches (164 x 123 millimeters). Resolution
is high, with pretty good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch,
though details aren't terribly well-defined. Some slight corner softness
is visible in all four corners, and details are a bit soft throughout
the center of the frame as well. Exposure is a little bright here, and
contrast is high. Color is nearly accurate, though slightly warm and yellow.
The L4v's flash throttles down a little too
well for the macro area, with strong falloff in the corners of the frame.
Overall, the L4v probably won't be your first choice for macro shooting.
"Davebox" Test Target
Very good color, but a slight overexposure and very high contrast.
The L4v's Auto white balance setting produced the best results here, as the Daylight setting had a strong yellow cast and the Manual setting a lesser yellow cast. (Color balance is a hint reddish with the Auto white balance, but the white value is the best overall.) The exposure is a bit too bright, and contrast is high, but the L4v still manages to distinguish the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. Colors are bright and very vibrant in the large color blocks, and the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are too saturated. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows limited detail, and noise is moderate.
Pretty good low light images, capable of shooting under average city street lighting at night. Limited autofocus performance though. Warm color balance, but fairly low noise for the most part.
The L4v produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level at all three ISO settings. (You could arguably use some of the shots taken at the lower light levels, but the lighting is quite dim.) Color balance is slightly warm, and becomes progressively warmer as the light level decreases. Noise is pretty low at the ISO 80 setting, high at ISO 160, and very high at ISO 320. The biggest limitation of the L4v's low light capability is its autofocus performance: It works reliably only to about two foot-candles, and marginally at one foot-candle. In a typical night scene, there'll often be brighter reflections within the frame that the camera will be able to focus on, but for the most part, you'll need to use the L4v's manual focus option for night shooting. 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.)
Flash Range Test
Good flash range, but a little ISO "cheating" to get there.
In my testing, the L4v's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, although intensity decreased noticeably from 11 feet on. Like many digicams these days though, the L4v "cheats" a little bit by boosting its ISO rating to achieve the longer flash range. My EXIF file-header reader showed an odd variation between ISO 120 and 160 that didn't seem consistent with the distance to the target, but that did seem to somewhat track the apparent brightness of the images. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
Decent resolution, 1,050 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle.
The L4v performed fairly well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart, though somewhat below my expectations for a four-megapixel camera. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" only to 1,050 lines in both directions. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,200-1,250 lines.
Optical distortion on the L4v is quite high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.2 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I couldn't even find a full pixel of distortion. (There was actually about a half-pixel of barrel distortion, corresponding to a distortion level of about 0.02%.) 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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
An accurate LCD monitor, but rather tight optical viewfinder.
The L4v's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing only about 82 percent of the final image area at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. Images framed with the optical viewfinder are also somewhat off-center. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing about 97 percent accuracy at wide angle, and about 99 percent at telephoto. (Though at telephoto, the sides of the frame are cut off slightly.) Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the L4v's LCD monitor performs well here, but its optical viewfinder could use some help. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with a bright center and falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even, though dimmer.
L4V Test Images
L4V "Picky Details"
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