Digital Cameras - Kodak EasyShare LS443 Test Images
(Original Review Date: 11/07/02)
|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, 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!|
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 LS443 handled the challenge pretty well, although the highlights are a little blown out.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.5 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which still resulted in slightly dark midtones. (Increasing the exposure compensation loses even more highlight detail, although it does lighten the midtones.) Highlight detail is lost in the brightest areas, and the shadows show only moderate detail. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate, because the Daylight setting resulted in a warm, reddish tint.
Skin tones are slightly warm, even with the Auto white balance, but still look pretty good. The blue flowers in the bouquet are bright and nearly accurate. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right, but the LS443 does a very good job with them. For reference, the flowers are a light to medium navy blue.) The LS443 had a little trouble with the strong reds in the bouquet, oversaturating them quite a bit. That aside, overall color is vibrant, which may be in part due to the high contrast.
Resolution is good, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. In the shadow areas, a moderately high noise level (and fairly large noise "grain size") obscures detail, making edges appear soft. Details throughout the rest of the frame are reasonably sharp, with just a hint of softness.
Personally, I prefer less contrast than this, but most consumers like bright, contrasty, "snappy" photos of the sort the LS443 delivers.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files LS44OUTAP0.HTM through LS44OUTAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Increased resolution and detail, though contrast is again high.
Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the LS443's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. The level of visible fine detail increases a great deal, with sharper definition in Marti's face and hair. The shot at right was taken with a +0.5 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in slightly dark midtones and only the strongest highlights blown out. Increasing the exposure compensation does brighten midtones, but the highlights become much too bright. Shadow detail is moderate, with moderate noise (though the large grain size again decreases clarity).
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files LS44FACAP0.HTM through LS44FACAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, and bright, accurate color. A very good performance overall.
The LS443's built-in flash illuminates the subject well here, producing a bright image with good color at the default exposure setting (though there wasn't too much difference between the default exposure and the -0.5 EV exposure setting). The background incandescent lighting results in a magenta-orange cast on the back wall, also slightly visible on Marti's features. Overall color is good, however, with vibrant color in the flower bouquet. A very slight blue cast appears on Marti's face and shirt from the flash, but isn't too bad overall. I also shot with the camera's Night Portrait exposure mode, which automatically synchronizes the flash with a slower shutter speed, and found the best results with a +0.5 EV exposure compensation adjustment. The brighter exposure decreased the orange cast slightly, but also resulted in stronger bluish tints on Marti from the flash.
The shots below show the results of the two exposure series with each of the flash options I tried (normal and Night Portrait):
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Both Auto and Incandescent settings result in slight color casts, and inconsistent exposure between white balance settings. Excellent results overall though.
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. Both the LS443's Auto and Incandescent white balance settings had a little trouble here, producing moderate color casts. It did better overall than the majority of cameras I've tested though. Despite the slight reddish tint, I chose the Auto setting for the main shot. Marti's skin tone is pretty good here, albeit somewhat ruddy, and the blue flowers came out quite dark and purplish. (Probably to be expected, considering the light source.)
I chose an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV for the main shot, but noticed that the exposure was slightly brighter with the Incandescent white balance series (+1.0 EV in the Auto setting was about equivalent to +0.5 EV under the Incandescent setting.)
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.5 EV in the Auto white balance setting, see files LS44INAP0.HTM through LS44INAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page. To view the same exposure series in the Incandescent setting, see files LS44INTP0.HTM through LS44INTP3.HTM, also on the thumbnail index page.
Fairly high resolution and good detail, but warm color balance and high image noise.
The LS443's Auto and Daylight white balance settings both produced slightly warm casts here. I chose the Auto setting for the main shot, as it had a less pronounced yellow cast (the Daylight image was reddish). I also noticed that the Auto image was a hint brighter than the Daylight one, showing again that exposure inconsistency I noticed with the Indoor Portrait (no flash) test above. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery, but details are somewhat soft throughout the frame, with a little increased softness in the corners. Image noise is moderately high in the shadows, with a large grain pattern that interferes with detail definition.
Excellent resolution and detail, but limited 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 LS443 does a nice job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house have strong detail, with good definition in the leaves and branches. Details are sharp throughout the frame, though the corners show a little softness. (Not the worst I've seen though, by far.) The strong sunlight causes the camera to losing practically all detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams, but particularly so for the LS443. Detail is slightly better in the shadow area above the front door, but it's still clear that the LS443's dynamic range (range of brightness it can capture usable detail over) is somewhat limited. Overall color looks good, although the camera oversaturates the bright greens slightly. Exposure is also a little bright overall. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality 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 LS443's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Pretty good color with Auto white balance, but the autoexposure system underexposed the images a fair bit.
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 LS443's Daylight white balance setting produced a fairly strong red cast, but its Auto setting produced better results, although still with just a hint of red. The biggest problem the LS443 had here was with its exposure, a rarity on this shot among digicams I've tested. The underexposure affects the color somewhat as well, producing dark, oversaturated hues. Skin tones on the models look about right, though the blue robe has purplish tints in the shadow areas. Resolution is high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. However, I noticed some jaggy-looking artifacts around the edges of the white bird's wings on the blue robe, as well as on the outside edge of the Asian model's shoulder.
A larger than average macro area, but good detail. Flash coverage is uneven but flash exposure is good.
The LS443 captured a slightly larger than average macro area, which measures 5.96 x 3.98 inches (151 x 101 millimeters). Resolution is high, however, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. I noticed some artifacts in the bright green printing of the dollar bill, but overall detail is well-defined and sharp. There's more corner softness in this shot (as is often the case with digicams shooting in macro mode), and it extends down the entire left side of the frame. The LS443's flash throttles down a little too well for the macro area, with uneven coverage and heavy falloff on the left side of the frame.
"Davebox" Test Target
Slight overexposure and oversaturated additive primary color blocks (red, green, and blue), but excellent color overall and good tonal range.
The LS443's Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate white value here, though with a very slight warm cast. (The Daylight setting produced a much warmer, reddish color cast.) Exposure is a hint bright, but the LS443 still manages to distinguish the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are bright and vibrant, although the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are a little oversaturated. (I also noticed a slight "glow" around the edges of these blocks.) The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows moderate detail, with moderately high, large-grained noise.
Best low-light shooting with Long Shutter mode, even though ISO adjustment is disabled.
The LS443's automatic exposure control limits its low-light shooting capabilities. However, a Long Shutter mode does work around this, providing exposure times as long as four seconds. The main problem here is that the adjustable ISO setting isn't available in Long Shutter mode, so you have to choose between the two features. Overall I obtained better results working in Long Shutter mode. Judging by the rather high noise level, it appears that the camera automatically adjusted the ISO to 400 in this mode. With the four second exposure time, the LS443 produced a very bright image at the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level (inset photo right), much darker than average city streetlighting at night. (Typical streetlighting equates to about one foot-candle, or 11 lux.)
Sticking with the camera's normal exposure mode and adjustable ISO settings, I was only able to get clear, bright, usable images down to the two foot-candle (22 lux) light level, at ISO 400. At ISO 200, images were bright only as low as four foot candles (44 lux), and at ISO 100, images were bright only to eight foot-candles (88 lux). Thus, it's worth giving up the ISO adjustment to get better low-light exposures with the camera's Long Shutter mode. Noise is low with the 100 and 200 ISO settings, but jumps to a moderately high level at ISO 400. Color balance is warm from the Auto white balance, but color is reasonably bright and vivid. The table below shows the best exposure I was 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.
Flash Range Test
A flash range of about 9 feet, although it may come in handy for fill illumination as far away as 14 feet.
In my testing, the LS443's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, though with decreasing intensity. Flash power fell off from the nine foot distance on, though it remained moderately effective at 14 feet. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
About 1,000 lines of "strong detail," a bit below average for four megapixel cameras. About average barrel distortion, higher than average pincushion.
The LS443 came in a bit behind the best four megapixel models on our "laboratory" resolution test chart, with roughly the same resolution as the best three megapixel units I've tested. 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" out to at least 1,000 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,300 lines.
Optical distortion on the LS443 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as I measured a 0.6 percent pincushion distortion. The barrel distortion is average to slightly higher than average among cameras I've tested, while the pincushion is higher than average. Chromatic aberration is high (possibly exaggerated by some corner softness), showing eight or more pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) As I mentioned, I found a moderate amount of softening of the corners of the LS443's images throughout my testing, the strongest example occurring in the macro shot.
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor.
The LS443's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing only 80 percent frame accuracy at wide angle and about 83 percent frame accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing 99 percent frame accuracy at the telephoto setting. At wide angle, the top measurement line was just cut off, but frame accuracy seems to be nearly the same as at telephoto. Given that I prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the LS443's LCD monitor just about meets my expectations in that regard. Flash distribution is fairly even (though dim) at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is brighter and more even.
LS443 Test Images
LS443 "Picky Details"
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