Digital Cameras - Pentax Optio 43WR 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 Optio 43WR performed well.
The shot at right was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, about average for this shot, but the resulting image has rather dark midtones and shadows. Contrast is a little high despite being shot with the camera's contrast adjustment set to its "low" setting, and midtones are somewhat dark, despite the rather bright highlights. I settled on the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Daylight and Manual settings also produced good results. (Both were just slightly reddish.)
Skin tones here look pretty good, just slightly more pinkish than in real life, but very close to the right color. The always-difficult blue flowers in the bouquet also show a bit more purple than in real life, but again the color is fairly close. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, which is in reality a light navy with just hints of purple in it.) The strong reds look good, however, with appropriate saturation, but greens are just slightly muted. Despite these few minor bobbles though, overall color is pretty good. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the bouquet and in Marti's features, although the image is a bit softer overall than those from the sharpest 4-megapixel digicams. Detail is also strong in the shadows, but noise there is fairly high.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV, see files O43OUTAM1.HTM through O43OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
High resolution, minor image noise though.
The image contrast is again a little high, as with the wider shot above, with slightly dark midtones. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, about average for this shot. The Optio 43WR's 2.8x zoom lens helps prevent geometric distortion of Marti's features, underscoring the value of a zoom lens for close portraits like this. There's a ton of crisp, well-defined detail in Marti's face and hair here, as well as in the background house siding. Despite being shot at the camera's ISO 50 setting though, there's a little image noise visible. (Not too bad though, most users will likely be hard-pressed to see it.)
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files O43FACAM1.HTM
through O43FACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good color and performance with an exposure boost.
The Optio 43WR's built-in flash is quite weak at the default exposure, requiring a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get good-looking results. Overall color is very good, with only a faint orange cast from the strong incandescent lighting in the room. The blue flowers in the bouquet also look about right, with only minor purplish tints in the petals. Though the flash is a little harsh on Marti's face, the results here are still very good overall.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV, see files O43INFM1.HTM
through O43INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Very good color with the Manual white balance option, pretty good exposure as well.
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 Optio 43WR's Auto white balance setting fell victim to the trap, producing a very strong yellow cast. The Incandescent setting also produced warm results, albeit not too far off the mark, while the Manual option got it almost perfect. Skin tones look good, just very slightly pink. The flower bouquet is slightly dark, however, with strong purple tints in the blue flowers (a common occurrence with this shot, given the very warm tones of the room lighting). The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average for this shot. Detail is strong, though image noise is high, particularly for the ISO 100 level that I shoot this image at. (Once again though, it bears noting that, while purists will carp about the noise levels here, most "ordinary" users are likely to find them completely acceptable.)
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files O43INMP0.HTM through O43INMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
High resolution and detail, and accurate color with the Manual white balance setting.
The Optio 43WR's Manual white balance setting
did the best job here, despite a slightly cool cast overall. The Auto
setting had a reddish cast, and the Daylight
option resulted in a warmer, yellow cast. Resolution is high, as the tree
limbs above the roof and front shrubbery show strong detail, although
the image isn't as sharp overall as those from the best 4-megapixel models.
Leaf patterns are fairly well defined, as is the brick pattern. The corners
are surprisingly sharp, with less of the softness there that I'm accustomed
to seeing in this shot from many digicams. There is some coma and chromatic
aberration in the upper corners, but the corner to corner sharpness is
nonetheless better than average.
Very high resolution and a lot of visible fine detail. Pretty good 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
Optio 43WR does pretty well with it, although as I've noted elsewhere,
it doesn't seem to quite rise to the level of sharpness found in the best
four-megapixel models. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in
front of the house show a lot of fine detail, especially in the leaf patterns.
Details are fairly sharp throughout most of the frame, though the corners
are slightly soft. The camera just barely holds onto detail in the bright
white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams,
and detail is pretty good in the shadow area above the front door, as
well. The Auto white balance setting does pretty well here, though the
white trim has a slight warm cast. The table below shows a standard resolution
and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, and saturation
Lens Zoom Range
A typical 2.8x 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 (2.8x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The Optio 43WR's lens is equivalent to a 37-104mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Reasonably good color with the Daylight white balance, albeit a little warm and reddish.
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 Optio 43WR's Auto
white balance setting had some trouble here, and produced a strong warm
cast. The Daylight setting resulted in a slight
warm cast as well, while the Manual white
balance produced a much cooler image. I settled on the slightly warm color
of the Daylight setting, as the pale skin tones of the Manual setting
were less pleasing. The reddish color cast creates purplish tints in the
blue background, as well as in the deep shadows of the blue robe. Still,
the overall color looks reasonably natural. Resolution is very high, and
detail is strong in the embroidery of the blue robe. (The original data
file for this poster was only 20MB though, so the Optio 43WR's four-megapixel
CCD is definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in
A very small macro area, with excellent detail. Flash has trouble up close though.
The Optio 43WR performed very well in the macro category, capturing a
minimum area of only 1.26 x 0.95 inches (32 x 24 millimeters). Resolution
is very high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. (The coins
and brooch are soft due to the shallow depth of field that comes with
the very short shooting distance - not the camera's fault.) There's quite
a bit of softness in the corners, a common failing of digicam macro modes.
The Optio 43WR's flash had trouble with the
macro area, and overexposed the shot. - Plan on using external illumination
for your closest macro shooting.
"Davebox" Test Target
Good color with the Manual white balance setting (just slightly greenish), and a good exposure.
The Optio 43WR's Auto and Daylight
white balance settings produced similar, warm images here, while the Manual
setting resulted in a more accurate color balance (though just a hint
greenish). The Optio 43WR did a pretty good job with exposure too, distinguishing
the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. Apart from the very
slight green cast, the large color blocks look nearly perfect, with good
hue and saturation. Detail is pretty good in the shadow area of the charcoal
briquettes, with moderate to slightly high noise levels. Overall, a very
The results below are more or less the same as we saw in similar series with other test subjects, so I won't bother repeating my earlier comments. (I nonetheless include these images because they provide more analytically-minded readers the means to study image characteristics with well-known target objects.)
Somewhat limited low-light performance, but capable of capturing good images under average city street lighting at night.
The Optio 43WR produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, though only at the 400 ISO setting. At ISO 200, images were bright only as far as 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux), and at ISOs 50 and 100, images were bright only at one foot-candle (11 lux), corresponding to typical city street lighting at night. Color was warm with the Auto white balance option, the warm cast increasing somewhat as the light level dropped. Given that I found the 43WR's images to be somewhat noisier than average under daylight shooting conditions, I was surprised that its low light shots were average to better than average in the noise department. Noise was quite low at the lower ISO settings, and even at ISO 400, the noise level was higher, but still not terrible. The camera's autofocus worked reliably down to about 1/4 foot-candle, not a bad performance. 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
A severely underpowered flash, with low intensity even at the shortest test distance.
In my testing, the Optio 43WR's flash barely illuminated the test target at the 14 foot test distance. Even at eight feet from the target, intensity is quite low. (Not surprising, given that Pentax only rates the unit's effective range at 2.1 meters with the lens at telephoto and the ISO set to "Auto." Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 1,100 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion, but moderate pincushion, low chromatic aberration, good corner sharpness.
The Optio 43WR performed quite well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800-900 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines horizontally, and about 1,050 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines. This performance is good for a 4-megapixel camera, better than I expected, given that I felt that the 43WR's more pictorial images were noticeably softer than those from the best full-sized 4MP models.
Geometric distortion on the Optio 43WR is high at the wide-angle end,
where I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto
end fared better, as I measured approximately 0.4 percent pincushion distortion
there. Both numbers are just on the outside of average levels I've found
among the digicams I've tested, but it bears noting that I feel that the
"average" levels are too high to begin with. Chromatic aberration
is low, showing only about three or four pixels of 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.) The image is also much sharper than average
in the corners. Overall, the 43WR's lens seems to be of surprisingly high
Resolution Series, ~50mm equivalent focal length
Resolution Test, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Poor accuracy with the optical viewfinder, but an accurate LCD monitor.
The Optio 43WR's optical viewfinder is very tight, with a large variance in accuracy between zoom settings. The viewfinder showed only about 73 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 85 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, though the bottom measurement lines were cut off in the final frame. Still, results were pretty good. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Optio 43WR's LCD monitor is close to ideal. Flash distribution is slightly uneven at wide angle, with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution a little more even, but still with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame.
43WR Test Images
43WR "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Pentax Optio 43WR, or add comments of your own!