Digital Cameras - Olympus Stylus 300 Digital 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, 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 up the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors. The Stylus 300 Digital delivered great colors here, but at the cost of too-high contrast and lost highlight detail.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which was the brightest I was willing to go before losing even more highlight detail. As it is, midtones are still a bit dark, and the white highlights of the shirt are blown out, due to the Stylus 300's high default contrast. Color balance was just a little blue and cool with both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings, though I chose the Daylight setting for the main shot.
Marti's kin tones are a bit pale, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are a bit darker than they are in real life. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. For reference, the flowers are a light navy blue with just hints of purple in them.) The Stylus 300 Digital also had a hard time with the strong reds, oversaturating the red flowers in the bouquet, and producing bluish tints in them as well.
Resolution is very good, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Shadow detail is moderate, as is image noise.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files OS30OUTDP0.HTM
through OS30OUTDP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Great resolution and detail, though exposure is bright.
Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the Stylus 300 Digital's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Detail is outstanding, with sharp details in Marti's face and hair. Even the most subtle texture of the house siding is clear and distinct. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment. Highlights are a bit too bright, but the midtones look pretty good, with plenty of detail. (For some reason, the +0.3 EV shot came out brighter than the +0.7 EV one, and the default exposure is too dark altogether. I'll reshoot this if I can get a chance.) Shadow detail looks good, and noise is moderately low.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files OS30FACDP0.HTM
through OS30FACDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Low brightness with the built-in flash, color balance is fairly warm. Pretty natural look with the slow-sync option though.
The Stylus 300 Digital's built-in flash proved quite dim in its normal setting, without any exposure adjustments. (This shot often tricks flashes into underexposing, so without a flash compensation adjustment, the Stylus 300 digital is left at something of a disadvantage.) The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features a little. Overall color is slightly warmer than I'd like, though it's difficult to judge due to the underexposure. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced better results, though overall flash power was still slightly low. Color is a little better with the brighter exposure, though still somewhat warm. The orange cast from the incandescent lighting is reduced to a slight yellow cast, but the flash produces subtle bluish tints in the shadows.
Warm color balances with both white balance settings, though exposure is good.
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 Stylus 300 Digital's Auto and Incandescent white balance settings produced rather warm images, though the Auto setting resulted in the strongest color cast. Marti's skin tone is quite warm from the yellow cast, and the blue flowers came out dark and very purple.
The best exposure was obtained with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produced good highlights and shadows. Image noise is moderate.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files OS30INTP0.HTM
through OS30INTP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Great resolution, detail, and color, though details are slightly soft.
The Stylus 300 Digital's Auto setting produced the best overall results here, though the Daylight white balance produced similar results with an only slightly warmer cast. Resolution is good, with reasonably strong detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery. Details are slightly soft, however, particularly in the fine foliage. There's only a hint of additional softness in the corners, strongest on the right side of the frame.
Excellent resolution and detail, though a limited dynamic range due to high contrast.
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 Stylus 300 Digital performed surprisingly well for such a compact model. Detail in the tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house rivals that seen with high-quality full-sized three-megapixel cameras. The image is also surprisingly sharp all the way to the corners, with little of the softening in the corners that I'm accustomed to seeing in digicam shots, particularly ones from subcompact cameras like the Stylus 300. While very bright, the camera holds onto the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. However, detail is minimal in the shadow area above the front door, showing a limited dynamic range. Overall color looks fairly accurate, though exposure is a little bright. 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 Stylus 300 Digital's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a standard wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Good overall color, though slight color casts with both auto and daylight white balance settings, with good resolution and 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. The Stylus 300 Digital's Auto white balance fell victim to this trap, producing a warm image with yellow skin tones. The Daylight setting proved more accurate, albeit slightly cool. Skin tones look pretty good, though the blue background has purplish tints that aren't in the original image. The blue robe is a little dark, with fairly strong purple tints in the shadow areas. Resolution is high, with strong detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. Overall, a good performance.
Surprisingly good macro performance, with good detail, color, and resolution.
The Stylus 300 Digital performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.77 x 2.08 inches (70 x 53 millimeters). This is better than average, and much better than most subcompact cameras manage. Resolution is high, with great detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are just slightly soft throughout the frame, with additional softness in the top right corner. (The Stylus 300 Digital's minimum focus distance in Macro mode is 20 centimeters, though the camera lets you use telephoto to zoom in closer. This results in less distortion from the lens than I commonly see in digicams that force the lens to the wide angle setting for macro shots.) The Stylus 300 Digital's flash also throttled down very well for the macro area, producing a reasonably even and bright exposure.
Good exposure, though high contrast. Color is excellent, aside from a very slight greenish cast, with good saturation.
Both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced practically identical images here, with similar, very slightly greenish white values. Despite the subtle tint, overall color is excellent. The large color blocks are just about perfectly colored, although slightly dark. Saturation is good for the most part, though the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are a bit too intense. Exposure looks about right, though contrasty, and the Stylus 300 Digital picks up the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows limited detail though, with moderate noise.
Good performance with the camera's Night Scene mode, though autofocus has trouble in low light.
The Stylus 300 Digital's normal Program AE mode offers shutter speeds only as slow as 1/2 second. However, switching to Night Scene mode extends the range to four seconds, which improves the camera's low-light performance greatly. The main problem I ran into however, was the camera's AF system. It had trouble focusing accurately at light levels much darker than one foot-candle (11 lux).
In my testing, the camera produced bright exposures as low as one foot-candle, which is about equivalent to average city street lighting at night. However, the target was reasonably bright at the 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) light level, although focus was slightly soft. Noise is low, and color is pretty good, though a hint warm. 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 of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
Flash Range Test
A slightly dim flash, though intensity is consistent all the way to 14 feet. Image noise increased dramatically at greater distances though.
In my testing, the Stylus 300 Digital's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. Flash power is just slightly weak, and the images have a slight warm cast, but intensity is consistent from the eight foot distance on. How the Stylus 300 achieves this unusual (for a subcompact digicam) range is a little tricky though: It boosts the camera's ISO light sensitivity value for any flash shots beyond something a bit under 8 feet. As a result, while the 300 has excellent flash range, shots snapped at any significant distance will be very noisy. Below is my flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
Good resolution, with 900-1,000 lines of "strong detail."
The Stylus 300 Digital performed about average on our "laboratory" resolution test chart for its 3.2-megapixel class. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height horizontally, and around 600 lines vertically. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines horizontally and 900 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines.
Optical distortion on the Stylus 300 Digital is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. (This is about average among cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see much less geometric distortion in digicam images than that.) The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only one pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three or four 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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Optical viewfinder is fairly tight, but the LCD monitor is nearly perfect.
The Stylus 300 Digital's optical viewfinder was somewhat tight, showing only 76 percent of the frame at wide angle, and only 79 percent at telephoto. (Consumer digicams generally range from 85-90% accuracy in their optical viewfinders.) The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 98 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and close to 100 percent at telephoto. (The outside edges of my standard lines of measurement were just barely cut off at telephoto.) Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Stylus 300 Digital's LCD monitor is almost perfect in that regard, but I'd like to see a much more accurate optical viewfinder. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with quite a bit falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform and slightly brighter.
Stylus 300 Test Images
Stylus 300 Specifications
Stylus 300 "Picky Details"
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