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Casio QV-5000SX Test Images

In our normal fashion, we're posting the test images for the QV-5000SX as soon as they are available. We'll post the full review as soon as possible, although travel plans mean that probably won't be until early July. (We hope to have these images patched into the Comparometer(tm) by Thursday, 6/18/98, so you can readily compare with other cameras.)

Several readers have requested that we include more examples of cameras operating in their lower-resolution modes, and we have responded in this set of test images by different compression levels for key test scenes. We've also added a "live" version of the house shot, to test far-field lens performance. This goes against our philosophy a bit, in that the picture is obviously going to change drastically over time, with the weather, seasons, and growth of the landscaping. Some elements will nonetheless stay the same, and we believe the shot will give at least a reasonable indication of optical performance at infinity.

Overview
With the QV-5000SX, Casio steps into the "megapixel" leagues, also including their first autofocus lens on a camera, a surprisingly versatile flash, and (sadly) stepping away from their by-now trademark swiveling lens design. They retained their unique "mini-movie" capability, now permitting up to 6.4 seconds of action to be "filmed" (albeit at low resolution) by the camera and stored in only a couple of frames of conventional memory.

One of the things we like best about Casio's cameras is the ease and speed of their user interfaces. At first glance, the icons look a little blocky and low-tech, but we have to say (particularly after using some much more sophisticated and more expensive cameras) that nobody makes a user interface that navigates as fast as Casio's. They also deserve big pluses for frame-to-frame speed in playback mode - you can step between pictures about as fast as you can press the button.

Look for our full writeup on the QV-5000SX about July 4 - we'll go into our usual depth on all its operating modes and features. Until then, here are all of our standard test shots, with detailed commentary on each.

Outdoor portrait: (276k) Really a very good handling of this difficult shot! (Exposure was adjusted +1 unit to compensate for the exposure effect of the bright wall behind the model.) Colors are slightly muted, and detail is slightly soft, but the image holds up surprisingly well even to higher-priced competition. Detail seems to fall off a bit quickly in the shadows, but there are absolutely no compression artifacts to be seen anywhere (at least to our eyes). While the colors are a little muted, they clean up quite nicely with a quick "auto levels" in Photoshop. Good color accuracy for the most part, but the blue flowers and pants of the model are rendered as rich purples - an odd anomaly. Overall impression is nonetheless quite good.
 

Closer portrait: (247k) This is one of the new test shots we mentioned above. As with the main outdoor portrait shot, good detail albeit slightly soft, good tonality but slight loss in shadows, slightly muddy color which cleans up easily in Photoshop. The rather short focal length lens distorts the model's face, meaning you probably wouldn't want to use the '5000 for close portraits like this.  

Indoor portrait, flash: (394k) Indoors under tungsten lighting, the QV-5000's flash is a little unpredictable, sharing with the earlier QV-770 the tendency to pick up a strong cast from the ambient lighting, particularly where it is fairly bright, as here. (EV ~12.3) Under much dimmer conditions, where the flash could dominate the exposure, color was more natural. You can reduce the effect somewhat by decreasing the EV compensation, which appears to only affect the ambient lighting. Here are samples shot with the EV setting turned down 2 steps and turned down 4 steps. We have to note though that most "normal" flash shots we took indoors didn't produce this extreme color shift, so it's possible the rather strong lighting was at fault. Overall though, given the exceptional light sensitivity the QV-5000 shares with its predecessors, you're probably better off just shooting with available light. (See the "no flash" portrait below.)  

Indoor portrait, no flash: (399k) The indoor, non-flash shots are where the QV-5000SX's low-light capability really shines! (So to speak;-) The main shot here was taken with the white balance set to "auto", and one unit of +EV compensation (about a half of an f-stop). Nice shot! Reasonable detail, very bright and open, excellent cast correction. But... the *@# blue flowers still come out purple! (Actually, this may be a problem between these specific flowers and the '5000s color filters - the flowers are fabric, and even color film is very prone to "metameric" problems like this with certain fabric dyes. Blue shades on the MacBeth chart, and in the Musicians poster showed no such tendency.) We experimented with the preset "incandescent" white balance setting to see how it performed. Curiously, it left much more of the yellow cast from the tungsten lighting in the image. Here are shots taken with the default exposure setting, and with 2 units of +EV compensation (about a full f-stop). While these capture more of the "mood" of the lighting, we really prefer the auto white-balance version.  

House shot: (687k) The "House" picture is one of the strongest resolution challenges in our test suite. The QV-5000 does reasonably well with it, but shows odd (albeit tiny) pixel-level artifacts along contrast boundaries. The checkerboard "zipper" pattern is barely visible on-screen at 100%, in the louver vanes in the central gable, and where the downspouts pass in front of darker areas. This is a pretty subtle defect though: You have to look hard to see it at 100% size on-screen. It is likely to be invisible at less than full-page size with all but the highest-resolution printers. Color is good, with a slight yellowish cast, and slight under-saturation in the greens and blues. Bottom line: If your application requires full-page printing, the QV-5000SX should hold up well. (Go ahead and download this image & try printing it on your own printer, to see for yourself!) We shot this image at the largest image size of the camera, in all compression modes, so you can see how the different compression settings affect final image quality.

Economy
(146k)

Normal
(433k)

Fine
(534k)

Super
(687k)

 
 

Far-Field shot: (609k) This is the second of the new shots we mentioned above. It 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. Color in this sunlit outdoor shot was excellent, detail good to very good. Shadow detail is surprisingly good also. Tough to tell, given the differences in the subject matter, but looking at the detail of fine branches against the sky, far-field performance of the lens looks very slightly weaker than close-field. (We're probably splitting hairs here though, especially given the inherent differences in the subjects.)  

"Musicians" poster: (529k) On the "Musicians" test image, the QV-5000 produced good tonal range and detail, but colors were somewhat muted, with a cool cast overall. This image is one for which we ran the full range of compression settings. The "Super" resolution image has essentially no compression artifacts, while those in the "Normal" version are only evident in some areas (around the decorations on the blond model's vest). Given the large 8 MB internal memory, most users will probably gravitate toward the "Super" setting.

Economy
(108k)

Normal
(288k)

Fine
(377k)

Super
(529k)
 
Macro shot: (416k) The QV-5000's built-in macro capability produces very respectable results, focusing down to capture a minimum area of 3.2 x 4.2 inches (8.0 x 10.7 cm). While the digital tele really does no more than pre-crop the image area for you (down to 640x480), we felt it could be particularly useful for web publishers with macro needs. This shot (98k) shows the results of a 2x zoom, which brings the minimum area down to 1.7 x 2.2 inches (4.2 x 5.6 cm). While we liked the 2x zoom, we felt the 4x left a picture (75k) too blurry to use except at the smallest reproduction sizes.  

"Davebox" test target: (398k) Very strong, almost electric color saturation in the strong primaries in the MacBeth target, but stilll fairly delicate handling of pastels in the Q60, preserving Column "B" of the Q60, albeit just barely. The QV-5000SX is a fairly "contrasty" camera, producing bright images with somewhat limited tonal ranges. Shadow detail extends to about swatch "B" (16) on the long, vertical Kodak grayscale bar, and deep shadow detail in the charcoal is lost. The white-on-white gauze is close to being blown out, but playing with "levels" in Photoshop or other image editors proves there's actually a fair bit of detail there. Overall, lots of contrast will make big, bright images, but at some cost to detail at either extreme of the tonal range.

Economy
(72k)

Normal
(192k)

Fine
(280k)

Super
(398k)
 

"WG-18" resolution target: (433k) (Technoids Only!) Overall resolution is roughly 657 line pairs/picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, with slight color aliasing for parallel lines at high frequencies. Close examination (200% on the monitor) reveals the jagged "zipper" artifacts along vertical and horizontal edges that we mentioned in earlier shots. Doesn't show on the screen at 100%, but highest-quality inkjet printers will see it on full-page blowups. (Download these images, print on your own printer at typical sizes you'll be working, and see how they look: Unless you routinely need to run 8x10 glossy prints, we suspect the results will be satisfactory.

Economy
(88k)

Normal
(270k)

Fine
(318k)

Super
(433k)

We also shot the resolution target with the "Digital Zoom" enabled at both 2x (189k) and 4x (105k) settings. While the 2x zoom produces a usable, if artifact-laden 640x480 image, the 4x version is so blurred as to be practically useless, even for web work. Bottom line: 2x works reasonably well (particularly useful for macro shots to be used on the web), but 4x isn't realy useful.

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: The optical viewfinder (270k) on the QV-5000SX is about in the middle of the pack in terms of accuracy. It shows about 13% less area top/bottom and left/right than the CCD actually captures, and produces shots offset a few percent to the top and right relative to what you saw through the viewfinder. Not bad, but not the very best either. The LCD viewfinder (250k) on the other hand, is deadly accurate - as good as any we've found on any camera. It essentially shows you exactly 100% of what the CCD will eventually save to memory. This also held up fairly well in the case of the digital telephoto mode (251k), although there we actually observed a very slight cropping of the final image relative to what we saw on the LCD. Flash uniformity is only good, with moderate light falloff at the edges and corners.  

 

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