Thursday, April 28, 2011

F550EXR versus F200EXR versus F300EXR – Long Exposures in Low Light – Review Part 47

So what would these cameras do in jpeg when you expose them for 8 seconds in low light of a poor color temperature? Something like my nasty old halogens that bounce from the ceiling at least 15 feet from the subjects here.

At 100 ISO, 8 seconds (minimum shutter speed for all three cameras in manual mode) is a slight over exposure for all three cameras. The F550 is brightest, with the F300 a bit less bright and the F200 less bright again. Still, close enough for this comparison.

Remember to click through to see the much larger crops. 500px square for all three cameras, times for crops each.

The top image is a crop from the focus target, a free trip to the Caribbean that came in the mail a while ago. It also includes two days in Orlando and 2 days in Fort Lauderdale. Of course, you have to sit through multiple full-court press time-share sales pitches, and were I in the mood for that, I might even consider it. Naaaaaaa :-)

Anyway, the top row is clean enough. The F200 and F300 are at their 6mp native M resolution. The F300 is a bit smaller because it’s at 24mm instead of the F200’s 28mm. So a wider angle of view, which shows in the size of the subject. The F550, on the other hand, is at the same wide angle of view but sports more pixels at 8mp, which makes up the difference and looks about the same as the F200.

So crop 1 looks good for all three. Decent contrast and edges, no real grain to speak of. That’s a good performance for small sensors at 8 seconds.

Next, though, we look left of the subject to the now familiar candy hearts sitting on top of a white drawer unit in crop 2. The F200 renders it very well, almost perfect color on AWB. It’s large photosites allow it to control the blue channel without any real pollution. Only a slight shift in the green channel mars a great performance. It renders the white a light beige and the shadows of the candies slightly shifted to brown. No big deal.

The F300 is also surprisingly good. It looks lighter here, but that is mainly caused by the higher exposure. There is again a slight shift in the green channel.

The F550’s Achilles’ Heel crops up as it did the last time we pushed the blue channel, except it is the camera pushing it here. The whole crop is pretty off-putting, shifting towards magenta on the candies and strangely, strongly towards brown on the white area. Not sure what that means.

Crop 3 is just a peek at the noise in dark areas, and it is under control.

Crop 4 is an intentional hard push of the blur channel. These items are all sitting on my desk, which is white. So I called up a curve on all three images and used the neutral dropper to set the table to neutral white. That shifted everything else towards blue.

The F200 continues to dominate this test. The large photosites vanquish the other cameras easily, A very slight magenta shift of the white area and candies is all we see. It would not be acceptable in a real image, i.e. you would probably set the white area neutral and allow the table to go warm. But this is still a good performance compared with what is coming. The F300 almost handles the white area, but there is a noticeable magenta shift there as well. (Perhaps purple, I can’t really tell the difference.)

The candies, though, are really shifted out of control. Very strong shift to magenta.


If you are planning to shoot in really bad light (low and orange), you will be happier with the F200 than any other EXR camera. The larger photosites tolerate bad light better. Simple as that. The F300, though, is not bad. Without the slight over exposure, it might have competed. But the F550 is definitely not cutting it. These super tiny photosites had to have at least one major down side, and blur channel performance looks to be the culprit.

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