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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Essential Image Comparison Tools

Last year, I wrote a post about some great hardware comparison tools to use when looking for your next camera. As cool as those sites are, they are only part of the camera research toolbox. What should matter more for your next camera is the quality of the images it produces. On that note, I recently came across two image comparison tools that I thought I should share. Both of these tools offer handy side-by-side comparison images of the exact same subjects, taken with various cameras, across a range of ISO sensitivities.

There’s no question that these tools fully amount to “pixel peeping.” That means looking at images at 100% resolution and comparing the smallest details. While I think doing that can be valuable for comparing one camera to the next, try to stop doing that once you actually get the camera. A memorable image can be blurry, noisy, improperly framed, poorly lit, etc. The subject, story, emotions, and so much more, are far more important than any pixel-level imperfections. See what I mean by checking out this Anti-Pixel Peeping thread.

That said, I like to know that I’ve done everything I can (within budget) to ensure that my gear isn't what’s preventing me from getting the shots that I want. These tools help me know what a camera is capable of under ideal conditions. I strongly recommend bookmarking the following two sites for your next camera search.

DP Review Studio Comparison Tool
The Studio Comparison tool lets you select one primary camera, and then up to three others to compare it to. Once you've done that, you’ll see a test image with a wide range of objects. You can pan around at will by clicking on any part of the test image. What I love about this, is that you can globally set the ISO sensitivity for all cameras to be the same, or set at a different ISO sensitivity for each camera. Some added bonuses are that you can compare the RAW output of each camera instead of just the JPEG, download the full size image from each camera and test printing them, or mouse over the icon just beneath each picture for information on the settings used.

Here is an example I generated comparing the Fuji X100s, Sony RX100, Canon S110, and the Canon T4i:

The tool is very easy to use, but here is a short video demo of the main features from DP Review:

The Comparometer is far less advanced than the DP Review site, but I like it as it offers a much wider variety of test shots for comparison. This tool lets you compare two cameras side-by-side, and also lets you view or download the full resolution images. 

Final Thoughts

There isn't much for me to say about these tools as they are simple and easy to use. The real story is in the images. Just remember that while these tools are cool, they are only part of the story. In the end, the only thing that matters is capturing a shot that is memorable for one reason or another, even if it’s imperfect

Check out my photography work at: