Comparison between the 
SHQ and HQ JPEG modes 
of my Olympus C-8080WZ.

Hans-Joachim Weber (2005-03-31)


The question to answer was:

Is it worth for my all day shooting to spend nearly double the disk space for the Super-High-Quality mode pictures (SHQ resulting in picture sizes of aprox. 2,5-3,4 MBytes each) in comparison to the Olympus default High-Quality (HQ resulting in picture sizes of aprox. 1,5-1,7 MBytes each) due to the higher JPEG compression levels?

A question that's not easy to answer, because the JPEG quality hardly depends on the implemented algorithm by the manufacturer in the firmware of the camera. In my previous digicam a Epson PhotoPC3000 for example I highly recommend shooting with lowest JPEG compression level.

I did what I ever did when I had to decide something in my photography history - I took my camera the Olympus C-8080WZ and my tripod got outside and shot some pictures!

But don't let us talk to much - here are my results!

Whole picture downsized from the Olympus 8MPixel resolution 3264x2448 to 900x675 for the WEB.
Olympus C-8080WZ; 7.1-35.6mm 1:2.4-3.5; 35,6mm (140mm equiv.)  f4 1/500; 50 ASA

The picture in no way (contrast, sharpness, color) was modified by me and shot with all default settings (HQ) of the Olympus C-8080WZ. I only downsized the picture in Photoshop to web resolution (900x675). The autofocus of the digicam was positioned on the "W" under the leg of the girl.

!n my oppinion the Olympus solved all the necessary tasks - automatic exposure, auto white balance and autofocus near perfection! The picture without modification is absolutly usable! Also color rendition and contrast seems in no way over tuned like some other cameras (for example many Sony's) in their default settings tend to do.

I directly before shot the other frame in SHQ mode. Light conditions due to the rising sun changed only very little during the mode change that took me a maximum of 5 seconds. Both shots were taken with selftimer to reduce shaking further to a minimum.

Here is the comparison of the 100% crops of both shots together opened in Photoshop:

100% crops from the full

Also you can see the very good sharpness of the Olympus lens at full tele position of 35.6mm (140mm equiv.) at aperture 4.0 (nearly wide open). In my opinion a very good result regarding that no additional sharpening or contrast adjustments have been applied.

Please compare and decide yourself the HQ picture on the left to the SHQ picture on the right!

I think the difference is nearly unvisible, and recognizable only in the direct comparison!

IMHO the comparison shows clear that Olympus has done a very good job and the HQ JPEG algorithm implementation in the C-8080WZ nearly unvisible degrades picture quality.
So my conclusion (thanks to Olympus) is clear:

The Olympus HQ quality is enough for my all day shooting saving me a lot harddisk and memorycard space!

If I really want to get out the last of the Olympus C-8080WZ I prefer to use the Olympus raw format (orf), but not so much because of better detail resolution but increased contrast- and color extend.

Last sentence:
I did the same comparison with my fathers Olympus C-5060 WideZoom and the result is the same! HQ is good enough you don't have to fear visible degration of picture quality! Also the Olympus firmware of the 8080 seems to be a direct successor to the 5060 firmware. View the following EXIF comparison of both cameras (from another day):

You can see on the left side that my 8080 reports Software: v757-75
wheras my pa's 5060 on the right side reports Software: v756-78
Close together, so the result does not surprise me!

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