The Olympus SZ-20 offers a light sensitivity range starting out at a lower than user selectable ISO80 and topping out at now standard issue ISO3200. Further expanding the selectable options we also get both Auto ISO and automatic High ISO settings. Let's see how the SZ-20 gets on with our standard test set up, shot using a tripod, available light at the highest JPEG resolution and utilising auto white balance.
The lowest setting on the SZ-20 is ISO80, coincidentally also the option the camera itself chose when we tried both its Auto ISO setting. The High ISO option went for ISO320 instead. As we'd expect there's no noise visible anywhere in the image
Up a notch at ISO100 and there's barely any difference between this and the preceding image
At ISO200 and all is still well with the SZ-20's performance; again no image noise to report though white balance has subtly shifted and there is a warmer look to the image
We're at ISO400, the setting at which noise begins to creep into shadow areas on lesser compacts. Again though we're hard pressed to notice any difference between this setting and ISO200
At ISO800 there's a subtle softening of overall detail which has again kept image noise at bay - with a slightly sandy look creeping into shadow areas, but only on really close inspection
At ISO1600 shadow detail is beginning to take on a speckled appearance - which ironically makes for a slightly sharper looking image than ISO800 under close inspection. In any event we'd be happy to continue shooting at this setting.
The top setting of ISO3200 and as well as a warm look to the shot there's a more obvious smoothing effect as well as a slight colour shift compared with the previous images. Overall though if sticking to ISO1600 or below you won't find much fault in the SZ-20's lower light performance