For its price and features, the JZ500's photos are pretty good, but there is room for improvement. Even at this camera's lowest ISO settings, photos just aren't very sharp so subjects look a little soft and smeary. This means even in bright lighting, fine-quality prints larger than 8x10 inches might be difficult. However, the quality doesn't really drop off until ISO 800 and the Auto ISO is conservative, too, giving you a good chance of getting a sharper photo when shooting indoors when shooting fully automatic. This also means you're going to be better off not holding the camera and using the 2-second timer for lower-light photos or when using the zoom lens. At the camera's higher ISOs, colors are dull and washed out, and subjects take on a painterly appearance from noise reduction.
The JZ500 has an ISO 3,200 setting for low-light shooting. Photos are limited to a maximum resolution of 3 megapixels, which is typical for its class. This is a 100-percent crop of the inset photo taken at ISO 3,200 with the lens fully extended. The results are noisy with flat color and soft, smeary details. This is fairly standard for a compact camera, though, and if you're just after a shot to share online or make a small print, the results are satisfactory.
Regardless of its shooting modes, the main attraction is the wide-angle lens with a 10x zoom packed into a body that easily slips into a pocket. Add in the JZ500's 14-megapixel resolution and you can crop in even closer on your subject (though you likely won't be thrilled with the results).
The lens exhibits a little barrel distortion at its widest position (top) and a barely perceivable amount of pincushion distortion when the it's fully extended (bottom). Center sharpness is good, but it noticeably softens out to the sides, especially in the corners.
Color performance from the JZ500 is good; they're fairly accurate and natural looking, if a little washed out. Highlights tend to blow out on compact cameras and this model is no different. However, it does lean toward underexposing with subjects in tricky lighting, which is more easily remedied. The auto white balance is a little warm indoors but is overall very good.