Check out an examination of the photo quality from the 12-megapixel Samsung HZ15W, a compact camera with a 24mm-equivalent wide-angle lens and 10x zoom.
The photo quality from the HZ15W is fairly mediocre--good for Web use, 4x6-inch prints, and maybe the occasional 8x10. Like a lot of point-and-shoot cameras, the results are at their best when using ISOs below ISO 200. Above that mark and you'll end up with noise/artifacts and a significant loss of detail, sharpness, and color accuracy.
This is taken at ISO 80 as well in the HZ15W's Smart Auto mode. Detail and sharpness aren't good and it generally looks overprocessed. This is viewed at 100 percent, though, so the results will probably be satisfactory for Web use and small prints.
However, the amount of chromatic aberration in my test shots was well above normal, and the purple/blue fringing not only made frequent appearances but was visible even when pictures were viewed at small sizes.
The biggest selling point for the HZ15W is the lens. On the left is at its 24mm-equivalent widest and on the right is with the camera at the 240mm-equivalent long end. In the photo on the right, when viewed at 100 percent, you can make out people on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, which is pretty cool.
There's nearly no barrel distortion at the camera's widest lens position (top), maybe just a touch on the left side. More noticeable (but barely) is some pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended.