Photos are at their best at ISO 64 and 100 with very good detail and the least amount of visible noise at 100 percent. At ISO 200, photos viewed full size have noticeable noise and softening from noise reduction, but overall detail is still very good. Noise increases quite a bit at ISO 400, but the reduction isn't too heavy so you still get good enough detail for small prints. The last two full-resolution sensitivities--ISO 800 and 1,600--aren't good for much, as photos get hazy and soft along with very noisy and colors turn flat. Overall, photo quality is good outdoors, mediocre indoors, and poor in low light. In other words, it's average for its class.
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The S1500 is at its sharpest in the Macro and Super Macro modes. Shooting at ISO 64 or 100 will produce very nice, detailed images with little to no noise.
3 of 6 Joshua Goldman/CNET
While this photo taken at ISO 400 looks fine when printed at 4x6 inches, viewing it at 100 percent reveals reduced detail in the flower and salt-and-pepper noise on the green leaves.
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The S1500 displays a typical amount of barrel distortion at its widest position (top), but no pincushioning at its longest setting. Also, there was little to no purple fringing in test shots.
5 of 6 Joshua Goldman/CNET
Though the flexibility of the lens isn't as extreme as other megazoom models, the S1500 will get you considerably closer and the image stabilization is still effective. On the left is a shot of the Empire State Building at the lens's 33mm-equivalent widest, while the right is fully zoomed in to 396mm-equivalent position.
6 of 6 Joshua Goldman/CNET
The S1500 produces brilliant colors at ISO 400 and below. They were not terribly natural or accurate, however.