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Epson L-500V review: Epson L-500V

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The zoom control takes about a second to travel the full 3X distance. It proved to be both smooth and responsive, if a little noisy. The zoom lens freezes in position when shooting video, so you won't have to worry about the noise interfering with your video captures. The video resolutions are 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120, all at 30fps and all with excessive compression artifacts.

We found the focus to be quick but not always accurate in low light. Sometimes in low light, the focus would pass through the perfect setting while finding focus, yet settle on a setting that was less than perfect. Many of our nighttime shots were well illuminated by the flash but considerably fuzzy because of the camera's inability to focus properly in low light.

The LCD screen didn't perform particularly well in bright sunlight. Epson provides an outdoor setting (you toggle the joystick up) that simultaneously boosts the brightness and lowers the contrast. With the outdoor setting engaged, the screen held up much better in direct sunlight.

Based on the preview of your photos on the high-resolution LCD, you may have unrealistically high expectations for their quality when displayed on a computer monitor or when printed. Our ISO 100 photos were essentially noise-free, and our ISA 400 photos exhibited noise levels that were acceptable, considering the trade-off in being able to capture images in lower levels of light. And the camera's exposure metering also worked well.

But our highest-resolution shots were not as sharp as we've seen from other 5-megapixel models. The Epson L-500V's image colors were a bit too warm indoors and a bit too cool outside, and we noticed demosaicing errors in the form of yellow stripes in white expanses and false colors on narrow, high-contrast edges.

A further disappointment, we saw poor results in low light. In a darkened room lit by a single lamp, many of our photos were severely out of focus. If you need to capture a romantic candlelit dinner for two, plan on bringing a backup camera.

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