Once I had settled on the best file type to use, the next consideration was which apertures gave what quality at which focal lengths. Some preliminary tests show that the default apertures of the P and Auto modes do not do the camera justice. Obviously the gnomes who designed the software for the C-730 decided that camera shake was the biggest problem so opted for practically always using the most open apertures available at all focal lengths. This gives nice fast shutter times but leaves a lot to be desired in optical performance.
As stated above, tests are still in progress, but early evidence points to the following results....
At 38mm equivalent f/5.6 seems to be the best quality, but there's not a lot of difference in the images inspected except for depth of field improving with smaller apertures. Sample images later.
At around 150 to 200mm equivalent around f/6.3 seems to be best quality and quality differences between different apertures are more pronounced. Sample images later.
At 380mm equivalent f/8 is clearly the best performer and it is very obvious how bad the more open apertures are. The trouble with using f/8 is of course that the shutter times get a bit long so a decent tripod may be needed.
For a decent all-round perfromance, it's probably best to leave the camera set on f/6.3, but go to f/8 for max tele shots if the available light will give decent shutter times. Of course, you need to set the camera to aperture priority mode to do this.
f/5 f/6.3 f/8
It's pretty obvious that f/8 is the best, but these tests need to be re-done including the full range of apertures plus checking to see if the manual focus and the auto focus will do the right thing every time.
More samples later when I have more time to re-do all the tests more carefully.