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Sony Mavica CD200

Sony expands its CD-equipped camera line, adding erasability, buffer memory, and a more compact case!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 3/9/2001

Test Results

In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings: For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the MVC-CD200's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the CD200 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the CD200's white balance system produced very nice results. We shot with the manual white balance setting during most of our testing, which produced excellent color, even under the tough incandescent lighting of our Indoor Portrait test. Our Musicians poster did trick the camera somewhat, with the overwhelming amount of blue in the image resulting in very cool or warm results. Still, overall color looked pretty good, with reasonable accuracy and saturation in most of our test shots. The large color blocks of our Davebox test target appeared well saturated (though the cyan block appeared somewhat weak), and the camera adeptly distinguishes between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (which is a common problem area for many digicams), clearly reproducing the black separator line. Tonal handling was also nice, with the variations of the Q60 chart visible up to the "B" range, though somewhat faint. All things considered, the CD200 provides very good color accuracy and balance.

In our laboratory resolution test, the CD200 shows very clean results out to roughly 600-650 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. Aliasing begins somewhere just past 600 lines, but detail is clearly visible out to 800 lines in both directions. Overall, a very good performance for a two megapixel camera, although the images lack the incredible crispness of the Zeiss lens on its "big brother", the CD300. (The same Zeiss lens is also used on the CyberShot DSC-S75 model.)

Optical distortion from the CD200's lens is moderately high at the wide angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.63 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as we measured an approximate 0.42 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about a two pixels of coloration on each side of the black target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

We found the CD200's LCD monitor to be very accurate, showing approximately 99.6 percent accuracy at wide angle (99.37 percent at the 640 x 480 setting). We couldn't measure the telephoto images, as our standard lines of measurement were just out of the field of view, making the LCD monitor a little "loose" at the telephoto setting, although still very close to 100% accuracy. Since we normally prefer to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the CD200 does a great job in this respect.

The CD200 performs nicely in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 2.38 x 1.78 inches (60.38 x 45.28mm), better than average. Detail and resolution both look great, with nice color balance throughout the image. We caught a moderate amount of barrel distortion from the wide angle setting of the lens, and a little corner softness (mostly visible in the top corners). The gray background shows very little noise. The CD200's built-in flash has some trouble throttling down for the macro area, due to the close proximity of the camera, creating a hot spot in the top half of the image, and a darker shadow area in the lower half.

The CD200 does a great job in the low-light category, as we were able to obtain bright, clear images at light levels all the way down to the limits of our testing, at 1/16 of a foot-candle (2.7 lux), at the ISO 200 and 400 settings. At ISO 100, the image was reasonably bright and clear at 1/8 of a foot-candle (5.5 lux). Images were usable as low as 1/16 of a foot-candle (0.67 lux) at all three ISO settings, though with slight color casts between 1/4 and 1/16 foot-candles. Noise level was highest, but still only moderate, with the ISO 400 images, with moderately low levels at the other two ISO settings. To put the CD200's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, so the camera should be able to handle most dark shooting situations.

Overall, we were pleased with the CD200's performance, as the camera's white balance system seems able to tackle just about any lighting situation. The camera produces nice color and image quality, with good resolution and clarity. The ability to focus on a fairly small macro area is a definite plus, as is the camera's great low light capability. Other than a (very) minor gripe that the LCD monitor seemed just slightly "tight" on our telephoto shots, we can find very little to complain about in this 2 megapixel camera.

Conclusion

Last year the Mavica MVC-CD1000 made waves as the first CD-based digital camera on the market. The large amount of inexpensive storage provided by its CD-R drive made it ideal for extended photo excursions, while preserving the trademark "universal media" appeal of the Mavica line. With the addition of CD-RW capability, this year's CD200 (and its big brother, the CD300) eliminates some of the perceived limitations to the CD Recordable technology. Other improvements include higher resolution (in the CD300 model), a greatly improved user interface, and buffer memory to greatly reduce the shot-to-shot cycle time. In the process, Sony has also significantly reduced the cost of entry into CD-based digital photography. With the CD200's increased capabilities and decreased cost and size, we predict it will be a popular model for the 2001 summer vacation season. Highly recommended!

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