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Sony MVC-CD250

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MVC-CD250 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 02/20/2002

NOTE - these images were shot with a prototype camera.
I'll update them and this review once I receive a final production unit to test.

 

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait: (848.6 k)

Moderately high resolution, with good detail and color.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the MVC-CD250 did pretty well in that regardThe shot at right was taken with no exposure compensation adjustment at all, which resulted in bright midtones (though with some loss of detail in the highlights). (This is pretty unusual, most digicams require some exposure boost to get this shot right.) I shot with the Auto white balance setting, which produced nearly accurate color. The Daylight setting resulted in a warmer image with a yellow cast. The blue flowers and pants are rather purplish (a typical problem with many digicams on this shot), but skin tones look good, albeit just a tad cool. Resolution is moderately high, with reasonably sharp details. (I'd say just on the low side of average for a two megapixel digicam.) The shadow areas show good detail, though with somewhat elevated noise.

To view the entire exposure series, from zero to +0.3 EV in the Auto and Daylight white balances, see files C25OUTAP0.HTM and C25OUTAM1.HTM and C25OUTDP0.HTM and C25OUTDM1.HTM on our thumbnail index page.

 

 

Closer Portrait: (835.1 k)

Good detail and color, no optical distortion.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of the model's features. The model's face and hair show more detail than in the wider shot, and details are fairly sharp. Image noise is again high in the shadow areas, though the level of detail is good. Color balance is about right, though slightly warm from the Daylight white balance setting, and I'd personally like just a little more saturation in the skin tones. The main shot was taken with a -0.3EV exposure compensation adjustment, leaving bright midtones without losing too much highlight detail.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash: (770.2 k)

High Intensity
Normal Intensity
Low Intensity

Best results at the High flash intensity level.

The CD250's flash managed to illuminate the subject, though overall intensity was rather low with the Low and Normal flash settings. (The flash was apparently tricked into underexposing by the light wall and whtie shirt on the model.) The background incandescent lighting produced an orange cast, which intensified with the Low and Normal settings. I found the best results with the flash in the High intensity setting, which produced the brightest exposure and the least orange cast.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (728.2 k)
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Twilight Mode, Auto White Balance

Good results with Twilight exposure mode and Auto white balance.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellow cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. (I shoot this test because many digicams have trouble with this lighting, but it's a very common light source for amateur photographers.) The CD250's Auto white balance produced surprisingly good results here, though a longer exposure was required for the best color and tone. As is so often the case with digicams, the Incandescent setting resulted in very warm images, much too warm for use. The Auto setting got the color about right, but the image was pretty dark, due to the rather short maximum exposure time in "normal" exposure mode. Once I switched to the Twilight exposure mode and boosted the exposure compensation to +1.7 EV (in the Auto white balance setting), the warm cast dissipated, the tone came up to what it should be, and color really looked very nice. - Just enough of a warm cast to convey the general mood of the original scene. (The Twilight shot at zero exposure compensation was too warm and way too dark.) I'd like to see way less exposure compensation required for a shot like this, but for now will chalk it up to a prototype problem, hopefully to be corrected in the final product. The blue flowers are again a deep purple, a common problem with this shot which compounds the usual digicam problem with this color with a very difficult light source. Skin tones look pretty nice though. Following is an ISO series.

 

ISO Series
Note that all these shots were taken in "normal" exposure mode, rather than "Twilight", as the ISO adjustment isn't available in Twilight mode. All shots were at the camera's maximum 1/30 second shutter speed in normal mode, so only the ISO 400 one comes close to being bright enough.

ISO 100
1/ 30
F/3.8
(732 k)
ISO 200
1/ 30
F/3.8
(847 k)
ISO 400
1/ 30
F/3.8
(899 k)

 

 

 
House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
(865.9 k)

Great resolution and color.

The Auto white balance setting produced accurate color in this shot, while the Daylight setting resulted in a warm, yellow cast. Overall exposure in both shots looks bright, with color a bit washed out. Resolution is moderately high, with a nice level of detail visible in the tree limbs above the roof and in the house trim. The fine foliage details in front of the house have a high contrast, making them appear sharper than they are. Some corner softness is present along the left side of the frame, but only a slight amount in the two right corners. (This particular camera seemed to be a little soft on the lefthand side, perhaps a consequence of its being a prototype model.)

 

 
 

 

Far-Field Test (896.0 k)

Good detail and color, with a limited dynamic range.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The CD250 captures a good level of fine detail throughout the frame, with decent sharpness. Overall performance is about average in terms of sharpness and detail, but could have been improved slightly by using a "tighter" in-camera sharpening. (For critical images, shoot with the sharpness dialed all the way down and apply unsharp masking after the fact in Photoshop.) Fine detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery is just slightly soft, but sharp enough to define the details. The shot is just a tad overexposed, and the camera comes close to losing detail in the strong highlights of the front bay window, but manages to just barely hold on to subtle detail nonetheless. The shadow areas fare slightly better, as the brick pattern above the front door is more distinct. Image noise is moderately high in the shadow areas. The table below shows a shortened version of our standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and sharpness series.

Resolution Series:

Large / Fine
1/ 500
F6.3
(896.0 k)
Medium / Fine
1/ 500
F6.3
(584.6 k)
Small / Fine
1/ 500
F6.3
(150.2 k)

 

ISO Series:

ISO 100
1/ 500
F6.3
(896.2 k)
ISO 200
1/ 500
F9
(900.7 k)
ISO 400
1/ 500
F11
(879.3 k)

 

Sharpness Series:

Soft (-2)
1/ 500
F6.3
(823.6 k)
Normal (0)
1/ 500
F6.3
(901.5 k)
Hard (+2)
1/ 500
F6.3
(880.9 k)

 

 
 

 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, I'm happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, at full 3x telephoto, and at full telephoto with the 2x digital zoom enabled. The CD250's lens covers a range equivalent to a 41-123 mm lens on a 35mm camera, a bit on the "longer" side than typical digcams, which generally come out around 35-105 or so. Following are the results at each zoom setting, all shot at the medium resolution of 1280 x 960 pixels.

 

Wide Angle

1/ 500
F6.3
(579.2 k)

 

3x Telephoto

1/ 500
F6.3
(589.8 k)

 


1/ 500
F6.3
(572.4 k)

 

 
 

 

Musicians Poster (865.3 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Overall good color and detail.

For this shot, the Daylight white balance produced the most accurate overall color. The Auto setting resulted in a somewhat warmer image, probably in response to the large amount of blue in the composition: The whites seemed a bit yellowish, and the skin tones a bit too warm. Though the Daylight setting still resulted in a reddish background and slightly warm color balance, overall color looked best. The Oriental model's blue robe looks about right, though with greenish highlights and purplish shadow areas (this is another tough blue for many digicams to get right). Resolution is moderate, with a reasonable level of detail visible in the embroidery of the blue robe as well as in the flower garland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macro Shot (875.4 k)

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Great macro performance, though the flash has trouble when you get this close.

The CD250 performs very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 1.78 x 1.34 inches (45.3 x 34.0 millimeters). Resolution is high, with sharp details visible on the coins, brooch, and dollar bill. Color and exposure both look good as well. There's a fair bit of softness in the corners and along the left side of the frame, but not apparent on the right side. The CD250's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, overexposing the top portion of the image while underexposing the lower half. (Some of that being caused by the shadow cast by the lens when you get this close.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Davebox" Test Target  (804.2 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good exposure, detail, and color, though with weak saturation.

For this shot, the Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate overall color, while the Daylight setting resulted in a very warm image. The exposure seems just a little bright, but the camera picks up all of the subtle tonal variations of the pastel patches on the Q60 target. The large color blocks are nearly accurate, but saturation looks a little weak (possibly from the overexposure). The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows good detail, though noise is a bit high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low-Light Tests

(Coming Soon!)

 
Flash Range Test

Flash is effective as far as 14 feet, but intensity is a little low overall.

At the Normal intensity setting, the CD250's flash remained effective as far as 14 feet from the test target. Intensity was a bit low, but remained roughly the same throughout the series, decreasing only slightly at the furthest distances. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

 

Distance From:
8ft. 9ft. 10ft. 11ft. 12ft. 13ft. 14ft.
Click to see 
CD25FL08.JPG

CD25FL08
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
815.3 KB

Click to see 
CD25FL09.JPG

CD25FL09
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
743.3 KB

Click to see CD25FL10.JPG

CD25FL10
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
805.6 KB

Click to see CD25FL11.JPG

CD25FL11
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
714.6 KB

Click to see CD25FL12.JPG

CD25FL12
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
721.8 KB

Click to see 
CD25FL13.JPG

CD25FL13
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
727.6 KB

Click to see 
CD25FL14.JPG

CD25FL14
1/ 50 secs
F3.9
ISO: 100
710.1 KB

 

 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (810.4 k)

Good performance, with strong detail to 1,100 lines/picture height.

The CD250 performed well for its class on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 550 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 750-800 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,100 lines.

Optical distortion on the CD250 was just on the high side of average at the wide-angle end, where I measured a 0.85 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared slightly better, showing a 0.35 percent pincushion distortion. (Overall geometric distortion is on the high side of average.) Chromatic aberration is low, showing only about two pixels of very light coloration on either side of the 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.) The most evident distortion I noticed was some slight corner softness in a few shots, strongest on the left side of the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle

Large / Fine
1/ 400
F3.8
810.4 KB
Medium / Fine
1/ 400
F3.8
555.7 KB
Small / Fine
1/ 400
F3.8
145.3 KB

 

Telephoto

Large / Fine
1/ 320
F3.9
813.3 KB

 

Sharpness Series, Wide Angle

Soft (-2)
1/ 400
F3.8
835.6 KB
Normal (0)
1/ 400
F3.8
802.0 KB
Hard (+2)
1/ 400
F3.8
803.9 KB

 

 

 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Almost 100% - very slightly loose.

The CD250's LCD monitor was very slightly loose, showing just a hair of the subject area in the final image than what was originally framed. I couldn't measure the actual accuracy, as the standard measurement lines were just outside the frame in both wide-angle and telephoto images, but it's clear that the finder is very close to 100 percent accuracy. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the CD400 performs very well in that respect. Flash illumination at wide angle is a bit dim overall, with modest falloff at the edges and corners of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even, though intensity is still dim.

 


Wide Angle

1/ 50
F3.8
728.4 KB

Telephoto

1/ 50
F3.9
696.4 KB

 

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