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Sony MVC-CD300

Sony expands its CD-equipped camera line, adding erasability, buffer memory, a 3-megapixel CCD, and a more compact case!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 2/28/2001

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-CD300'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 CD300 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the CD300's white balance system did an excellent job. The daylight white balance setting produced the most accurate results in our outdoor shots, though it resulted in a slightly warm image (the skin tones looked best with daylight, despite the warm cast). The manual setting produced great results in our difficult Indoor Portrait without Flash shot, providing a nice color balance without any color casts from the incandescent lighting. Overall color looked very nice, with great accuracy and saturation in most of our test shots. The large color blocks of our Davebox test target were almost perfectly accurate, and the camera does a very nice job of distinguishing the difference between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (a common problem area for many digicams), even reproducing the black separator line. Tonal handling was also very good, with the variations of the Q60 chart clearly visible up to the "B" range. Red values had a tendency to be a little bright, particularly in the red flowers of the bouquet in the Outdoor and Indoor portraits. Overall though, the CD300 produced very nice color throughout our testing.

Given that it uses the same lens as the DSC-S70 and DSC-S75, it should come as no surprise that the CD300 turned in a really exceptional performance on the resolution test. We "called" the CD300's resolution as 900-950 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and 850-900 in the vertical, with detail visible vertically well beyond 900 lines, and horizontally to well beyond 1000. As with the earlier S70, and S75, the CD300 seems to show resolution beyond what should be theoretically possible, according to the Nyquist theorem and the CCD's pixel count. We attributed this to the camera's excellent suppression of artifacts, both in chrominance (color) and luminance (brightness) domains. There is in fact some aliasing visible beginning around 750 lines vertically (where theory says the limit should be), but it's so well controlled as to be almost invisible. Overall, a really remarkable performance, another triumph for Sony's excellent optics and signal processing.

The CD300 performs very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 2.63 x 1.97 inches (66.78 x 50.09mm). Detail and resolution both look excellent, and color balance is very nice as well. We observed a moderate amount of barrel distortion from the wide angle setting of the lens, as well as a little corner softness (mostly visible in the three pence piece). The gray background shows very low noise. The CD300's built-in flash has some trouble throttling down for the macro area at the closest approach, and the large lens barrel cast a shadow across the lower half of the target. A good performance overall, but plan on using an external flash for real closeup shots.

The CD300 does a great job in the low-light category, as we were able to obtain bright, clear images at light levels as low as 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 magenta casts. 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 CD300'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.

The CD300 delivered an excellent performance throughout our testing, capturing great detail and color and producing good image quality across the board. The CD300's super sharp Carl Zeiss lens produces great clarity and crisp details, and the 3.3 megapixel CCD delivers wonderful resolution. The camera's macro and low light capabilities provide even greater exposure flexibility. After examining all the test images, we have to say we're very pleased with the CD300's performance, and it's clearly in the first rank of three megapixel cameras we've tested to date. (This is being written in late February, 2001.)
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 CD300 (and its little brother, the CD200) eliminates some of the digicam community's 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 CD300'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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