Sony MVC-CD350Sony updates its CD-based digicam line with a new 3 megapixel model.
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CD-350 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 06/18/2003
Digital Cameras - Sony Mavica MVC-CD350 Test Images
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the 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: |
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, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the CD350 performed pretty well, but its default contrast was pretty high.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which did a pretty good job of holding onto detail in the bright highlights, but produced rather dark midtones. (The shot with +0.7EV of compensation did the opposite, producing decent midtones, but losing too much highlight detail for my taste.) I chose the Daylight white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Auto setting also produced a good image (just slightly more magenta in comparison).
Skin tones are a bit pink, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are slightly dark. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right, and the CD350 does produce slight purplish tints in the darker areas of the petals. To the eye, the flowers are actually a light navy blue with just a bit of purple to them.) The CD350 handled the strong reds and greens in the image quite well, and managed not to oversaturate the highlights of the red flowers too strongly. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Detail is moderate in the shadows, with low noise. Overall, a good performance, but I'd really like to see lower default contrast.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files CD35OUTDP0.HTM
through CD35OUTDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index
High resolution with well-defined details.
Just like the wider shot above, the CD350 required slightly more exposure compensation to get the best midtones, despite a loss of detail in the brighter highlights. For this shot, I chose an exposure compensation adjustment of +0.7 EV. The CD350's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features, important in closeup shots like this. Resolution is higher in this shot, with great detail in Marti's face and hair. The shadow areas also show good detail, with low noise.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files CD35FACDM1.HTM through CD35FACDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Best results with the High intensity setting, in both normal and slow-sync flash modes.
The CD350's built-in flash produced the best exposure at the High intensity setting, and illuminated the subject well. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange-magenta cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features. The camera's slow-sync flash mode produces a much brighter image, due to the longer exposure time. I again chose the High intensity setting, though the Normal and Low settings also produced good exposures. The exposure is more even here, though the highlights on Marti's shirt are blown out in places. The incandescent lighting produces a yellow color cast as well.
The shots below show the results of the three different flash intensity settings with each of the available flash options (normal and twilight modes):
A little too warm-toned, but not bad.
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. Both the CD350's Auto and Incandescent white balance settings resulted in warm images, with the Auto setting producing the lesser cast. Marti's skin tone is warm from the color cast, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish. The main shot has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in slightly hot highlights on the white shirt, but any less adjustment produced an image that was too dark.
Great resolution and detail, with accurate color as well.
The CD350's Auto white balance produced the most accurate white value on the house trim, though the Daylight setting looked pretty good too (just a hint warm). Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs and shrubbery. In-camera sharpening does a pretty good job here, as details are fairly sharp throughout the frame. Corner softness is scarcely visible in the very extreme corners of the frame. Overall, a good job.
Good resolution and detail, with a moderate 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, and the CD350 performed well. Detail is fairly strong in the tree limbs over the roof as well as in the fine foliage in front of the house. Definition is good in the leaf patterns, and details are reasonably sharp. There's a bit of softness in the corners on the left side of the frame, and just a tad on the right. The camera had some trouble with the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, where the bright sunlight causes many digicams to lose detail. The shadow area above the front door shows moderate detail, however. Overall color looks good, although the image is just slightly overexposed. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and Effects series.
Lens Zoom Range
A typical 3x zoom range, somewhat favoring the telephoto end.
I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The CD350's lens is equivalent to a 41-123mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto, a bit shifted toward the telephoto end relative to the 35-105mm range that's most common in digicams. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Good overall color, albeit a bit warm-toned, with the Daylight setting, and good resolution.
This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. In the case of the 350 though, it went a bit in the other direction, tending more toward cool tones with the Auto setting. Though the overall color balance is slightly warm, I preferred the skin tones in the Daylight white balance setting over the cooler cast of the Auto setting. The warmer cast creates purplish tints in the blue background that aren't in the original image. The shadow areas of the blue robe are also slightly purplish, but the effect isn't strong. Resolution is high, with good detail in the embroidery of the blue robe, as well as in the violin strings and the flower garland.
A tiny macro area with great detail, though the flash has trouble up close.
The CD350 did exceptionally well in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 2.08 x 1.56 inches (53 x 40 millimeters). Resolution is high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. There's quite a bit of softness in the corners along the left side of the frame, and a moderate amount on the right side (a common failing of digicam lenses in ultra-macro shots, most likely caused by the optical phenomena called "curvature of field") Color balance is slightly magenta from the Auto white balance. The CD350's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the shot. - Plan on using external lighting for super close-ups.
Great color with the Auto white balance. Saturation and exposure are both also just right.
The CD350's Auto white balance produced the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. The Daylight white balance wasn't too far off, just a bit warm and yellow. Exposure looks good, and the CD350 has no trouble with the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are accurate and well-saturated, though the large red and blue blocks are on the verge of becoming oversaturated. Detail is moderate in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with low noise, and the last two steps of the vertical grayscales are just visible. An excellent performance.
Just sensitive enough for average city street lighting at night.
The CD350 has a maximum exposure time of only two second in its Twilight exposure mode, and a maximum time of 1 second in normal exposure mode. Thus, the camera's low-light shooting capabilities are somewhat limited. The CD350 produced bright images only as low as 1/2 foot-candles (5.5 lux), at the ISO 400 setting. At ISO 100 and 200, images were only bright as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), which is equivalent to average city street lighting at night. In Twilight mode, the longer exposure time is a help, but ISO is limited to 100, with the result that images were bright only to one foot-candle in this mode as well. Color is a bit warm from the Auto white balance, but becomes cooler and bluish as the images get darker. As you might expect, noise is moderately low with the 100 ISO setting, but increases with increased ISO sensitivity. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
Flash Range Test
A little dim, but nearly even intensity all the way to 14 feet from the test target.
In my testing, the CD350's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, with only a slight decrease in intensity. Like many other consumer-level digicams though, the CD350 "cheats" slightly by boosting its ISO setting when the flash is used in dark surroundings. This produces a greater flash range at the cost of slightly higher image noise. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
Very high resolution, 1,050 lines of "strong detail." Moderately high barrel and pincushion distortion.
The CD350 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height in the vertical direction, and around 600 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,050 lines vertically, and about 1,100 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines.
Optical distortion on the CD350 is moderately high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, as I measured a 0.6 percent pincushion distortion there, but both values are higher than average among 3x zoom cameras I've tested. (Most 3x zooms show about 0.8% barrel at wide-angle (still too much IMHO), and between 0 and 0.3% pincushion at telephoto.) The image is quite sharp from corner to corner though, with only a little coma showing in the right hand corners, and very little chromatic aberration as well. (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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor.
The CD350's LCD monitor is very accurate, showing just about 100 percent of the final frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the CD350's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in that regard. Flash distribution is dim but fairly even at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.