Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F707Wow! 5 megapixels, a super-sharp lens, Hologram AF, NightShot, NightFraming and more! Killer technology, great photos from Sony!
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Cyber-shot DSC-F707 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 08/20/2001 (Full production model update 11/20/2001)
|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!|
|An update note from Dave:
I've now re-tested the F707, with a production-model camera. Essentially all my earlier conclusions and enthusiasm over the camera based on the prototype have been reinforced and validated. Color and white balance on the production model have been improved a good bit, with a more balanced handling of greens (and to a lesser extent reds), and more neutral white balance in almost all cases. Exposure accuracy is somewhat improved, and a good bit better than most cameras I've tested, particularly in the case of the high-key outdoor portrait subject. (I did notice a slight tendency toward overexposure in high-contrast, average-brightness subjects though.) The one slight negative is that the high-ISO noise performance in the production model is about average, not quite as good as I saw in the original prototype model. Other than that, the production 707 delivered superlative results in every respect. Very impressive!
Outdoor Portrait: (2086 k)
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 don't use fill-flash on it. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the F707 performed very well. Interestingly, the F707 required no exposure compensation on this shot, where most cameras need a good 0.7EV or so. - Seems like the 707's exposure meter is more accurate than average with high-key subjects like this. I shot with the Auto (2062 k), Daylight (2111 k), and Manual (2058 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting for the main shot (Auto appeared slightly cool and Manual produced a greenish color balance). Color looks very nice, with very accurate skin tones, and good handling of the difficult blue colors (although with tinges of purple showing in the blues.) The bright red flowers are a bit overdone though, although not quite as much as in the prototype model I tested, and the oversaturation doesn't extend to other shades of red or pink. (Skin tones are very natural.) Resolution is incredible, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the image. Shadow detail is also excellent, with very low noise. Interested readers are referred to the Thumbnail Index page for an exposure compensation series, ranging from 0 to +1.0EV.
Closer Portrait: (2020 k)
The F707 also performs well in this closeup shot. The 5x zoom lens helps prevent any distortion of the model's features. Resolution is incredible, you can almost see Marti's skin cells! (Well, not actually, but the details of her face and hair are super clear and sharp.) Color again looks good, with accurate skin tones. The shadow areas also show great detail, again with low noise. Once again, no positive exposure compensation was needed on this shot. Interested readers are again referred to the Thumbnail Index page for an exposure compensation series, ranging from 0 to +1.0EV.
Portrait, Flash: (1809 k)
Good flash coverage and exposure, needed to have its exposure boosted slightly though.
The F707's built-in flash does a nice job illuminating the subject, and the adjustable intensity settings provide a lot of flexibility. The background incandescent lighting produces a slight orange/yellow cast, somewhat reduced with the High intensity setting. The shots at right were both taken with the flash at the High intensity setting. We chose the Twilight image for our main shot because of the slightly brighter exposure and better color. Color looks good and vibrant, with only slight purple tints in the blue flowers. Following is an exposure series from showing high/normal/low flash levels in Normal and Twilight exposure modes.
We managed to get our hands on a Sony HVL-F1000 external flash unit
just before we had to ship the F707 back to Sony, and so shot the image
shown at the bottom of the table at right. As usual, the external flash
unit does wonders for exposure, color, and generally even illumination.
(The shot at right was taken with the flash bouncing off the ceiling,
with some light diffused toward the model by way of a sheet of paper
held in front of the flash head.) One of the nifty features of the F707
is that its flash metering uses true TTL (Through The Lens) metering.
This means bounce shots like this one are more likely to come out well-exposed
than with cameras using conventional area sensors. TTL metering should
also do a much better job when you're zoomed in on a small subject,
or when your subject and background have very different reflectance
Exposure Compensation Settings, Normal:
Exposure Compensation Settings, Twilight:
Portrait, No Flash: (1873 k)
Excellent handling of a very tough light source
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, and the F707's white balance system handled it very well. While the Incandescent (1867 k) white balance setting produced a somewhat warm cast, the Auto (1879 k) and Manual (1880 k) settings produced more accurate results. We chose the Manual setting because it produced the most accurate color balance (but it must be said that the Auto setting did an exceptionally good job), and selected a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment for our main shot. (The F707 again requiring less exposure compensation than most cameras on this shot.) Overall color is very nice, with only a little purple in the blue flower petals. Saturation also looks good, and resolution is again absolutely outstanding. Interested readers are again referred to the Thumbnail Index page for an exposure compensation series, ranging from 0 to +1.7EV. (The relevant files are those labeled F7INMP0 - F7INMP5.)
The table below holds an ISO series, shot at ISO settings of 100, 200, and 400. High-ISO noise in the production-model camera looks about average: The blue channel has the most noise, followed by red, and even green has some noise visible at ISO 400. ISO 200 is considerably cleaner. Overall, good but not superior noise performance.
House Shot: (2272 k)
Super detail, good color and exposure.
I chose the Auto (2272 k) white balance setting
for the main selection here, as the overall color balance looked the
most natural, though slightly warm. The Daylight
(2258 k) setting was slightly warmer, while the Manual
(2286 k) setting resulted in a blue cast. Resolution looks very high,
with an excellent amount of detail visible throughout the image. Details
are also sharp, even the typically softer details of the front shrubbery.
Color looks very accurate, with good saturation, with none of the overemphasis
on green the prototype showed.. An excellent job! (Really, the F707
is probably hitting the limits of the poster we use here: See the "Far
Field" shot below for more of an acid test.)
|Far-Field Test (2249 k)
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 F707 again picks up a lot of fine detail throughout the frame, with great clarity and sharpness. Even the fine foliage details have clear definition, which is usually a tough area for digicams. The same level of detail and sharpness is maintained from corner to corner, also a very rare feat. The 707 did lose most of the detail in the bright paint on the bay window, but picked up great detail in the shadow area under the porch, with the hanging light and brick pattern clear and distinct (Overall, just a little overexposed on this shot, I'd say.) The table below shows our resolution and quality series, followed by a sharpness series. VERY impressive overall.
The F707's in-camera sharpening seems well-controlled and appropriate. The "hard" setting might be useful for photos printed on lower-quality inkjet printers, while the "soft" option appears to apply essentially no sharpening at all, great for situations where you want to process the images heavily in Photoshop or another image-editing application.
|Lens Zoom Range
Longer than your average zoom - a full 5x optical.
I've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Hence, the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 5x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 2x digital zoom enabled. The F707's lens covers a range equivalent to a 38-190mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
|Musicians Poster (2146 k)
More of the same: Good color, good tone...
For this test, I shot with the Auto (2153 k), Daylight (2146 k), and Manual (2324 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting as the most accurate. The Auto white balance setting produced a slightly warmer image, while the Manual setting resulted in a cool image. Overall color and skin tones look best with the Daylight white balance, though a warm cast is present. Color looks good though, with the Oriental model's blue robe about right. (This is a tough blue for many digicams to get right, and often has a purplish tint.) Resolution is very high, as we've noticed all along, with great detail throughout the frame. Details are so sharp and crisp, we can even see the fine grain pattern in the poster itself.
|Macro Shot (2082 k)
Excellent macro performance!
The F707 captures a very tiny macro area, among the smallest I've seen at 1.68 x 1.26 inches (42.79 x 32.19 millimeters). Resolution is again high, though the sharpest details are in the center of the frame, on the dollar bill. The brooch and coin details are very soft due to a limited depth of field, and the corners are rather soft, doubtless due to curvature of field this close. Color looks accurate, though the close range infringes on the lighting. The F707's flash (1818 k) can't really be used for macro shots, due to the camera's long/wide lens barrel and the very close shooting range.
|"Davebox" Test Target (1874 k)
Really excellent color, great tonal range.
I shot samples of this target using the Auto (1892 k), Daylight (1874 k), and Manual (1881 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting for our main shot. Auto produced very accurate results as well, while the Daylight setting resulted in a slightly warm image. Exposure looks great, as the target shows excellent tonal distribution on the Q60 chart and in the grayscales. Color is excellent as well, with accurate saturation. Shadow details are strong and distinct, with very low noise, though the strongest highlight details are slightly washed out. Overall, an outstanding job, really excellent color.
Amazingly good low-light performance: Great color balance, low noise, and accurate framing & focusing in total darkness!
The F707's full manual exposure control and maximum exposure time of 30 seconds provide the camera with very good low-light capabilities. The F707 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of our test, with good color at all three ISO settings. (The production model's Auto white balance worked much better than the prototype model's did: Color balance is quite good all the way down.) The F707 automatically employs a Noise Reduction system at shutter speeds slower than two seconds, which does an excellent job of keeping noise in check. Even at ISO 400, noise is minimal. Really, an amazingly good job at low light shooting. (And the camera can even focus and frame in total darkness, thanks to its Hologram AF and Night Framing options.) The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
Flash Range Test
A powerful flash, good to at least the 14 foot limit of our test. (Sony states 16.4 foot range with the lens in its wide angle position.)
Sony rates the F707's flash as effective from 1.6 to 16.4 feet (0.5 to 5.0 meters), at the normal intensity setting. In my testing, the flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
|ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1926 k)
The F707 performed very well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart, turning in some of the highest resolution figures we've measured to date. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least1,200 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,650 lines. Wow, that's resolution!
Optical distortion on the F707 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.74 percent barrel distortion. (This is average among cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see much less geometric distortion in digicam images than that.) The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as I measured a 0.55 percent pincushion distortion. The 0.74% barrel at the wide angle end is fairly typical of digicam zooms I've tested, but the 0.55% pincushion is higher than average. (Admittedly most cameras have 3x zooms, so their average 0.3% or lower pincushion perhaps isn't as impressive, but I'd still like to see less pincushion at the F707's telephoto end.) Chromatic aberration is low but noticeable, showing about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines in the corners of the image. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Chromatic aberration looks to be about average relative to other cameras I've tested. Apart from the somewhat high pincushion distortion, the F707's lens is of very high quality.
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
The F707 has a fairly wide range of options for its in-camera sharpening. I found though, that even the "No Sharpening" option still does apply some sharpening to the images, as witness the very slight "halo" around the res target elements. For a camera that produces pro-level results like the F707, we'd really like to see a true "no sharpening" option, to match that on high-end SLRs like the Nikon D1X and Canon D30.
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder.
The F707's electronic "optical" viewfinder is very accurate, showing approximately 98 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor is also very accurate, showing approximately 97 percent of the image area at the wide angle setting, and approximately 98 percent at telephoto. (These variations are likely due to measurement uncertainty: I'm fairly certain that the image coverage is the same, regardless of zoom. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the F707's LCD monitor performs very well here. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is very even as well, with only a hint of falloff.
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