Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Sony Digital Cameras > Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F88

Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-F88 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, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!

 

"Sunlit" Portrait:
(This is my new "Outdoor" Portrait test - read more about it here.)

Good color and saturation. High resolution, and good exposure accuracy as well. Problems with autofocus though.

This image simulates the harsh contrast (as well as the color balance) of outdoor sunlight. 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 or a 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 DSC-F88 performed pretty well, although it did still lose detail in the brightest highlights.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produced reasonably bright midtones and lost only a small amount of highlight detail. The Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate overall color here, as the Daylight setting was quite warm.

Skin tones are good, and color in the flowers is quite good as well, with the blue flowers only slightly darker than in real life. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, which is actually a light navy blue with slight purple tints in it.) The strong red flowers are a little hot, but this seems to be a pretty common response among the digicams I test, as these hues are apparently at or slightly beyond the limits of the sRGB color gamut. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the flower bouquet. Detail in the shadows is OK, if not spectacular, with a moderately high level of image noise.

The biggest problem with this shot was that the F88's autofocus system appeared to be focusing somewhat in front of the subject here, with the result that Marti's features kept coming out blurry. I managed to get somewhat sharp photos by framing on Marti's face, half-pressing and holding the shutter button to set focus, and then reframing to snap the actual photos. This was apparently a problem with the specific camera I was testing, perhaps due to shipping damage to its optics. - I'll try to get a replacement unit from Sony to retest, and will remove this comment if the replacement unit doesn't show the problem.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files F88OUT2AM1.HTM through F88OUT2AP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


Saturation Series:
The F88's color saturation adjustment has a good range of control, although I'd personally prefer a bit more subtle steps, or better yet, more steps covering the same range.
Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
Overall, the F88's contrast is higher than I like to see. Its contrast adjustment helps with harsh lighting like this, but really doesn't go far enough in the low contrast direction. On the positive side though, cutting contrast leaves color saturation about where it should be, something not all cameras manage to do.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Great resolution and detail, with a pretty good exposure.

Exposure and color are similar to the wider shot above, with good midtone detail and highlights. The shot at right was taken with no exposure compensation adjustment, and the exposure is pretty much dead on. The DSC-F88's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features, an important consideration in close-up portraits like this. Detail and resolution are much higher here, with great definition in the details of Marti's face and hair.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files F88FAC2AM1.HTM through F88FAC2AP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
High Intensity
Slow-Sync Flash
High Intensity

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash at the high intensity setting, with good color as well.

The DSC-F88's built-in flash underexposed this shot slightly at its default setting, although its coverage was still pretty good. I found the best exposure with the flash intensity set to High, though the highlights on the white shirt were close to being blown out. Color is very good, even in the very difficult blue flowers of the bouquet. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, again choosing the High intensity setting as the best overall. Exposure is a bit brighter in this mode, due to the longer shutter time. However, the longer exposure allows more of the background incandescent lighting into the image, producing a strong orange cast.

Flash Intensity Series, Normal Mode:

Intensity Series
Low
Normal
High


Flash Intensity Series, Slow-Sync Mode:

Intensity Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Overly warm color with both white balance settings, but slightly better than average exposure accuracy.

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. The DSC-F88's Auto and Incandescent white balance settings both produced warm color balances here, but I chose the Incandescent as the most pleasing overall. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is slightly lower than average for this shot. The highlights in Marti's shirt are close to being blown out, but I felt that any less exposure boost resulted in photos that were too dark overall. Although the overall color balance is pretty warm, skin tones still look good. The color saturation is pretty good as well, though the red flowers in the bouquet are oversaturated quite a bit.

ISO Series:
There's some noise visible in this shot, even at ISO 100, but noise levels increase relatively slowly, and even at ISO 400, the image noise is within what I would consider to be the acceptable range. ("Acceptable" will depend a lot on your own personal tastes though, so check the photo to see what you think of it yourself.)

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

High resolution and a lot of fine detail, with accurate color.

The DSC-F88's Auto white balance setting produced very nice results here, with an accurate white value on the house trim and good overall color. The Daylight setting resulted in a warmer cast, though not too strong of one. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs and front shrubbery. (The DSC-F88's 5.1-megapixel CCD stretches the limits of this poster as a test target. Even though the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens, the DSC-F88 is close to extracting all the detail that's to be found here.) Details are also fairly sharp throughout the center of the frame, though the corners are slightly soft.



 

Far-Field Test

High resolution and strong detail, but a slight overexposure limits the 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 DSC-F88 did pretty well with it, albeit not up to the level of the best full-sized 5-megapixel cameras on the market. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, with good definition in the leaf patterns, although some of the fine leaf patterns in the bush to the right of the bay window have a rather blocky appearance. There's some softness in the top corners of the frame, and some lens flare evident throughout. A slight overexposure at its default exposure setting caused the camera to lose all of the fine detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams, but detail in the shadow area above the front door was a little limited as well. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and picture effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
F88FAR2592F
F88FAR2592N
2,048 x 1,536
F88FAR2048
-
1,280 x 960
F88FAR1280
-
640 x 480
F88FAR0640
-


ISO Series:
As in the indoor photos above, while some image noise is visible even at ISO 100, the F88 shows surprisingly little (for a 5-megapixel camera) image noise at ISO 400.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:
The F88's internal image sharpening works well and covers a useful range. The "Low" setting produces images that take unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) very well, while the "High" setting produces a degree of sharpening that should work well for small-format inkjet prints. The "Normal" setting strikes a good balance between the two, crispening things up , but not losing too much fine detail to the sharpening process.

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High


Saturation Series:
A good range of saturation adjustment, photographically useful. (That is, not too extreme at either end of its range.)

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
Good contrast adjustment too, although I'd really like to see the range extend further in the low-contrast direction, perhaps by adding another step of similar size to the low end of the scale.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Picture Effects Series:

Picture Effects Series
Black and White

Sepia




 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

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 DSC-F88's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
2x Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slightly red color balance, but good resolution and detail.

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 The F88 did quite a bit better than average in this respect though, leaving only a slight reddish tint in its images. I chose the Daylight white balance setting for the main shot, as the skin tones seemed slightly more natural than those of the Auto setting. The slight reddish color cast in the image produces purplish tints in the blue background, as well as in the deep shadows of the blue robe. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the embroidery of the blue robe and on the red vest. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the DSC-F88 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash
Magnifying Glass
Mode
Magnifying Glass
Mode
(Shot of a CRT face)
Magnifying Glass
Mode

A small macro area with good detail in the dollar bill. The flash throttles down pretty well, but is off-center for the closest shots. Amazing macro performance in "Magnifying Glass" mode.

The DSC-F88 performed pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.34 x 1.75 inches (59 x 45 millimeters). Resolution is very high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Corner softness is strong in the two upper corners of the frame. The DSC-F88's flash throttled down quite well for the macro area, fooled by the direct reflection from the brooch into underexposing the image slightly overall. A bigger issue is that the flash is a bit too far to one side of the lens to provide even illumination for the very closest photos. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest shots.)

While its performance in normal macro mode is impressive enough, in the special "Magnifying Glass" mode (accessed in Scene mode via the Scene menu) is nothing short of astonishing. Sony doesn't seem to tout this as a picture-taking mode, the manual instead talking about the amount of magnification produced on the LCD screen, thereby suggesting that the camera acutally be used as an "electronic magnifying glass." You can in fact snap photos in this mode, although it's hard to measure the maximum magnification, because the camera will literally focus on objects pressed directly against the front of the lens housing. - This makes lighting tough, unless you're shooting a transparent object with a light source behind it (see the images of the CRT screen and light bulb at right. In this mode, the minimum coverage area is an amazing 0.47 x 0.63 inches (12 x 16 mm). A lot of fun, to be sure, but lighting will definitely be an issue at the closest distances.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

A slight underexposure, but good color overall.

The DSC-F88's Auto white balance setting did the best job here, despite a slightly cool cast. The Daylight setting resulted in a warm cast. The image here is slightly underexposed at the F88's default exposure setting, but that makes it easy for the camera to distinguish the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. Though slightly dim, colors are quite accurate, with the exception of the red swatch, which appears to be outside the sRGB color gamut anyway. The F88's color is slightly oversaturated, but within a range that's pleasing and popular with most consumers. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows surprisingly good detail, with a moderate noise level.


The results in the tests below mirror those seen above in other test shots. The test series are repeated here without accompanying comments, for the benefit of quantitatively-oriented readers.


Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Picture Effects Series:

Picture Effects Series
Black and White

Sepia




 

Low-Light Tests

Surprisingly good low-light performance, with good color, focusing, and exposure, even at very low light levels.

With a maximum exposure time of 30 seconds, the DSC-F88 is well-equipped for low-light shooting. The camera produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all four ISO settings. (Actually, the shot is slightly dim at the 1/16 foot-candle setting at ISO 100, though you could arguably still use the image.) Image noise is low at ISOs 100 and 200, though it became quite visible at ISO 400. Still, results are better than average even at ISO 400. 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.

(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
100
Click to see F88LL1003.JPG
4 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL1004.JPG
8 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL1005.JPG
20 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL1006.JPG
30 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL1007.JPG
30 sec
f3.5
ISO
200
Click to see F88LL2003.JPG
2.5 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL2004.JPG
5 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL2005.JPG
13 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL2006.JPG
20 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL2007.JPG
30 sec
f3.5
ISO
400
Click to see F88LL4003.JPG
1.6 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL4004.JPG
2.5 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL4005.JPG
7 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL4006.JPG
13 sec
f3.5
Click to see F88LL4007.JPG
25 sec
f3.5



 

Flash Range Test

A somewhat underpowered flash, with decreasing intensity at each additional foot of distance.

In my testing, the DSC-F88's flash was weak at the eight foot shooting distance, and continued to decrease in intensity from that point on. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see F88FL08.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100
Click to see F88FL09.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100
Click to see F88FL10.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100
Click to see F88FL11.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100
Click to see F88FL12.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100
Click to see F88FL13.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100
Click to see F88FL14.JPG
1/40 sec
f4.2
ISO 100



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,300 lines of "strong detail." Higher than average barrel and pincushion distortion.

The DSC-F88 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 lines per picture height vertically, and about 800 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,300 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,500 lines.

Optical distortion on the DSC-F88 is high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.14 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better, as I measured a 0.61 percent pincushion distortion. Both distortion numbers are higher than average, as most cameras with 3x zoom lenses manage about 0.8 percent barrel and 0-0.3 percent pincushion. Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about two or three pixels of very faint coloration on either side of the target lines..

Resolution Series, ~50mm equivalent
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
F88RES2592F
F88RES2592N
2,048 x 1,536
F88RES2048
-
1,280 x 960
F88RES1280
-
640 x 480
F88RES0640
-


 

Resolution Test, Zoom Series
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Wide Angle)
F88RESW
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Tele)
F88REST


 

Sharpness Series
Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but nearly accurate LCD monitor.

The DSC-F88's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing only about 78 percent of the final frame area at wide angle, and about 84 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, though the bottom lines of measurement were cut off and I couldn't measure the accuracy exactly. Still, frame accuracy was quite close to 100 percent, which is generally where I prefer LCD monitors to be. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is still a little uneven, with falloff in the corners of the frame.




DSC-F88 Review
DSC-F88 Test Images
DSC-F88 Specifications
DSC-F88 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F88, or add comments of your own!


Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate