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!|
(This is my new "Outdoor" Portrait test - read more about it here.)
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.
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:
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:
Flash Intensity Series, Slow-Sync Mode:
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
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.
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.
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.
Picture Effects Series:
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.
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.)
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
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.
Picture Effects Series:
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.)
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.
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
Resolution Test, Zoom Series
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 Test Images
DSC-F88 "Picky Details"
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