Sony DSC-H50 Review

 
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Sony H50 Optics


Lens

Zoom
An impressive 15x optical zoom range, with good overall performance. Excellent results from the Precision Digital Zoom.

31mm 465mm 2x Precision Digital Zoom

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50's optical zoom range covers the equivalent of a 31-465mm zoom on a 35mm camera, for a total of 15x optical zoom. This is definitely an impressive offering among consumer digital cameras. Details are reasonably sharp at full wide angle, though a fair amount of blurring is visible on the sides and corners of the frame, as well as some coma distortion and chromatic aberration. Results at full telephoto are also good, though again with some blurring and some noticeable chromatic aberration. The camera's 2x Precision Digital Zoom did an excellent job of preserving fine detail while digitally enlarging the image.

Macro
A tiny macro area with good detail and high resolution, though noticeable distortion. Flash exposure is uneven, but passable.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50's macro setting performed well, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 1.27 x 0.96 inches (32 x 24 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both very good at the center of the frame, though there's a fair amount of softening in the corners from the lens. Additionally, there's noticeable coma distortion and some barrel distortion from the wide angle lens setting. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode, and it's not uncommon to see chromatic aberration here either.) Because of the close focal distance, lighting is quite uneven with the external light source. The Sony H50's flash, though not overly bright, almost produced more even lighting than the external light, due to bounce from the gray background of the target (note the bright white in the upper left corner from the true blast of the flash). Thus, lighting might be tricky with the DSC-H50's closest macro shots, but results may be better with slightly more distance or when shooting outdoors.

Distortion
Very high barrel distortion, and fairly high pincushion as well.

Barrel distortion at 31mm is 1.2%
Pincushion at 465mm is 0.4%

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50's 1.2% barrel distortion at wide angle is very high, and quite obvious in its wide angle images. At the telephoto end, the DSC-H50's 0.4% pincushion distortion is also higher than average, and again noticeable in some images. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic aberration
High and bright at both zoom settings, quite noticeable in the DSC-H50's images.

Wide: High and bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: High and bright,
top left @200%
Tele: High and bright,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is high at both the Sony H50's wide angle and telephoto lens settings, showing about 15-16 pixels of bright coloration on each side of the target lines. At both zoom settings, blurring in the corners is likely intensifying the effect by increasing the number of pixels. However, the brightness of pixels is what really draws attention. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) This distortion is visible in many of the DSC-H50's images.

Corner Sharpness
Slight blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle and telephoto, compared to center.

Wide: Slightly soft in the
corners (lower left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Softer in the
corners (lower left).
Tele: Sharp at center.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 produced soft corners of the frame at full wide angle and telephoto lens settings. At full telephoto, blurring was slightly stronger. Blurring is noticeable in several of the DSC-H50's images, though it seems the primary cause is noise suppression.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor.

31mm eq., EVF 465mm eq., EVF
31mm eq., LCD 465mm eq., LCD

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50's EVF and LCD monitor both showed about 104% coverage accuracy at wide angle, and about 98% at telephoto. Slightly loose at the wide angle end, but still good results overall.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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