Sony DSC-H9 Review

 
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Sony DSC-H9 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A very generous 15x optical zoom with good performance. Digital zoom also performs quite well.

31mm 465mm 2x Digital Zoom

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9's optical zoom covers the equivalent of a 31-465mm, outstanding among consumer digital cameras, bested only by the Olympus SP-550 UZ. Results were good at wide angle, especially considering its wider-than-average coverage. There was however some noticeable coma distortion and fairly dramatic chromatic aberration in the corners, as can be seen in the tree branches against the sky. Performance at telephoto was also good, though with some corner softness and chromatic aberration still visible. The camera's 2x Precision digital zoom performs quite well.

However, it's important to point out that the H9's over-aggressive anti-noise processing is quite evident in the shadows of the trees, where the transition from sunlit portions to shaded portions are also a transition from detail to blur. The grass in the wide shot also has no detail to speak of, appearing like a soft mat.

Macro
A tiny macro area with good detail and high resolution, though with pronounced chromatic aberration. Too close for flash.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Sony DSC-H9's macro setting performed well, capturing a tiny minimum area of 1.26 x 0.94 inches (32 x 24 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both good, though there's a moderate amount of softening in the corners from the lens as well as some softness throughout the frame. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) Also, the lens is so close to the subject that it can be a challenge getting enough light to shine in around the edges to adequately illuminate the subject. The flash also produced an uneven exposure here, mostly blocked by the lens with a strong overexposure in the top left corner of the frame. Though detail was good, it was heavily marred by chromatic aberration not far from the center, starting at the top and bottom of the numeral 1.

Distortion
Higher than average barrel distortion, very high pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 31mm is 1.1%
Pincushion at 465mm is 0.5%

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). The Sony DSC-H9's 1.1% barrel distortion at wide angle is higher than average, although not really a surprise since the 15x lens is a wider than average 31mm equivalent focal length. At the telephoto end, the DSC-H9's pincushion distortion was very high, at 0.5%. Both had a noticeable effect on some images.

Chromatic aberration
Significant, with noticeable effect on images at edges.

Wide: High and bright
lower left @ 200%
Wide: High and bright,
lower right @ 200%
Tele: Moderate but bright
upper left @200%
Tele: Moderate but bright
upper right @200%

Chromatic aberration is fairly severe at both wide angle and telephoto, showing 12+ pixels of bright coloration on either side of the target lines. The effect is noticeable in many real-world images. (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.)

Corner Sharpness
Slight blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle, moderate at telephoto.

Wide: Slightly soft in the
corners (upper left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Moderately soft in the
corners (lower left)
Tele: Fairly sharp at center.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9 produced slightly soft corners of the frame at full wide angle. At full telephoto, there is stronger blurring in the corners, which is noticeable in some images.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from both the Electronic Viewfinder and LCD monitor.

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

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9's EVF and LCD monitor both showed about 102% coverage accuracy at wide angle, and about 101% at telephoto.

 

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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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