Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P10 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, 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!|
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 shoot it with no fill flash or 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 P10 did a pretty good job.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones slightly, albeit at the expense of some highlight detail. (The shot with 0 EV of adjustment was too dark overall.) I settled on the Daylight white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Auto setting produced similar results.
Overall color is just slightly warm, but skin tones look about right. The blue flowers in the bouquet are a bit dark and purplish, a common problem with this shot. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. In reality, the flowers are a light navy blue, with just a tinge of purple in them.) The bright red flowers of the bouquet look good, with good detail in the highlights. (Many cameras oversaturate these flowers and lose detail in the highlight areas.) Resolution is very high, with excellent detail throughout the frame, even in the shadow areas. Details are quite sharp, and noise in the shadows is low.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files P10OUTDM1.HTM through P10OUTDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Excellent resolution and detail.
Results are similar to the wider shot above, in terms of exposure and color, and the P10's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which results in slightly dark midtones. Resolution is outstanding, with an incredible amount of fine detail visible in Marti's face and hair (probably more than she'd like to see full screen ;-). Detail is also strong in the shadows, with moderately low noise. Contrast is again somewhat high.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files P10FACDM1.HTM through P10FACDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Slightly low intensity at the default setting in normal flash mode, but better results in slow-sync mode.
The P10's built-in flash illuminated the subject well when set to the High intensity setting, though intensity was dim at the Normal and Low settings. The background incandescent lighting results in a strong orange cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features and white shirt slightly. The camera's slow-sync flash mode produces a much brighter image, due to the longer shutter time. I chose the Normal intensity setting, as the High setting produced odd highlights on the white shirt. (Indeed, the highlights are still quite bright even at the Normal setting, as well as at the Low setting.) Light from the flash is more even here, and the incandescent lighting creates a warm, yellow cast.
The shots below show the results of the three different flash intensity settings with each of the flash options I tried (normal and twilight modes):
Very nice color with the Auto white balance.
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 P10's Auto white balance setting did the best job here, with only a slight warm cast. (The Incandescent setting resulted in a much warmer image.) Marti's skin tone is just slightly warm from the color cast, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish (a typical problem with this shot, due to the light source), but the overall "look" of the image is really excellent, nicely duplicating the mood of the original lighting without coming out too yellow. The main shot has a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in a slightly darker image than I'd generally like, but the highlights on Marti's shirt become too bright with increased exposure.
To view the entire exposure series, from zero to +2.0 EV, see files P10INAP0.HTM through P10INAP6.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Great resolution and detail, pretty accurate color too.
For this shot, I chose the P10's Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, although the Daylight setting also produced an acceptable image. Color balance is just slightly greenish with the Auto setting, but still good overall. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs as well as in the shrubbery in front of the house. Details are also pretty sharp, with only a hint of softness in the corners. (Cameras like the P10 are starting to stretch the limits of this poster as a test target. Although the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens, the 5.0-megapixel P10 is close to extracting all the detail that's to be found here.)
Excellent resolution and detail, though a limited dynamic range and slightly oversaturated greens.
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 P10 does an excellent job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, especially in the leaf patterns. In-camera sharpening does a good job here as well, with crisp details throughout the frame, without objectionable "halos." The image is surprisingly sharp throughout the frame, the P10's lens doing a better job in the corners than much of the competition. The camera loses a lot of detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Conversely though, detail is strong in the shadow area above the front door. Overall color with the Auto white balance is slightly cool, the greens of the grass and foliage are somewhat oversaturated, and exposure is just a little bright overall. All things considered though, a good job. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and Effects series.
Lens Zoom Range
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 P10's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera, just slightly biased toward the telephoto end of the range relative to the 35-105mm range that's most common in zoom-equipped digicams. The 38-114mm range corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a reasonable telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Minor color casts, but good detail and resolution.
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. Both the P10's Auto and Daylight settings produced similar images, with slight reddish casts. The Daylight setting had the lesser cast, so I chose it for the main image. The red cast creates purplish tints in the blue background that aren't in the original image, and the shadow areas of the blue robe show purplish tints as well. Resolution is very high, and the P10's 5.0-megapixel CCD is actually capable of capturing a good bit more detail than this poster has in it. (The original data file for this poster was only 20 megabytes.)
An average-size macro area with great detail, but the flash has trouble throttling down.
The P10 did pretty well in the macro category, capturing an average-size minimum area of 3.72 x 2.79 inches (94 x 71 millimeters). However, resolution and detail are excellent, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. There's a lot of softness in the corners on the right side of the frame, and a moderate amount on the left side. (Digicam lenses often have a hard time bringing the entire subject into focus in their macro modes, due to curvature of field when close-focusing. The P10's lens seems to be particularly affected by this phenomena.) The P10's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the shot.
Excellent color with the Auto white balance, good exposure and saturation as well.
The P10's Auto white balance setting did the best job here, with the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. The Daylight white balance setting produced a warmer image, with a yellow cast. The P10 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well, and overall exposure looks good. The large color blocks are accurate and well-saturated. The large red and blue additive primary blocks are just on the verge of being oversaturated, but are still within acceptable limits. Detail is strong in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with low noise.
Good low light performance, usable down to light levels about half as bright as average city street lighting at night.
The P10's low-light shooting setup is a little odd, in that the longest shutter time of 2 seconds is only available in Twilight scene mode, but that mode leaves the ISO fixed at 100, with no option for user intervention. In normal shooting mode, you can adjust the ISO as high as 400, but the maximum shutter time is only one second. The net result is that the P10 actually produces the brightest low-light shots in normal mode, with the ISO set to 400, although noise levels will be lower in Twilight mode. Still, it's a very credible performer, producing good-looking images at light levels of a half a foot-candle or slightly below. - And your photos will be well-focused too, thanks to a bright AF-assist illuminator LED on the camera's front panel, that can be enabled or disabled by the user. 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.
Flash Range Test
Nearly constant intensity all the way to 14 feet from the test target.
In my testing, the P10's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, with only a very slight decrease in intensity. Looking at the data in the EXIF file headers reveals its secret though: The P10 boosts its ISO to 250 for flash shots in dark surroundings. This increases the range quite a bit relative to what it would be at ISO 100, but at the expense of higher image noise. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
Very high resolution, 1,300 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle, though.
The P10 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,100 lines per picture height in the vertical direction, and around 800 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,400-1,450 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,700 lines.
Optical distortion on the P10 is high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.0 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared somewhat better, as I found 0.3 percent barrel distortion. (Many digicams show about 0.8% barrel distortion at their wide-angle setting, still too high IMHO. At telephoto, the range seems to be from zero to a few tenths of a percent pincushion distortion.) Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three or four pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor.
The P10's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 81 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, showing about 99 percent of the final frame at both lens settings. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the P10's LCD monitor performs well here. Flash distribution is even in the center of the frame at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.
P10 Test Images
P10 "Picky Details"
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3 Canon PIXMA MG5420