Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Sony Digital Cameras > Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P2

Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P2 Test Images

(Original test posting: 09/18/02)

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our 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, I'm posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Good resolution and detail, with pretty good color.

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. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the DSC-P2 did a good job, though the overall exposure is slightly dim. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones enough to bring out the detail. Results from the Auto and Daylight white balance settings were similar, though the Daylight setting was a hint greenish. Skin tones on the model look good, though slightly warm. The blue flowers in the bouquet are dark and purplish (a problem with this shot for many cameras), and the red flower is a touch oversaturated. Resolution is moderate, with good detail in the flower bouquet as well as in Marti's features. The shadow areas show moderate detail, with a moderate level of noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files P2OUTAP0.HTM through P2OUTAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

 

Closer Portrait:

Increased resolution and detail, still some exposure compensation required.

Results are similar to the wider shot above, and the DSC-P2's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of the model's features. The shot at right has a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is almost a little bright. (The default exposure setting was just a bit too dark.) Though the highlight areas lose a hint of detail, the midtone values are about right. There's plenty of detail in Marti's face and hair, and what's there is reasonably sharp as well. The shadow areas show moderate detail, with a moderate amount of noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files P2FACAP0.HTM through P2FACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:

Normal Flash
Slow-Sync Flash

Good flash intensity (at the high setting) and coverage, with good color.

The DSC-P2's flash underexposed this shot a bit, at its default intensity setting. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast, which decreases a fair amount at the High intensity setting. (The Low intensity setting results in a dark exposure, with a stronger orange cast.) Flash coverage is good at the High intensity level, and color on Marti is also good, considering the orange cast. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, again snapping images with the High, Normal, and Low intensity settings. In this series, the High intensity setting also produced the best results, though the longer exposure time greatly increased the orange cast produced by the room lighting.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:

Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Twilight mode needed for an adequate exposure, color balance is slightly warm.

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-P2 had a little difficulty here, and produced warm color casts with both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings. The Auto setting actually produced a pretty decent-looking result, so I chose it for the main series. The 1/30 second maximum shutter time in normal exposure mode meant that the P2 drastically underexposed this shot unless I used Twilight mode. - And in Twilight mode, the current crop of Sony digicams seem to have a strong negative exposure adjustment dialed in by default, possibly to avoid washing out bright lights in night scenes. Consequently, the main shot here has a +1.7 EV exposure adjustment, a much larger adjustment than this shot typically requires. (Here's an example at the default exposure setting.) Despite the slight warm cast, skin tones look about right, although the blue flowers came out rather purple (a common problem on this shot).

To view the entire exposure series from +1.0 to +2.0 EV, see files P2INTWAP3.HTM through P2INTWAP6.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:

ISO
100
ISO
200
ISO
400
 

 

House Shot:

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slightly warm color balance, but good resolution and detail.

The Auto and Daylight white balance settings both produced slightly warm images here, though the Daylight setting was just a hint warmer, with a bit of greenish tint as well. Minor casts aside, the color looks pretty with the Auto setting. Resolution is moderate, with good detail in the tree limbs above the roof as well as in the shrubbery in front of the house. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, with increased softness in the corners (most apparent on the right side).

 
 

 

Far-Field Test

Good resolution and detail, slight overexposure limits highlight detail.

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-P2 turns in about an average performance for a two-megapixel camera. Resolution is moderate, with a fair amount of fine detail in the tree limbs and fine foliage. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, with slightly increased softness in the corners. Still, the leaf details are reasonably well-defined. The P2 just barely held onto the details in the bright white trim of the bay window, no doubt at least partly due to a slight overexposure overall. Supporting the overexposure interpretation of the results, the shadow area above the front door shows stronger detail in the brick pattern. Color balance is warm from the Auto white balance setting, with a yellowish tint. The table below shows a our standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and Sharpness series.

Resolution Series:

Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Medium / Fine
Medium / Normal
Small / Fine
Small / Normal

 

ISO Series:

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

Sharpness Series:

-2
-1
Normal

+1

+2

 
 

 

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 DSC-P2's lens is equivalent to a 39-117mm zoom on a 35mm camera, slightly more telephoto than the typical 35-105mm found on most consumer 3x zoom cameras. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
2x Digital Telephoto

 

 
 

 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slight warm cast, but color is very good overall.

This shot is typically a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition often tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The DSC-P2 had a little trouble here, producing slightly warm images with both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings, but the color cast wasn't so strong that I'd say it was a problem. The Auto setting produced the most natural-looking skin tones, so I chose it for the main shot. The blue background has reddish tints from the warm cast, which also affects the blue robe, giving it a greenish tint. The shadow areas of the blue robe are a hint purplish, but this blue is often difficult for digicams to get right. Resolution is moderate, as the embroidery of the blue robe has good detail.

 

 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Average macro performance, though the flash has trouble.

The DSC-P2 performed about average in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.45 x 2.59 inches (87.6 x 65.7 millimeters). Resolution is good for a 2 megapixel camera, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are just a bit soft, with increased softness in the corners of the frame. Though a touch warm, the Auto white balance again produced good color here. The DSC-P2's flash had trouble throttling down this close though, overexposing the shot. (Plan on using external illumination for macro shots with the P2.) Still, macro performance without the flash was pretty good.

 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good color and exposure.

The Auto white balance setting produced the best color here, while the Daylight setting resulted in a warmer image. The images look a little bright, but the camera held onto detail in the white gauze pretty well, and shadow detail is very good as well. (Although there's a moderate amount of noise in the deepest shadows.) Despite slightly high contrast, the DSC-P2 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target up to the "B" range, and the full tonal range of the grayscales is completely visible. The large color blocks look about right, though a little weak, thanks to the overexposure. Detail is also good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, though noise is moderate.

ISO Series:

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

 

Low-Light Tests

Just sensitive enough for average city street lighting.

Exposure is automatically controlled on the DSC-P2, and maximum shutter times are limited to 2 seconds, which limits the camera's low-light shooting abilities. Additionally, the camera's Twilight mode disables the ISO adjustment, which also impacts its low-light performance. The DSC-P2 captured bright, clear images at light levels only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), though you could arguably use images shot at the 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) light level as well (the dimmer shot results in a pink color cast). Typical city street lighting equates to about one foot-candle, so anything darker than that will require the built-in flash. Color is good with the Auto white balance setting, and noise is moderately low. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.31lux
1/16fc
0.67lux
Click to see P2LL03.JPG

1.3 secs
F2.8

Click to see P2LL04.JPG

2 secs
F2.8

Click to see P2LL05.JPG

2 secs
F2.8

Click to see P2LL06.JPG

2 secs
F2.8

Click to see P2LL07.JPG

2 secs
F2.8

 

 

 

Flash Range Test

Good intensity all the way to 14 feet.

The DSC-P2's flash maintained bright intensity all the way to 14 feet from the test target. Flash power was brightest at eight feet, decreasing only slightly with each additional foot of distance. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8ft. 9ft. 10ft. 11ft. 12ft. 13ft. 14ft.
Click to see P2FL08.JPG

1/ 320 secs
F4

Click to see P2FL09.JPG

1/ 250 secs
F4

Click to see P2FL10.JPG

1/ 200 secs
F4.5

Click to see P2FL11.JPG

1/ 200 secs
F5

Click to see P2FL12.JPG

1/ 200 secs
F5.6

Click to see P2FL13.JPG

1/ 160 secs
F5.6

Click to see P2FL14.JPG

1/ 125 secs
F5.6

 

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Great performance, with strong detail to 800 lines/picture height.

The DSC-P2 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for a 2.0-megapixel camera. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 800-850 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at approximately 1,000 lines.

Optical distortion on the DSC-P2 is on the high side of average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, as I measured an 0.4 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is slight, showing about four faint 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

Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Medium / Fine
Medium / Normal
Small / Fine
Small / Normal

 

Telephoto

Large / Fine

 

Sharpness

-2
-1
Normal

+1

+2

 

 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Tight optical viewfinder, slightly better LCD monitor.

The DSC-P2's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing about 80 percent of the frame at wide angle, and approximately 81 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared only a little better, showing approximately 90 percent of the frame at wide angle and telephoto. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DSC-P2 still has room for improvement here. Flash distribution at wide angle is uneven, with noticeable falloff in the corners of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even.


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD

 

 

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-P2, 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