Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P32 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!|
|Outdoor Portrait: |
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 DSC-P32 performed pretty well color-wise, though it had a little difficulty with the harsh lighting.
The shot at right was taken with no exposure compensation adjustment at all, very unusual for this test. The midtones and shadows are a bit dark, but any exposure boost lost too much detail in the highlights. I chose the Auto white balance, which had a natural, nearly accurate overall color balance with a touch of a magenta cast. (The Daylight setting produced similar results, but with slightly more magenta.)
Though just slightly pinkish, Marti's skin tones look pretty good here. The blue flowers of the bouquet are almost right in intensity, though they have just a hint more purple in them than they do in real life. (This is a difficult blue for many digicams to get right.) The strong reds are a little "hot", with high saturation, but the green and yellow tones look very good. Resolution is high, with good detail even in the shadows. Noise is a little high in the shadows, but details are fairly sharp overall. There is a little barrel distortion from the fixed focal length wide-angle lens, and some softness in the corners for an entry-level camera though.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.7 to +1.0 EV, see files P32OUTAM1.HTM through P32OUTAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Strong geometric distortion from the wide-angle lens, but good detail and resolution.
In terms of color, results are similar to the wider shot above, though exposure is just slightly darker with this close-up shot. The shot at right has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is a full stop more than the wider shot above. (This is almost exactly the opposite of how most camera behave with this subject. Most require quite a bit of positive compensation for the wider shot, but much less for the close-in one. The P32 required just the opposite.) Even with that, midtones are a little dark. The DSC-P32's fixed focal length lens distorts Marti's features a fair amount, rounding the sides of her head and enlarging her nose quite a lot. (An example of why a zoom-equipped camera is needed for close-in people shots like this.) Detail is a little stronger in this shot, however, with slightly more definition in the face and hair. Shadow detail is good, with only moderate noise.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files P32FACM1.HTM through P32FACP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Significant underexposure with the normal flash, even with high exposure compensation.
The DSC-P32's built-in flash underexposed this image pretty drastically at the default exposure, although coverage was pretty even. I obtained the best exposure with a +1.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, still a bit dark. (I stopped at +1.7 EV because the LCD image was *so* bright, but it turned out that the photo itself was still pretty dark.) The background incandescent lighting of the house results in a strong orange cast, also seen in Marti's features as well as the flower bouquet. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced a brighter image, with the best exposure at the default setting. (Anything brighter resulted in very hot highlights.) Color balance is again very warm from the household lighting, but this time with a yellow tint.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV in the normal flash mode, see files P32INFP0.HTM through P32INFP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page. To view a series from zero to +1.3 EV in the Slow-Sync mode, see files P32INFSP0.HTM through P32INFSP4.HTM.
Similar color with both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings, slight trouble with exposure though.
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. Both the DSC-P32's Auto and Incandescent white balance settings responded with similar, warm results, though the Auto setting appeared to have a slightly lesser cast. The warm color balance gives Marti's skin tone an orange cast, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish. The main shot was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, as anything brighter produced very strong highlights.
Good overall color and resolution, but significant underexposure and very soft corners.
The DSC-P32's Auto white balance setting did the best job here, though overall color is just a hint cool. Daylight white balance resulted in a much warmer image. The camera drastically underexposed the shot at its default exposure setting though, and the main shot actually required a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which still left the image slightly dark. (Oddly, the Musicians poster below, shot under exactly identical conditions, required no exposure compensation at all. - Go figure...) Resolution is moderately high, with pretty good detail in the tree limbs above the roof and in the shrubbery in front of the house. Details are fairly soft throughout the frame though, with the two left corners very soft indeed.
Moderate resolution and detail, with a limited 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-P32 performs about average for its class. (The fixed focal length lens prevents any telephoto shooting, which results in slightly less visible detail.) Detail is moderately high in the tree limbs over the roof and in the fine foliage in front of the house, though details are just slightly soft. As with the indoor house poster shot above, the left corners of the frame show pronounced softness, with just a hint of the effect in the right corners as well. Detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window is limited, either due to the shooting distance or the camera having trouble with the bright sunlight. Detail is also limited in the shadow area above the front door. Overall color looks good, though a hint cool, and exposure is pretty good as well. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO and effects series.
Lens Zoom Range
Typical fixed focal length lens performance.
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 (none, in this case), and with the digital zoom enabled. The DSC-P32's fixed focal length lens is equivalent to a 33mm lens on a 35mm camera, an average wide angle.
A slightly reddish color balance, but good color overall, good 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. The DSC-P32's Auto white balance setting somewhat fell prey to this, the Daylight setting producing the best overall color balance, although still slightly magenta and reddish. The reddish cast gives the blue background purplish tints that aren't in the original image, which also appear in the deep shadows of the blue robe. Though slightly pinkish, skin tones aren't too bad. Resolution is moderately high, with good detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. Some softness is again present in the corners along the left side of the frame.
Average macro area with good detail.
The DSC-P32 turned in about an average performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.82 x 2.86 inches (97 x 73 millimeters). Resolution is high, with fairly strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Again, there's a lot of softness in the corners of this shot, extending down the entire left and right sides of the frame. It's not uncommon for digicams to produce soft corners on macro shots, due to the optical phenomena called "curvature of field," but the P32 shows the problem more than most. The DSC-P32's flash had a little trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the shot a fair amount.
Significant overexposure, and slightly warm color balance. Still, pretty good color overall.
Though somewhat warm, the DSC-P32's Auto white balance setting produced the best looking color here, as the Daylight setting produced a much warmer shot. The camera had a lost of trouble with exposure here, and actually required a -1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, still producing a somewhat bright image. Even with the exposure adjustment, the DSC-P32 just barely distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target at the lighter end. Highlights in the white gauze are also blown out. Colors are bright and vibrant in the large color blocks, though the bright exposure yields slightly weak saturation overall. That said, the red and blue additive primary color blocks are very bright. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes has moderate detail, with moderate noise as well.
Limited low-light performance, albeit entirely adequate for shooting under average city street lighting at night.
The DSC-P32 features fully automatic exposure control, and a maximum exposure time of two seconds. Thus, low-light shooting capabilities are slightly limited. Even at ISO 200 and 400, the camera captured bright images only as low as one-half foot-candle (5.5 lux), about half as bright as average city street lighting at night. At ISO 100, images were bright only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux). Noise was quite low at the ISO 100 setting, and increased only moderately at ISO 400, thanks to the camera's built-in Noise Reduction system. Color was pretty good overall, using the Auto white balance setting. 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.
Flash Range Test
Seemingly ample flash power, with only slight falloff at the 14 foot distance.
In my testing, the DSC-P32's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without only a slight decrease in intensity.(This is quite a bit at odds with the P32's behavior on the Indoor Portrait test above. Apparently, the camera overreacted to the light-colored wall on the Indoor Portrait test, and also reacted strongly to the large black background on the Flash Range test here.) Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
Good resolution, with 1,000 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion.
The DSC-P32 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height horizontally, though you could argue for about 700 lines vertically. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,250 lines.
Optical distortion on the DSC-P32 is about average, as I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing only fairly weak color on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The strongest distortion I noticed was in the form of corner softness, which was quite severe along the left side of the frame, albeit less so on the right-hand side.
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor, and pretty good results from the optical viewfinder as well.
The DSC-P32's optical viewfinder is close to being accurate, showing 92 percent frame accuracy, pretty good for an optical viewfinder. The LCD monitor proved even more accurate, showing almost exactly 100 percent of the frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DSC-P32's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard. Flash distribution is a bit uneven, with some falloff at the corners and edges of the frame.
P32 Test Images
P32 "Picky Details"
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