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Sony DSC-P5 Digital Camera Test Images

We'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, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait: (1349 k)

Good color, good detail, low noise - a very good performance.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we 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-P5 performed quite well. The P5 did require quite a bit of exposure adjustment (+1.3EV) to compensate for the bright subject, but the end result is very nice. We shot this with the Daylight (1303 k) white balance setting, because the Auto (1305 k) white balance produced a very cool color balance. Color looks good, with very natural skin tones. The blue flowers and pants here are very often problems for digicams, with many producing strong purple casts. The P5 showed only a very slight tendency in that direction.

Readers interested in seeing the results of a range of exposures are directed to the Thumber Page, files P5OUTDP0-4. (Adjustments range from 0 to +1.3EV, in steps of 0.3 EV)

  Closer Portrait: (1315 k)

Good color, fine detail, low noise - Also a very good shot.

The P5 also performs well in this closeup shot. The 3x zoom lens helps prevent any distortion of the model's features, and detail is much stronger than in the shot above (especially in the strands of hair and the face details). Skin tones are more pale than many cameras produce, but are actually closer to reality. The shadow areas show great detail, with low noise. Our main shot was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment, which produced bright midtones without losing detail in the highlights.

Readers interested in seeing the results of a range of exposures are directed to the Thumber Page, files P5FACDP0-3. (Adjustments range from 0 to +1.0EV, in steps of 0.3 EV)

 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1239 k)
Normal Exposure Mode
Twilight Exposure Mode

Good job, well-balanced flash. Twilight exposure mode gives nice balance with room lighting.

The P5's flash does a nice job illuminating the subject, with good intensity at the Normal flash setting. Increasing the intensity to High overpowers the subject at this range, and the Low setting is too weak. The background incandescent lighting produces an orange cast, but isn't too strong. We chose the Twilight exposure mode for our main shot (Normal intensity level), as color and exposure looked best. Color is vibrant in both shots, with good accuracy. Following are two flash intensity level series in the Normal and Twilight exposure modes.

Flash Compensation Settings, Normal Flash:
Low

1/ 50
F/ 3.2
(1217 k)
Normal

1/ 50
F/ 3.2
(1244 k)
High

1/ 50
F/ 3.2
(1247 k)

Flash Compensation Settings, Twilight Mode Flash:
Low

1/ 25
F/ 3.2
(1202 k)
Normal

1/ 25
F/ 3.2
(1239 k)
High

1/ 25
F/ 3.2
(1241 k)


 
Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (1318 k)
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Tough Shot, Auto white balance did the best, but still left more color cast than we like. Needs a lot of exposure compensation adjustment 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, and the P5's white balance system has some difficulty here. The Incandescent (1206 k) white balance setting produced a very warm cast, with a yellowish tint, while the Auto (1199 k) setting left a somewhat magenta tint in the image. In the end, we chose the Auto setting for our main series, and an exposure compensation adjustment of +2.0 EV (!) for our main shot. The overall shot isn't too bad, but the magenta cast left the blue flowers rather purple. Below is our standard exposure series, from zero to +2.0 EV.

Readers interested in seeing the results of a range of exposures are directed to the Thumber Page, files P5INP0-6. (Adjustments range from 0 to +2.0EV, in steps of 0.3 EV)

 
House Shot: (1454 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good detail, slightly soft compared to Sony's non-subcompact 3 megapixel cameras. Rather warm color cast though.

We chose the Auto (1454 k) white balance setting for our main selection, though the Daylight (1462 k) setting produced nearly identical results. Both images are somewhat warm, with a yellow cast. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs and house front. Details are also fairly sharp, and the front shrubbery details are relatively distinct and clear (many digicams have trouble with this fine foliage, softening the details). A slight amount of corner softness is visible in all four corners. Overall, the P5 does a good job though.

 

 
  Far-Field Test (1443 k)

Similar to the House poster above. Good detail, slightly soft. Camera was fooled a bit by the bright paint on the house front, underexposed slightly.

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 our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The P5 picks up good detail throughout the frame, though some details are slightly soft. The fine foliage details have reasonably good definition, better than we've seen on many digicams of this caliber. The extreme tonal range of the image tricks the P5, producing a rather dark exposure. The camera captures the strongest details in the bright bay window area, but loses detail in the shadow area of the porch. The brick pattern under the porch is just faintly visible. We also shot an example of this image using the P5's uncompressed TIFF mode, producing this 9 megabyte file.

 

 
  Lens Zoom Range

We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 3x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 2x digital zoom enabled. The P5's lens covers a range equivalent to a 39-117mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting. (Note that the shots below were taken at the camera's 1280 x 960 resolution setting. As a result, the digital telephoto shot doesn't get nearly as soft as it would if shot at the full 2048 x 1536 size.)

 

Wide Angle
1/ 800
F/ 5.6
(577 k)
3x Telephoto
1/ 200
F/ 10
(576 k)
2x Digital Zoom
1/ 320
F/ 10
(529 k)


 

 
  Musicians Poster (1448 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good color, but slightly pale skin tones. Good detail, low noise.

For this test, we shot with the Auto (1457 k) and Daylight (1448 k) white balance settings, choosing the Daylight setting as the most accurate. The Auto white balance setting produced accurate color, though the skin tones are a little pale. We preferred the slightly warmer skin tones of the Daylight setting. The blue of the Oriental model's robe is nearly accurate, with just a slight yellow cast from the warmer color balance. (This is a tough blue for many digicams to get right, and often has a purplish tint.) Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail throughout the frame. Details are also sharp, and noise is moderately low.

 
Macro Shot (1463 k)
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

About midrange in terms of minimum macro coverage. Good sharpness. High geometric distortion though.

The P5 does only a moderately good job in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.79 x 2.84 inches (96 x 72 mm). This is about midrange among cameras we've tested, but there's also quite a lot of barrel distortion present, visible as a pronounced tapering of the bill in the photos at right. This probably wouldn't be a problem for shooting small objects for eBay, etc, but if you needed precise geometric proportions, it could be an issue. The flash (1449 k) did a fairly good job of throttling down for closeup work, but still blew out the central portion of the subject fairly badly. (Plan on taping a piece of paper over the flash when shooting closeups like this, to cut the light and help diffuse it.)

"Davebox" Test Target (1256 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Excellent color, good tonal range, low noise. A nice performance.

We shot samples of this target using the Auto (1256 k) and Daylight (1253 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot. (The Daylight setting produces a warm cast.) Exposure is about right, as the target shows good tonal distribution on the Q60 chart. Overall color looks good, with nice saturation. The shadow areas show good detail with low noise, though the highlight areas have lost some detail.

 

 
Low-Light Tests

Fine for outdoor night scenes under streetlights. Not made for ultra low-light shooting though.

The P5's full automatic exposure control limits its low-light capability. For this test, we shot in the Twilight exposure mode, which captured bright, clear images at light levels only as low as one-half foot-candle (5.5 lux), which is about half as bright as a well-lit city street at night. The target remained visible as low as 1/16 foot-candle, though the images are much too dim for use. Noise is low throughout the series. 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.


8fc
88lux
4fc
44lux
2fc
22lux
1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
Click to see P5LL00.JPG
1,297.6 KB
1/ 10
F2.8
Click to see P5LL01.JPG
1,260.3 KB
1/ 5
F2.8
Click to see P5LL02.JPG
1,217.6 KB
1/ 3
F2.8
Click to see P5LL03.JPG
1,230.6 KB
1.6
F2.8
Click to see P5LL04.JPG
1,211.0 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see P5LL05.JPG
1,087.7 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see P5LL06.JPG
985.8 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see P5LL07.JPG
1,295.7 KB
2
F2.8


 
Flash Range Test

We think the flash range is only 8 feet, vs Sony's claimed 9.2...

Sony rates the P5's flash as effective from 1.6 to 9.2 feet (0.5 to 2.8 meters) at the Normal intensity setting, which matches our test results. We found the P5's flash to have a very low intensity, even when close to the target. The flash illuminated our test target all the way out to 14 feet, though intensity decreased dramatically with each foot of distance. The flash was brightest at the eight and nine foot distances. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target. Based on our results, we'd only rate the P5's flash range as about 8 feet.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see P5FL08.JPG
1,208.5 KB
1/ 160
F4.5
Click to see P5FL09.JPG
1,287.3 KB
1/ 125
F5
Click to see P5FL10.JPG
1,200.6 KB
1/ 125
F5
Click to see P5FL11.JPG
1,156.2 KB
1/ 100
F5.6
Click to see P5FL12.JPG
1,095.2 KB
1/ 80
F5.6
Click to see P5FL13.JPG
1,155.4 KB
1/ 80
F5.6
Click to see P5FL14.JPG
1,123.0 KB
1/ 80
F5.6



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1243 k)

Good resolution, average or better than average for a three megapixel camera. Average barrel distortion, almost no pincushion. Very good!

The P5 performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,250 lines.

At the wide angle end, optical distortion on the P5 is about average among digicams we've tested, as we measured about 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, since we couldn't find even a pixel of barrel or pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about one or two faint pixels of coloration in the far corners. (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
1/ 200
F/ 6.3
(1243 k)
Large / Normal
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(794 k)
Medium / Fine
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(813 k)
Medium / Normal
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(464 k)
Small / Fine
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(555 k)
Small / Normal
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(298 k)
Tiny / Fine
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(146 k)
Tiny / Normal
1/ 160
F/ 6.3
(58 k)

Resolution Test, Telephoto
Large / Fine
1/ 200
F/ 5.6
(1358 k)


 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Optical viewfinder is way too tight, in our book. LCD is *very* accurate though. Fairly uniform flash distribution at wide angle, excellent at telephoto.

The P5's optical viewfinder is very tight, showing approximately 79 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 81 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fares much better, showing approximately 98 percent of the image area at the wide angle setting, and approximately 99 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, we're pleased with the P5's LCD monitor performance. Flash distribution at wide angle is brightest at the center, with slight falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even as well, though much dimmer.

 


Wide Angle (Optical)
1/ 80
F/ 2.8
(1198 k)

Telephoto (Optical)
1/ 60
F/ 5.6
(1173 k)

Wide Angle (LCD)
1/ 80
F/ 2.8
(1383 k)

Telephoto (LCD)
1/ 60
F/ 5.6
(1271 k)

 

 

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