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Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P73 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, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Good resolution and detail, but a little soft, and with some evidence of strong anti-noise processing. High contrast, but pretty good midtone detail.

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-P73 maintained pretty good saturation, but contrast is a little higher than I'd like, even though I shot with the camera's contrast adjusted to its lower setting.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, as anything brighter lost too much highlight detail, and the default exposure was too dark. Midtones are fairly bright, with moderate detail, but some highlight detail is lost to the deliberately harsh lighting, even though I shot this with the P73's contrast adjustment set to the "low" position. The DSC-P73's Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate color here, as the Daylight setting was a bit warm.

Marti's skin tones look very good here, very natural, and the color of the blue flowers in the bouquet are just about perfect. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, often producing purplish tints in them. The P73 really nailed this color though.) Color is also good in the rest of the flower bouquet, with good saturation. (The red flowers are on the verge of getting too hot, but still hold onto a lot of detail.) Resolution is high and detail is strong, though details are slightly soft across the board. Like most of the 4- and 5-megapixel cameras I'm seeing this year, the P73 shows some image noise, even at its lowest ISO setting. That said, the noise levels here are within what I'd consider to be an acceptable range, although there's also some evidence that strong anti-noise processing has flattened detail in areas of subtle contrast. Shadow detail is moderate, with moderate noise.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV, see files P73OUTAM1.HTM through P73OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


Saturation Series:

The P73 has a 3-step saturation control that provides a useful range of adjustment. The shots below show its effect on this shot, although I unfortunately ended up with the exposure compensation set too high for both the saturation and contrast-adjustment series below. - And unfortunately, we had such a protracted string of cloudy days that I couldn't manage to reshoot this series before I had to return the eval sample to Sony.
Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High

Contrast Series:
As with the saturation control, there's a nice range of adjustment available via the contrast control, but I again ended up with the wrong exposure setting. (See other examples of saturation and contrast adjustment further down this page, for a better look at what these controls do.)

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

High resolution and increased fine detail, but still evidence of heavy-handed noise suppression.

Though the exposure borders on being too bright, I chose a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment for this shot. The image looks a little dark, particularly in the shadows, but I felt that any more exposure boost lost too much highlight detail. Color looks good, as with the wider shot above, and the DSC-P73's 3x optical zoom lens helps avoid geometric distortion of Marti's features. Though the highlights are quite bright, with limited detail, midtones look very good. Resolution is high, with more visible fine detail, but details are again a little soft overall. Once again, there's clearly noise present here, particularly in the blue channel, although it isn't too obtrusive. There also is once again evidence of somewhat heavy-handed noise-suppression, particularly in the strands of Marti's hair.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files P73FACM1.HTM through P73FACP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
High Intensity
Slow-Sync Flash
High Intensity

Both flash modes require an intensity boost to get a bright exposure, but pretty good coverage and color with the normal flash mode.

The DSC-P73's built-in flash underexposed this shot at its default intensity setting, though coverage was fairly even. I chose the High intensity setting for the main shot, even though that left the highlights in Marti's shirt looking slightly washed out. Overall color looks pretty good, with reasonably accurate skin tones and good results on the blue flowers (though a little bright and a bit purplish). I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, and again chose the High intensity setting for the main image there. The longer exposure allows more ambient light into the image, which results in a strong orange color cast from the incandescent light source. Flash coverage is still good, though shadows are still strong on the back wall.

Normal Mode Flash Exposure Series:

Normal Flash Mode
Low
Normal
High

Slow-Sync Mode Flash Exposure Series:

Slow-Sync Flash Mode
Low
Normal
High



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Warm color balances from both white balance settings. Pretty good exposure, but hot highlights.

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-P73's Auto white balance setting had a difficult time here, producing a very strong warm cast. The Incandescent setting also resulted in a warm image, but overall results were much better and more pleasing. (I'd put this right about at the upper limit of what's acceptable for this shot. I'm not crazy about how it looks on the screen, but I've found that prints from photos like this tend to lose some of the excessive warmth.) The warm cast gives Marti's skin tone an orange tint, and creates purplish tints in the blue flowers (which are also slightly dark). The best exposure was obtained with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, although that leaves the highlights on the white shirt quite hot. (The shot taken at +0.3 EV was just too dim overall.)

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files P73INTP0.HTM through P73INTP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
Image noise is moderate at the 100 ISO setting, but not too obtrusive. It's quite visible at ISO 200, but still within the range of what I think most users would consider acceptable. At ISO 400 the noise levels aren't quite as bad as some cameras I've seen recently, but it's still just at the edge of I'd consider usable.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Fairly high resolution and detail, but a warm color balance.

Despite a slight warm cast, the DSC-P73's Auto white balance setting produced the best overall color here, even though the white house trim has a yellow tint. The Daylight setting, however, resulted in a much stronger yellow cast. Resolution is high, but the fine detail in the front shrubbery appears slightly pixilated. Still, detail is strong in the tree limbs above the roof, as well as in the house front. Details are fairly sharp throughout the center of the frame, although there's some softness in the lower left corner.



 

Far-Field Test

High resolution with pretty good detail, but a slightly limited dynamic range. (Apologies for the tilt!)

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-P73 captures a lot of fine detail. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show a lot of fine detail, with good clarity in the larger leaf patterns. However, some of the finer details in the smaller leaves are area little pixilated and blocky-looking. Details are slightly soft throughout the frame, with slightly increased softness in the corners. The camera holds onto a little highlight detail in the bright white paint of the bay window, a difficult challenge for many digicams, but was helped somewhat by the hazy conditions on the day this was shot. Detail is slightly better in the shadow area above the front door. Exposure is a little bright, and contrast slightly high, and color is pretty good. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and effects series.

(Apologies for the slanted pictures here - I was extremely pressed for time, to squeeze these shots off before the clouds took over again, so ended up with the tripod tilted slightly. - And we never got a clear afternoon again before I had to ship the camera back to Sony.)

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,304 x 1,728
P73FAR2304F
P73FAR2304N
2,048 x 1,536
P73FAR2048F
-
1,280 x 960
P73FAR1280F
-
640 x 480
P73FAR640F
-


ISO Series:
As above, the P73 shows a little noise even at ISO 100, but at the higher levels, doesn't do as badly as many cameras I've reviewed recently.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:
In most of my test shots, the P73's images look a little soft. The in-camera sharpness adjustment does crispen things up a little at its "+" setting, but also coarsens the fine detail a fair bit in the process. If you're willing to put up with the hassle though, setting the sharpness control to "-" and then applying strong unsharp masking in Photoshop reveals surprisingly good detail. (If you're interested in experimenting, try a USM setting of 300-350%, with a radius of 0.4 pixels on the "low" example below.)

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High


Saturation Series:
This series gives a better idea of what the P73's saturation control does. Overall, a nice range of control, with nice-sized steps.

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
The P73's contrast control also offers a decent range of adjustment, although I'd like to see it extend further in the "low" direction. Also, like many digicam contrast controls, it mainly affects shadow values, rather than pulling in the highlights and shadows equally. As a result, when faced with a contrasty subject, you'll want to set the contrast control to its "-" position, and also dial in a little negative exposure compensation to help hold onto the highlights.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Effects Series:

Effects Series
Normal
Black and White
Sepia



 

Lens Zoom Range

A pretty 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-P73's lens is equivalent to a 39-117mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty good telephoto, overall slightly biased toward the telephoto end of the range, relative to the 35-105mm range that's most common on point & shoot digicams. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

A slight red color cast, and moderately high image noise, but 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-P73's Auto white balance setting produced the best color balance here, though it is slightly warm. The Daylight setting produced a much stronger warm cast. The slight reddish tint of the Auto white balance setting warms the models' skin tones, and gives the blue background purplish tints in the darker areas. The blue robe looks nearly right, though it too has some purplish tints in the deeper shadows. Resolution is high, as the embroidery of the blue robe shows good detail, though image noise does reduce the visible detail somewhat.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro Shot with Flash

About average macro performance, but good detail. The position of the flash results in uneven lighting.

The DSC-P73 turned in about an average performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.45 x 2.58 inches (88 x 67 millimeters). Resolution is high, and the dollar bill, coins, and brooch show a lot of fine detail. As with most of the other shots from the P73, details are a bit soft with the default sharpness setting, with increased softness in the corners. The image is slightly underexposed, and color is slightly greenish with the Auto white balance. The DSC-P73's flash is off to the side of the camera, which results in uneven lighting for macro shots.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good overall exposure, though a warm color cast.

The DSC-P73's Auto white balance setting surprisingly produced a warm, yellowish color balance here. (The Daylight setting produced an even stronger cast.) Exposure is about right, and the DSC-P73 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. Saturation is good in the large color blocks, although I found the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) a bit oversaturated. Detail is slightly limited in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, but image noise there is fairly low.

(The shots below basically show the same behavior as the earlier examples of variations in ISO, Saturation, and Contrast above, but I always include Davebox samples, so readers interested in more quantitative evaluations can examine images of known test targets.)

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Effects Series:

Effects Series
Normal
Black and White
Sepia



 

Low-Light Tests

Surprisingly good low-light performance, with good color and fairly low image noise. Very good low-light focusing as well.

The DSC-P73 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all three ISO settings. (At ISO 100, the shot at the lowest light level is slightly dim, but the image was still usable.) Color is good with the Auto white balance setting. Image noise is very low with the 100 ISO setting, but becomes fairly high at ISO 400. Also nice, is that the P73 can focus in complete darkness (on nearby subjects, at least), thanks to its autofocus illuminator. Even without the AF assist light, it can routinely focus down to 1/8 foot-candle, a very low light level. 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.

(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
100
Click to see P73LL1003.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL1004.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL1005.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL1006.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL1007.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see P73LL2003.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL2004.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL2005.JPG
7 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL2006.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL2007.JPG
25 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see P73LL4003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL4004.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL4005.JPG
3 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL4006.JPG
7 sec
f2.8
Click to see P73LL4007.JPG
13 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

A moderately bright flash, but range is limited to 9-10 feet at telephoto.

In my testing, the DSC-P73's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, though with a progressive decrease in intensity starting at 9 feet. (The same performance as I found with the DSC-P93, no surprise, as the electronics is the same in the two cameras.) Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see P73FL08.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P73FL09.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P73FL10.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P73FL11.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P73FL12.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P73FL13.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P73FL14.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,150 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle, and a moderate amount at telephoto.

The DSC-P73 performed pretty well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height vertically, though closer to 600 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,150 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,450 lines.

Optical distortion on the DSC-P73 is high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.07 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, as I found 0.3 percent barrel distortion there. Chromatic aberration is low to moderate, showing about four or five very faint pixels of fairly faint 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, ~50mm equivalent focal length
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,304 x 1,728
P73RES2304F
P73RES2304N
2,048 x 1,536
P73RES2048
-
1,280 x 960
P73RES1280
-
640 x 480
P73RES0640
-


 

Resolution Test, Wide Angle

2,304 x 1,728
(Fine, Tele)
P73RESW


Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,304 x 1,728
(Fine, Tele)
P73REST


Sharpness Series

Sharpness Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A very tight optical viewfinder, but an accurate LCD monitor.

The DSC-P73's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing only about 78 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing close to 100 percent accuracy at both zoom settings. Actually, at the telephoto setting, framing was slightly loose, as the measurement lines were just outside the final frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DSC-P73's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard, but its optical viewfinder could really use some help. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with strong falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform, with only very slight falloff in the corners.




P73 Review
P73 Test Images
P73 Specifications
P73 "Picky Details"
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