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Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P8 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:

Slightly cool color balance, but good resolution and detail. Contrast is high at default setting, but "minus" contrast setting is very good.

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-P8 handled the challenge pretty well, particularly when I used the "minus" setting for the contrast adjustment. (Look at the pair of shots below to see the difference between the P8's normal and minus contrast settings.)

The shot at right was taken at the default exposure with a minus contrast adjustment and no exposure compensation, which still resulted in very bright highlights. (Most cameras require a good bit of positive exposure compensation on this shot.) However, midtones are bright, with good detail. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Daylight setting produced similar results (with just a hint more blue and magenta).

Skin tones are slightly magenta and cool, and the blue flowers in the bouquet are dark and quite purple. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. For reference, the flowers are an almost pure light navy blue.) The bright red flowers have a pinkish tint, and appear slightly washed out. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Details are also sharp, and image noise in the shadows is moderate.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files P8OUTCMAP0.HTM through P8OUTCMAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 
In-camera contrast adjustment
Contrast was very high with the camera's default contrast setting, under the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. The P8's contrast adjustment worked pretty well here. This was shot with a minus contrast adjustment. Highlights and shadows on Marti's face are largely held in check, though the white highlights of the shirt still lose some detail. (I could probably have shot this with -0.3 EV of negative exposure compensation to hold more of the highlights.)




 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail. Interesting switch in color balance though, as the Daylight setting looks best here.

For this close-up shot, I actually preferred the Daylight white balance over the Auto setting, as the Auto setting resulted in a stronger cool cast. The DSC-P8's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features, and captures great detail. Marti's face and hair show a lot of fine detail, almost more than she'd probably care to see on-screen. The shot at right was taken with a -0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment and minus contrast setting, which still has very hot highlights though midtones and shadows look good. Shadow detail is again fairly strong, with moderate noise. (Actually, while the minus contrast setting did a good job holding detail here, I'm somewhat kicking myself for not also shooting with the normal contrast setting, as the shadows are just a little milky-looking.)

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.3 EV, see files P8FACCMDM1.HTM through P8FACCMDP1.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
High Exposure
Normal Flash
High Exposure
Flash White Balance
Slow-Sync Flash
High Exposure

Slight underexposure at the default flash setting, moderate orange and yellow casts from the room lighting.

The DSC-P8's built-in flash slightly underexposed this shot at its normal intensity setting, requiring a positive boost in intensity for a good exposure. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features and white shirt slightly. Despite the orange cast, overall color is pretty good. I shot a series using the camera's Flash white balance setting, which resulted in a stronger orange cast. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode also required a high intensity setting, even though the longer exposure allowed more ambient light into the image. A yellow cast replaces the orange cast of the previous shot, and bluish tints from the flash appear on Marti's face and shirt.

The shots below show the results of the three different flash exposure settings with the Normal and Slow-Sync flash modes, as well as with the Normal flash mode and Flash white balance setting:

Normal Flash Mode
Low Normal High

Slow-Sync Mode
Low Normal High

Normal Flash, Flash White Balance
Low Normal High



 

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

Overly warm color balance with both white balances tested, but good exposure.

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-P8's Auto and Incandescent white balance settings both produced strong warm casts here, though I chose the Auto setting for its slightly lesser cast. Marti's skin tone is quite warm, as are the blue flowers, which have a strong purple tint. The shot at right has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average compensation for this shot.

ISO Series:
Noise is quite low at the ISO 100 setting. The noise pattern becomes more pronounced at the 200 and 400 ISO settings, with brighter pixels.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good resolution and detail, with accurate color, although slightly overexposed.

For this shot, I chose the DSC-P8's Auto white balance setting, as the Daylight white balance was slightly warm. Overall color looks good with the Auto white balance, with a nearly accurate white value in the house trim (though just slightly cool). Resolution is moderately high, with good detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery, though definition isn't too strong in the fine foliage details. There's quite a bit of softness in the two left corners of the frame, extending a fair amount into the image from the top left corner. Exposure is a little bright, but overall results are pretty good.



 

Far-Field Test

Nice resolution and detail, with good color, although 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-P8 does a nice job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show a lot of fine detail, with moderate definition in the leaf patterns. Details are just a hint soft in the fine foliage, but appear sharper on the house. The camera picks up only the strongest details in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. (The P8 slightly overexposed this shot too, which further reduced its ability to preserve the highlight detail.) Detail is only moderate in the shadow area above the front door, further evidence of the DSC-P8's somewhat limited dynamic range. Overall color looks good, though exposure is a bit bright. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, saturation, and a Picture Effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,038 x 1,536
P8FARLF
P8FARLN
1,632 x 1,224
P8FARMF
 
1,280 x 960
P8FARSF
 
640 x 480
P8FARTF
 

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series

Low


Normal


High

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High

Picture Effects Series:
The DSC-P8 offers Sony's standard Picture Effects menu, with the following fun and creative shooting options:

Picture Effects Series

Black-and-
White

Sepia

Negative Art

Solarize



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range, slightly biased toward the telephoto end.

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-P8's lens is equivalent to a 39-117mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto, slightly biased toward the telephoto focal lengths relative to the typical 35-105mm range of most 3x digicam zooms. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

A slight reddish color cast with both white balances tested, but good resolution and detail.

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-P8's Auto white balance setting somewhat fell prey to the blue background, producing a slight reddish color cast with pale skin tones. The Daylight setting produced a nearly identical image as well. The red cast results in purplish tints in the blue background that aren't in the original image, and also creates purplish tints in the shadow areas of the blue robe. Resolution is high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Average macro performance with good detail, though the flash has trouble up close.

The DSC-P8 turned in about an average performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.33 x 2.50 inches (85 x 63 millimeters). The dollar bill, coins, and brooch all show good detail, and resolution is high overall. All four corners are a bit soft, but the effect isn't too strong. Color and exposure are both pretty good. The DSC-P8's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, significantly overexposing the shot. (Plan on using external illumination for your macro shots with the P8.)



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slight overexposure, but good color and detail.

The DSC-P8's Auto white balance produced the best color here, with the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. The Daylight setting also produced good color, though just a touch warm. Exposure is slightly bright, but the DSC-P8 still manages to distinguish the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. The large color blocks are nearly accurate with good saturation, although the overexposure leaves them just slightly washed out. Shadow detail is moderate in the charcoal briquettes, and noise is moderately low. Apart from the minor overexposure, a very good performance.

 




 

Low-Light Tests

About average low-light shooting capabilities for a point-and-shoot digicam. Sensitive enough for shots under normal city street lighting at night. An effective autofocus-assist illuminator gives accurate focusing in dim conditions.

The DSC-P8 operates under automatic exposure control, with a maximum exposure time of two seconds in Twilight mode, and 1/30 second in normal Program mode. Unfortunately, shooting in Twilight mode does not allow access to the camera's ISO adjustment, so I shot the following series in Program mode and varied the ISO setting. The P8's bright autofocus-assist illuminator worked well, delivering accurate focus even in the darkest conditions. (Sorry, I apparently bumped the tripod on the 1 foot-candle shot at ISO 400 - The blurred photo isn't the camera's fault.)

The DSC-P8 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) light level, with good color at ISO 400 and 200. (Though you could arguably use the image captured at the 1/4 foot-candle, 2.7 lux, light level, at ISO 400.) At ISO 100, images were bright only as dark as one foot-candle (11 lux), which is the equivalent of average city street lighting at night. (The target is visible at the 1/2 foot-candle light level, but the image is quite dim.) Noise is low at the ISO 100 setting, and increases to a moderately-high level at ISO 400. 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
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
100
Click to see P8LL103.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see P8LL104.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see P8LL105.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see P8LL106.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see P8LL107.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
ISO
200
Click to see P8LL203.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see P8LL204.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see P8LL205.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see P8LL206.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see P8LL207.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
ISO
400
Click to see P8LL403.JPG
1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see P8LL404.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see P8LL405.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see P8LL406.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see P8LL407.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400



 

Flash Range Test

Slight underexposure across the board, but effective all the way to 14 feet from the test target. (Camera "cheats" slightly, by boosting ISO to 250, to achieve increased flash range.)

In my testing, the DSC-P8's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. As is increasingly the case with point & shoot digicams, the P8 achieves its better than average flash range by boosting its ISO setting for all distances beyond 8 feet. This increases the flash range, but at some cost of increased image noise. Overall flash power was just a hint dim, but the flash remained effective throughout the series. 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 P8FL08.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5
ISO: 200
Click to see P8FL09.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5.2
ISO: 250
Click to see P8FL10.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5.2
ISO: 250
Click to see P8FL11.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5.2
ISO: 250
Click to see P8FL12.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5.2
ISO: 250
Click to see P8FL13.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5.2
ISO: 250
Click to see P8FL14.JPG
1/ 50 secs
F5.2
ISO: 250



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,050 lines of "strong detail." Higher than average barrel distortion.

The DSC-P8 performed 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 in the vertical direction, and around 650 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,050 lines horizontally and 1,000 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines.

Optical distortion on the DSC-P8 is rather high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.0 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared somewhat better, where I found 0.4 percent pincushion distortion. There's a moderate amount (5-6 pixels) of coma-produced fuzziness around the edges of target elements in the corners of the frame, but chromatic aberration is fairly slight, with relatively little coloration visible. (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
As I've been doing lately, the table below shows examples of each of the P8's resolution settings, but only shows the lower-quality "Normal" JPEG compression setting for the largest file size. Normal quality is available at each image size, but I refrained from shooting or showing it here in the interests of saving time and server space.

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,038 x 1,536
P8RESWLF
P8RESWLN
1,632 x 1,224
P8RESWMF
 
1,280 x 960
P8RESWSF
 
640 x 480
P8RESWTF
 

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine, Tele)
P8RESTLF



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor.

The DSC-P8's optical viewfinder is rather tight, showing approximately 80 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. (The standard for point & shoot digicams seems to be 85% frame coverage for optical viewfinders, which is still too tight, IMHO.) The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, showing nearly 100 percent accuracy at both settings. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DSC-P8's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in that regard, but I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with strong falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even.


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


DSC-P8 Review
DSC-P8 Test Images
DSC-P8 Specifications
DSC-P8 "Picky Details"
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