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Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P93 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:

High resolution with a lot of fine detail. Good overall color, though exposure is bright and contrast is high.

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-P93 did a pretty good job, but its contrast was very high, even with its contrast control at its "-" setting.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in somewhat dark midtones, but less loss of detail in the highlights than at the +0.7 EV setting. I shot the main series with Auto white balance setting, though the Daylight setting resulted in nearly identical color.

Marti's skin tones are pretty good here, although a little on the pinkish side, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are slightly dark, and quite purplish. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, the P93 falls about into the middle of the pack, not doing as good a job as the P73 did with this subject.) The strong reds and greens in the flower bouquet look about right, though the red flowers are slightly oversaturated. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the flower bouquet, house siding, and in Marti's features. Details are slightly soft, however, and there's some evidence of over-aggressive noise-suppression, particularly in some areas of Marti's hair. Shadow detail is average, but with lower than average noise.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV, see files P93OUTAM1.HTM through P93OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


As was the case with the P73, I guessed wrong about the exposure compensation setting for the saturation and contrast series below, and never got a chance to get back to reshoot the images before I had to ship the camera back to Sony. (We've had unrelenting rainy weather here the last 3 weeks.) See the Far Field and DaveBox shots below for better-exposed examples of the functioning of these two controls


Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Higher resolution with a lot of visible fine detail. A hard time getting the right exposure with the camera's controls, and contrast is a little high.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, in terms of color and exposure, and the DSC-P93's 3x optical zoom lens helps prevent any geometric distortion of Marti's features. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. Midtones here are bright, but the highlights are a little blown out. For some reason though, the shot with 0 EV of exposure adjustment was a lot darker, really too dark to be usable. (The ideal exposure would have been somewhere in between the two.) Resolution is higher in this close-up shot, with more visible fine detail in Marti's hair, face, and on the house siding in the background.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files P93FACM1.HTM through P93FACP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

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

Underexposed at the default flash setting, but good coverage and color with the normal flash mode at high intensity.

The DSC-P93's built-in flash underexposed this subject somewhat at its Normal intensity setting. Coverage was slightly uneven, with a vignette effect around Marti. I chose the High intensity setting for the main shot, although the resulting effect is a little harsh. Overall color looks pretty good, with only a few orange tints from the background incandescent lighting. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, and again chose the High intensity setting for the main image. The longer exposure allows more ambient light into the image, which evens out the exposure, but greatly increases the orange color cast.

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 with both white balance settings. Exposure is almost right, though the highlights are hot.

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-P93's Auto white balance setting produced a strong warm cast, with an orange tint. The Incandescent setting also resulted in a warm image, but to a lesser degree. Marti's skin tone is slightly orange, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish. The best exposure was obtained with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, though the highlights on the white shirt are on the verge of blowing out.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files P93INTP0.HTM through P93INTP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
Like most current 4- and 5-megapixel consumer-level digicams, the DSC-P93 shows some image noise here, even at its lowest ISO setting of 100. The noise climbs very gradually from that point though, and even at ISO 400, the image is quite usable. While there is some evidence (in the form of suppressed detail in areas of subtle contrast) that the anti-noise processing is working overtime, the overall result here is quite a bit better than average, at least among the current crop of cameras that the P93 competes against.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

High resolution and detail, with fairly accurate color.

The DSC-P93's Auto white balance setting produced the best overall color here, with a nearly accurate white value on the house trim. The Daylight setting also resulted in good color, though with a slight warm cast. Resolution is high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs above the roof, as well as in the house and front shrubbery. Details are once again slightly soft throughout the frame, though the same level of sharpness is maintained from corner to corner.



 

Far-Field Test

High resolution with strong detail. Dynamic range is a bit limited, however. (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-P93 does a great job. Detail is strong in the tree limbs over the roof, as well as in the fine foliage in front of the house, with good definition in the leaves and trunk details. In-camera sharpening does a pretty good job here (although careful unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) can bring out a lot more detail), without relatively little softness in the corners. The camera does lose essentially all detail in the bright white paint on the bay windows, but does somewhat better in the shadow area above the front door. (The white paint on the window is a difficult area for many digicams.) Exposure is a little bright, but 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. It's been a *very* rainy/cloudy summer in Atlanta, this year!)

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
P93FAR2592F
P93FAR2592N
2,048 x 1,536
P93FAR2048
-
1,280 x 960
P93FAR1280F
-
640 x 480
P93FAR640F
-


ISO Series:
As we saw above, the P93 shows some noise even at ISO 100, but it doesn't seem to escalate as rapidly with increasing ISO as does that of most cameras I've tested. Fairly aggressive anti-noise processing does tend to flatten-out subtle detail though.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:
The P93's default sharpness setting leaves its images slightly soft-looking. The "+" setting over-sharpens somewhat, producing halos, but would probably work fine for images printed on an inkjet printer at relatively small size. Most interesting is how its images shot with the "-" setting respond to unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm). With very strong sharpening at a small radius (try 400%, 0.4 pixel radius), surprising amounts of detail are revealed.

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp


Saturation Series:
The P93's color saturation control covers a photographically useful range, with reasonable steps between its settings.

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
The P93's contrast adjustment works fairly well, but its effect is limited almost entirely to the shadows. To preserve highlight detail under harsh lighting, you'd need to shoot at the low contrast setting, and at the same time dial down the exposure compensation as well. While this works well enough, I much prefer contrast controls that pull in the highlights and shadows equally.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Effects Series:

Effects Series
Normal
Black and White
Sepia



 

Lens Zoom Range

An average 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-P93's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera. This corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty good telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slightly warm color balance. Good resolution and strong 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-P93's white balance system did a pretty good job though, the Auto white balance setting producing a slight reddish cast, the Daylight setting a somewhat warmer image. I preferred the models' skin tones under the more neutral cast of the Auto setting, and so chose it for the main image. The reddish cast gives the blue background purplish tints in the darker areas, and the shadows of the blue robe tend towards purple as well. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the embroidery of the blue robe, red vest, and in the beaded necklaces and flower garland.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro Shot with Flash

About average macro performance, but high resolution and strong detail. The position of the flash results in uneven lighting.

The DSC-P93 turned in about an average performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.69 x 2.77 inches (94 x 70 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details were sharp in the center of the frame, though all four corners of the frame were fairly soft. (A common failing in digicams' macro shooting.) Exposure is about right, but color balance is warm from the Auto white balance setting. The DSC-P93's flash is too far to the side of the camera to provide even coverage for the closest macro shots. Plan on using external lighting when shooting up close.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good overall exposure, but a warm color cast with both Auto and Daylight white balance settings.

Both the DSC-P93's Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced nearly identical images with strong warm casts. Because the Auto setting had the lesser cast, I chose it for the main image, but there's still quite a bit more color cast than I'd like to see. Exposure is about right (maybe a hint dim), and the DSC-P93 has no trouble distinguishing the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are warm, but with good saturation. The additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are a bit oversaturated though. Detail is moderate in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with low noise.

As is often the case, the results for ISO, Saturation, and Contrast series with the Davebox target are pretty consistent with what we saw above. I repeat these series with this target though, to provide interested readers with examples better suited to quantitative evaluation.

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-P93 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 looks about right, though takes on a reddish cast at the lower light levels. Image noise is very low with the 100 ISO setting, and is only moderately high at ISO 400. (Interestingly, while the P93's image noise here measures higher numerically than that of the DSC-P73, to my eye, it's much less objectionable, perhaps in part because it tends to have a finer grain pattern.) Nice, too, is that the P93 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 P93LL1003.JPG
3 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL1004.JPG
7 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL1005.JPG
13 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL1006.JPG
30 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL1007.JPG
30 sec
f3.5
ISO
200
Click to see P93LL2003.JPG
1.6 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL2004.JPG
3 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL2005.JPG
8 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL2006.JPG
15 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL2007.JPG
30 sec
f3.5
ISO
400
Click to see P93LL4003.JPG
1 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL4004.JPG
2 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL4005.JPG
4 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL4006.JPG
10 sec
f3.5
Click to see P93LL4007.JPG
15 sec
f3.5



 

Flash Range Test

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

In my testing, the DSC-P93'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-P73, 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 P93FL08.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P93FL09.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P93FL10.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P93FL11.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P93FL12.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P93FL13.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see P93FL14.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100


 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,300 - 1,350 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle, and a moderate amount at telephoto.

The DSC-P93 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000~1,100 lines per picture height in both the vertical and horizontal directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,300 lines vertically, though to about 1,350 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,650 lines.

Optical distortion on the DSC-P93 is higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.0 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, as I measured approximately 0.3 percent barrel distortion there. 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
2,592 x 1,944
P93RES2592F
P93RES2592N
2,048 x 1,536
P93RES2048
-
1,280 x 960
P93RES1280
-
640 x 480
P93RES0640
-


Resolution Test, Wide Angle

2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Wide)
P93RESW


Resolution Test, Telephoto

2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Tele)
P93REST


Sharpness Series

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

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

The DSC-P93's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing only about 82 percent of the final frame at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor fared much better. (It was actually very slightly loose, as the measurement lines wound up outside the final frame.) Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DSC-P93's LCD monitor just very well, just remember to allow a little extra space when precise framing is key. 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.

P93 Review
P93 Test Images
P93 Specifications
P93 "Picky Details"
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