Sony DSC-T10 Review

 
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Sony DSC-T10 Optics

Like other members of the T-series, the Sony T10 uses "folded optics" to hide its zoom lens entirely within the camera body. No fragile lens mechanism telescopes beyond the front of the camera where it might get knocked or bumped. The camera also starts up faster than average because it doesn't have to wait for its lens to poke its neck out. The downside of folded lenses is they tend to be softer in the corners of the image than conventional designs. In the case of the Sony T10 though, the folded lens design seems to deliver sharper than average results for this type of lens. There's some softness in the extreme corners, but it disappears quickly as you move toward the center of the frame.

The Sony T10's lens is a 3x zoom lens, equivalent to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera. That's a range from a modest wide angle to a moderate telephoto, slightly biased toward the telephoto end relative to the 35-105mm equivalent lenses that seem to be the standard for most digital cameras. The T10's lens has a maximum aperture that ranges from f/3.5 to f/4.3 depending on the zoom position. That's about average, slightly better than average at the telephoto end, where many cameras drop to f/5.6 or higher. Smaller f-numbers mean larger apertures on the lenses, and better light-gathering ability.

The biggest news with the Sony T10's optics though, is Sony's Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization technology. This counteracts camera shake at slow shutter speeds, greatly improving your ability to get crisp photos under dim lighting. Image stabilization does add to the price of a camera, but once you've tried it, you'll never want to own a camera without it. The difference when shooting under typical indoor and after-dark conditions is dramatic, allowing you to forego the flash (and red-eye) to capture natural light shots at shutter speeds no mortal can keep sharp.

Lens

Zoom
A typical 3x optical zoom range, with good performance.

38mm
114mm
2x Digital Zoom

The Sony DSC-T10 zooms over the equivalent of a 38-114mm range, typical among its class. Details are fairly sharp at wide angle, though with some noticeable blurring in the trees, as well as slight blurring in the corners of the frame. The 2x digital zoom takes it out to 6x total, though Sony's Precision Digital Zoom technology does a slightly better than average job of holding onto fine detail. (Sony's "Smart" digital zoom limits digital zoom magnification to just that which can be achieved by simply cropping the central image pixels from the sensor, to display at the currently chosen image size. It thus varies from zero digital zoom at the maximum 7 megapixel resolution, to a total (optical plus digital) of 14x at VGA resolution.)

Macro
A small macro area with very good detail and resolution. Flash exposes surprisingly well, even up close. "Magnifying Glass" mode delivers astonishing closeups!

Standard Macro Macro with Flash
Magnifying Glass Mode

The Sony DSC-T10's macro setting performs very well, capturing a minimum area of 1.18 x 0.88 inches (30 x 22 millimeters) in its normal macro mode. Detail and resolution are both very good, and there's very little softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode, the Sony T10 has less than most.) The flash throttles down pretty well, but its light doesn't reach the left corners of the frame, and coverage is surprisingly even.

For really amazing macro detail though, the T10 has a "Magnifying Glass" mode, which offers 4x magnification beyond the already excellent coverage of the normal Macro mode. In Magnifying Glass mode, the ISO is set to Auto (why?), and the camera can focus to very close distances, on the order of 1cm or so from the front of the camera. In this mode, its minimum macro coverage drops to an astonishing 0.29 x 0.22 inches (7.5 x 5.6 mm)! The flash is disabled in Magnifying Glass mode, and the shooting distance is so short that you might have a hard time lighting the subject externally. (Great for looking at something on a light table though.)

Distortion
Lower than average barrel distortion, though very high pincushion.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto). The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10's 0.65% barrel distortion at wide angle is lower than average. At the telephoto end though, the T10's 0.66% pincushion is much higher than average.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 0.65%
Pincushion at 114mm is 0.66%

Chromatic Aberration
Low to moderate, small effect on images at edges. (Unusually good for such a compact lens design.)

Wide: top left @ 200% Wide: top right @ 200%
Tele: almost none, top left @200% Tele: almost none, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration was low to moderate at wide angle. At telephoto focal lengths, it was almost non-existent, with only a trace amount in the lower left-hand corner. In both cases, the distortion decreases very rapidly as you move away from the extreme corners towards the center of the image, and so affects only a small portion of the total image area. (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.) These low levels of chromatic aberration are unusual in such a compact lens design.

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in the left and right corners of the frame, strongest effect in the upper right corner at wide angle. Again, unusually good for a subcompact lens design.

Wide: slightly soft in the upper right corner. Wide: sharp at center.
Tele: slightly soft in the lower left corner. Tele: sharper at center.

The Sony DSC-T10 produced slightly soft corners in a few shots, though overall results were quite good, the softness being confined to the extreme corners, and extending only a short distance into the frame. - Much better results than are common among subcompact cameras.

Viewfinder

Coverage
An accurate LCD monitor.

38mm eq., LCD monitor 114mm eq., LCD monitor

The DSC-T10's LCD monitor was pretty accurate, showing almost exactly 100% of the final frame area, at both wide and telephoto lens settings.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10 Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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