Sony DSC-T2 Review
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Good overall color and hue accuracy with slight oversaturation in bright reds and slight undersaturation in some greens.
Saturation. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 oversaturates strong red tones, and some blues a little, while undersaturating some greens. The results are still quite pleasing, though some may find colors somewhat dull. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.
Skin tones. The Sony T2 does render skin tones slightly on the warm side in most cases, but many consumers find slightly warm skin tones more pleasing than cooler ones. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. Here, the DSC-T2 again performs well, though it pushes cyan and magenta tones toward blue and some reds toward orange. Still, very good results. The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm, pinkish cast with the Auto white balance setting. Incandescent is better, but still quite warm. Slightly above average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto WB +1.0 EV||Incandescent WB +1.0 EV|
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting is quite warm, with shades of pink and yellow in Auto white balance mode, while the Incandescent setting, though still somewhat yellow, looks more pleasing overall. There is no Manual white balance setting on the Sony T2, so the Incandescent setting is the best you'll do indoors without post-processing. The DSC-T2 requires +1.0 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, a little higher than average for this shot. Overall color is a bit pink in Auto mode, making the blue flowers look purplish. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the DSC-T2's performance wasn't unusual.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Good color and exposure, though slightly high contrast.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 performs pretty well, with only slight overexposure in the outdoor wide shot. The Sony T2 requires the average amount of positive exposure compensation on the portrait. Contrast is on the high side, and unfortunately there's no contrast adjustment to help compensate. The DSC-T2 captures good color outdoors, though slightly on the warm side. Overall, pretty good results here. (Note that the Outdoor portrait at left is blurry thanks to a random error in the T2's AF system. Other shots in the series are better focused.)
High resolution, 1,300 ~ 1,400 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,400 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,300 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,400 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 1,300 lines vertically. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't really occur within the 2,000 line limit of this chart in either direction. Again notice the lateral chromatic aberration in the vertical resolution shot at right, probably due to the folded optic. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Reasonably sharp images overall, though slight edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Moderate noise suppression limits detail across the frame, especially in the shadows.
Sharpness. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 captures reasonably sharp images, though with slightly mottled detail. Some edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left, but it's minimal and not uncommon. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows significant softening due to noise suppression, as the darker areas of Marti's hair show limited detail. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, but very high noise and strong blurring at ISO 400 and higher settings.
(sorry, poor focus)
|ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1,600|
Noise levels are moderately low at the Sony T2's lower sensitivity settings, with much higher noise at ISO 400 and above. There's already significant detail loss at ISO 200 due to aggressive noise reduction. ISO 400 continues this trend, with even less fine detail and more visible NR artifacts. At ISO 800, results are quite mottled, giving the image a stippled effect. Overall color balance starts to shift with purple and yellow color blotches. At ISOs 1,600 and especially 3,200, heavy noise reduction obliterates all fine detail, resulting in images that look more like watercolor paintings than photographs.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with good overall detail, but slightly high contrast and limited shadow detail. Poor low-light performance.
|Default Exposure||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 produced fairly high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. Detail is limited in the shadow areas, with some noise suppression visible. Though the shirt is nearly blown at +0.7 EV (apologies for the poor focus -- the camera focused on the flowers), I preferred it to the image at +0.3 EV, whose skin tones were underexposed. Depending on the photographer, you could lean one way or the other, but most Sony T2 owners are going to want to just print an image, and the +0.7 image will produce a better print with little or no tweaking. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)
Note: Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light: The Sony DSC-T2 performed poorly on our low light test, mainly because its longest shutter speed is only one second. At the lower ISO settings (80 and 100), images were not bright at any level. At ISO 200, it took one foot-candle of illumination to get a borderline bright image. At 400, it took 1/2 fc, and so on. While reasonably bright, the ISO 3,200 image at 1/16 foot-candle was incredibly noisy with poor detail. The camera's autofocus system worked fairly well, able to focus on the subject almost down to the 1/8 foot-candle light level unassisted, and down to the darkest light level we test with the AF assist lamp enabled.
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
Slightly uneven coverage at wide angle. Poor flash range at normal ISO settings.
|38mm equivalent||114mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash, High Intensity||Slow-Sync Flash, High Intensity|
Coverage. Flash coverage was slightly uneven at wide angle, better at telephoto (but too dark). Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Sony DSC-T2's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting. Using the flash's High Intensity setting helped, but results were still a bit dim. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode fared better, though with a more yellow cast.
ISO 100 Range. At ISO 100, flash power was inadequate even at six feet for both wide angle and telephoto settings. As with other recent ultra-compact models from the company, Sony apparently has decided to rely on its high ISO capability to capture flash shots, as suggested by the results below at ISO 800.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 800
Auto ISO 800
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, the DSC-T2 seems to perform exactly as Sony says it will at both wide angle and telephoto, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto. It did however have to boost ISO to 800 to do so, resulting in rather noisy images.
Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, somewhat muted color, good 11x14-inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are only good at 5x7. ISO 1,600 shots are barely usable at 4x6.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 had enough resolution to make decent 11x14-inch prints at ISO 80 and 100. They are a little soft on close inspection, and chromatic aberration is evident at this size. Sharpness improves at 8x10, and chromatic aberration is less obvious. ISO 200 images still look good at 11x14 inches, and better at 8x10. At ISO 400 you have to drop to 8x10 to get decent quality, and drop again to 5x7 at ISO 800. ISO 1,600 shots are just barely acceptable at 1,600, so long as you hold them far away. ISO 3,200 could have been left off the camera, as its images were not usable at 4x6. This performance is a step down from the Sony T2's own brother, the Sony T20, whose printed performance can best the T2 by one size up, starting at 13x19 inches (although not at 3,200; that's not useful at 4x6 either).
The Sony T2's color remains fairly stable throughout the range, but is relatively muted overall. Not as punchy as we're used to seeing from consumer cameras. Whether that's bad depends on your preference.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro 9000, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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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.