Sony DSC-T77 Review
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Acceptable good color and hue accuracy, but both under- and over-saturation, as well as a few hue shifts. (Reds look hot, greens a little dull, both in the studio and outdoors. Cyan shifts pretty far towards blue.)
Skin tones. Here, with the color balanced properly for the light source, the Sony T77's skin tones had a slight pink cast and added warmth, though most consumers should find skin tones fairly pleasing. 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. The Sony T77 showed several small color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects. Most noticeable were cyans, pushed toward blue, and reds toward orange. 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
Rather warm color with both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings. Slightly higher than average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was rather warm with both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings. It would probably be acceptable to many users, but we'd like to see a bit less coloration from the lighting in this shot. It was a bit of a toss-up which white balance setting produced the most accurate results; in the end, we felt that the more yellow cast of the Incandescent setting matched the mood of the scene a little better. The DSC-T77 required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is a bit higher than average for this shot. 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.
High default contrast, but generally good exposure and color.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77 produced moderately high contrast under harsh lighting, with strong highlights and deep shadows, especially in the FAR shot at right. Overall exposure isn't too bad, and midtones on the face in the outdoor portrait are at least distinguishable. Color balance is pretty good as well, though reds are quite strong in the portrait shot, and the blue sky is more blue than in real life. (Actual sky colors tend more toward cyan than a pure blue.) Though the shadow areas are quite dark, detail is still good in many areas. The Cyber-shot DSC-T77 does feature a Dynamic Range Optimizer, which can help even out the exposure at its Standard setting. However, the Plus setting goes a little too far and boosts the overall exposure just a little too much. (See below for examples, under the "Extremes" section.)
High resolution, 1,600 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,600 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction occurred right at 2,000 lines. 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
Better than average for a subcompact: Fairly sharp images overall, albeit with some edge enhancement artifacts in some areas, and strong noise suppression in the shadows.
|Pretty good definition of high-contrast
elements, though with evidence of
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of hair here.
Sharpness. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77 captures a lot of fine detail, though edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. Resolution of fine detail is better than average for a subcompact, but not as good as you'd get in the best mid-sized cameras. 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 fairly high noise suppression, with the darker areas of hair showing limited detail. Individual strands lose definition as the shadow area increases. 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
Moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings; strong noise and noticeable noise suppression at the higher settings.
|ISO 80||ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77 produced moderate noise at its ISO 80 setting. Beginning at ISO 100, the camera's noise suppression system kicks in, slightly blurring detail in its efforts to minimize the appearance of noise grain. The effect only becomes stronger as sensitivity increases. Beginning at ISO 800, noise suppression efforts can no longer contain the noise, graininess becomes visible. The result is a blurry image with increased noise grain and affected color balance. By ISO 3,200, the image is really unusable, even for snapshot prints. See our Output Quality section below to see how ISO affects printed results.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, and extreme lighting situations are helped by DRO, on by default. Limited low-light capabilities, requiring a significant boost in ISO to get bright exposures even under average city street lighting.
|Default Exposure||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
Sunlight. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77 produced a pretty well-balanced shot at the default exposure, thanks to the camera's DRO feature, set to "Standard" by default. Some might choose the +0.3 setting for its greater overall contrast, but we're not happy with how much the shirt blows out at that setting. Normally we also say: "In real life, be sure to use fill-flash in situations like the one shown above. It's better to shoot in the shade when possible." But the Sony T77's DRO handles this scene so well, we don't think it applies. Kudos to Sony for the T77's excellent handling of this very difficult shot.
|DRO Off||DRO Standard||DRO Plus|
Dynamic Range Optimizer. The Cyber-shot DSC-T77 features an adjustable Dynamic Range Optimizer option, with Standard and Plus settings. With the Standard mode, the overall exposure does appear a little more even, with toned down contrast. However, at the Plus setting, the overall exposure is boosted noticeably. (The Sony T77's DRO option seems to just boost brightness by a variable amount, ranging from a lot in shadow areas, to a little in the highlights. The best way to use it for subjects like this one (with lots of highlight detail) is to dial down the overall exposure slightly to preserve more highlight detail then shoot with DRO Plus, to bring up the shadow detail.)
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 Cyber-shot DSC-T77 had some trouble in low lighting, thanks to its maximum one second shutter time. At the lower ISO settings, images were quite dark even at the brightest test light level, up until about ISO 400. To get brighter images at any of the darker light levels, the camera required almost the highest boost of sensitivity, at 1,600. Thus, you'll need the flash for any night shots with the DSC-T77. The camera's autofocus system was only able focus down to just above the 1/8 foot-candle light level unassisted, but focused in total darkness with the AF assist 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 level 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
Limited flash range, with a tendency to underexpose. Our standard shots required a high intensity boost, and even then produced dark exposures.
|35mm equivalent||140mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash, High Intensity||Slow-Sync Flash, Normal Intensity|
Coverage and Exposure. Flash coverage was dim and a bit uneven at wide angle, but such results are pretty average. At full telephoto, the flash couldn't match the camera's 4x optical zoom. In the Indoor test, the Sony DSC-T77's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting quite a bit, and even with the High Intensity boost, produced a dim image. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode performed much better, producing a bright image at its default intensity level. Color balance is warm from the background lighting, with a strong yellow cast, but results are usable.
ISO 100 Range. At both wide angle and telephoto at ISO 100, flash shots were already dim at 6 feet, with decreasing intensity from that point on.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 800
Auto ISO 640
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, the Cyber-shot DSC-T77 performs almost as Sony says it will, though it had to boost the ISO to 800 at wide angle and to 640 at telephoto. Such high ISOs will definitely degrade image quality on flash shots at anything other than very close distances. 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, good color, sharp 13x19 inch prints, very usable to 16x20 inches for wall display. ISO 800 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 1,600 shots are usable to 5x7. Color suffers somewhat at higher ISOs.
The Sony DSC-T77 did fairly well in our output quality tests, its images proving quite usable for wall display as large as 16x20 inches, and 13x19-inch prints were decently sharp. As always, quality degrades at higher ISO settings, but the T77 delivered images that could make soft but very usable 8x10 inch prints. Above ISO 800, image quality drops quickly, with ISO 1,600 shots usable only to 5x7 inches, and ISO 3,200 ones rough even at 4x6 inches. As the ISO is increased, the Sony T77's images become noticeably less saturated looking. At ISO 800, colors are less saturated than at lower ISOs, but still look pretty natural. At ISO 1,600 and 3,200, the color is noticeably flatter and more muted.
Color-wise, the Sony T77's printed output looked good, with most colors bright but believable looking. The exception was strong reds, which looked a little hot, but this seems to be a common tendency with digicams these days. Hue seemed pretty accurate, though we did notice the cyan-toward-blue color shift we noted earlier in some of our test images.
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 Pro9000 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 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-T77 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-T77 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.