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Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-U60 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:

Good resolution and detail, and good overall color, but the camera's exposure system has a some trouble with the high-key subject.

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-U60 did fine with tonal range and color, but had some trouble exposure-wise. (No surprise, pretty much every digicam underexposes this image because it's so bright overall. The U60's problem is just that it doesn't have any exposure compensation adjustment to let the user adjust for this.)

The U60's automatic-only exposure system produced a very dim image here, with dark midtones. Like exposure, white balance is automatically controlled, and the overall color balance looks about right. Though dark and slightly warm, skin tones are pretty good. The blue flowers in the bouquet have a strong purple tint, but this is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. The red flowers in the bouquet are a touch oversaturated, but color looks good throughout the rest of the frame. Resolution is moderately high, with good detail throughout the frame. Even the shadows show good detail, though noise is moderately high.



 

Closer Portrait:

Higher resolution and better defined detail, but some distortion from the wide-angle lens.

The DSC-U60's fixed, wide-angle lens distorts Marti's features a fair amount here, resulting in larger details in the center of her face that are out of proportion with the rest of her head and shoulders. (This is why you should get a camera with a zoom lens, if you intend to do many close-up portrait shots like this.) The image is a little brighter in this close-up shot, though still just a little dim. Detail however, is stronger, and well defined, particularly in Marti's face and hair. Shadow detail is again strong, with moderate noise.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash

Fairly good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, and pretty good color as well.

The DSC-U60's built-in flash illuminates the subject fairly well, with just a slight underexposure. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features and her white shirt. Still, overall color is surprisingly good for such an inexpensive, simple camera. The blue flowers of the bouquet have only a slight purple tint, and overall saturation is about right (though the red flowers are a bit strong). Noise is moderately high, but it's a pretty good job overall, considering the camera's exposure limitations.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance

Good color balance from the Automatic white balance, but significant underexposure.

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-U60's Automatic white balance did a very good job here, producing only a slightly warm image. Tricked by the large expanses of white in the image, the U60's exposure system underexposed the image a fair bit. (As would most cameras, without the assistance of an exposure compensation adjustment.) Detail is strong enough that the image could be lightened somewhat on the computer after the fact. Noise is moderately high, however.



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance

Good color overall, with good resolution. Quite a lot of softness in the corners though.

The DSC-U60's Automatic white balance did a good job here, producing nearly accurate overall color. The white house trim has just a slight yellow tint, but color looks good throughout the frame. Resolution is moderately high, as the tree limbs above the roof show a lot of fine detail. Details in the shrubbery in front of the house are quite soft however, with less definition. Corner softness extends quite a ways into the frame, particularly from the bottom corners, part of the trouble with detail in the shrubbery area. (Sony seems to have had to make some compromises on the lens, to shoehorn the U60 into such a tiny case.)



 

Far-Field Test

Moderate resolution and detail, with good color, although slightly underexposed and the corners of the image are very soft.

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-U60 performs slightly below average, even for a basic point-and-shoot camera. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show a fair amount of detail, although with a soft appearance overall. There's quite a lot of softness in the bottom corners of the frame, extending upwards into the image a fair ways. A slight amount is noticeable in the top corners as well, but the effect isn't as strong there. The shooting distance and the camera's fixed focal length lens result in very limited detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is slightly stronger in the shadow area above the front door, but still not impressive, further evidence of the camera's limited dynamic range. Overall color looks good, but the image looks slightly underexposed. The table below shows the camera's resolution and quality series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
1,632 x 1,224
U60FARLF
640 x 480
U60FARSF



 

Lens Zoom Range

Because the DSC-U60 has a fixed focal length lens (and no digital zoom either), there's no zoom series to show here.



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance

Slightly warm color cast, 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-U60's Automatic white balance fell victim to this trap just a little bit, and produced a slightly reddish color balance. The warm cast creates purplish tints in the blue background that aren't in the original image, and likewise results in purplish tints in the deep shadows of the blue robe. Still, overall color is pretty good. Resolution is moderately high, with a lot of detail visible in the embroidery of the blue robe.



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

About average macro area with good detail, but the flash has trouble.

The DSC-U60 performed about average in the macro category, capturing a slightly large minimum area of 4.35 x 3.26 inches (110 x 83 millimeters). Resolution is moderately high, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. There's once again a lot of softness in the corners, this time visible in all four corners of the frame. The wide-angle lens also results in a slightly distorted view. The DSC-U60's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed the shot.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance

Good overall color, albeit slightly warm, and good exposure.

The DSC-U60's Automatic white balance did a good job here, producing nearly accurate color with just a slight warm tint. Exposure is actually pretty good in this shot, though perhaps just a hint dark, and the camera distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target quite well. Colors are bright and vibrant in the large color blocks, although the large red, magenta, and blue color blocks are slightly oversaturated. Detail is good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with moderate noise.



 

Low-Light Tests

Limited low-light capabilities, barely sensitive enough for average city street lighting at night.

The DSC-U60's all-automatic exposure control and lack of an exposure compensation adjustment limits the camera's low-light shooting capabilities a fair bit. In my testing, the camera produced a clear, bright image down to 4 foot-candle (44 lux), which is about four times as bright as normal city street lighting at night. (Note that you need to use the night landscape mode to get the 1/2 second exposure these images were shot at. The normal shutter range extends down to only 1/8 second.) Shots at 1 foot-candle (11 lux, corresponding to normal city street lighting) were quite dark, but possibly usable with some tweaking in an image manipulation program. Color balance is slightly cool from the Automatic white balance, but not too bad overall. 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.

  4fc
44lux
2fc
22lux
1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
(Night
Mode)
Click to see U60LL01.JPG

1/ 3 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see U60LL02.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see U60LL03.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see U60LL04.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see U60LL05.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see U60LL06.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see U60LL07.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100




 

Flash Range Test

A bright flash at the shorter distances, with slight falloff beyond 9 feet.

In my testing, the DSC-U60's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, though with a some decrease in intensity from about nine feet on. (Like many recent digicams though, the U60 "cheats" a bit by cranking up its ISO setting (light sensitivity) to extend the range of its tiny flash. The result is significantly increased image noise when the flash is in use.) 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 U60FL08.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250

Click to see U60FL09.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250

Click to see U60FL10.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250

Click to see U60FL11.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250

Click to see U60FL12.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250

Click to see U60FL13.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250

Click to see U60FL14.JPG

1/ 40 secs
F2.8
ISO: 250




 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good resolution, 800+ lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion with the fixed focal length lens.

The DSC-U60 performed pretty well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500~600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 800 lines, possibly 850. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,100 lines.

Optical distortion on the DSC-U60 is about average, as I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. (This is about average for wide-angle shots among cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see much less geometric distortion in digicam images than that.) Chromatic aberration is moderate, with noticeable 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.) I also noticed very strong corner softness in many of my shots, most severe in the lower corners of the frame and extending upward a fair ways into the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
1,632 x 1,224
U60RESL
640 x 480
U60RESS



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Good accuracy from the LCD monitor, just a little tight.

The DSC-U60's LCD monitor is just a little tight, showing approximately 93 percent of the final frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the DSC-U60's LCD monitor has a little room for improvement here, but isn't too bad. Flash distribution is fairly even, with a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame.


Wide Angle, LCD



U60 Review
U60 Test Images
U60 Specifications
U60 "Picky Details"
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