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Digital Cameras - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W1 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 strong detail in the flower bouquet, good exposure with a contrast adjustment. Accurate color.

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 Cyber-Shot DSC-W1 did a pretty good job, though contrast is quite high.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in slightly dark midtones due to the high contrast. The highlights have limited detail, as do the deep shadows. I shot the main series with the camera's Low Contrast setting, which did a good job of bringing the contrast back in line, though the highlights are still quite bright. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Daylight setting also looked good.

Skin tones are about right, and the blue flowers in the bouquet look pretty good as well. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, and the W1 does produce slight purplish tints in them. However, accuracy is pretty good.) The strong reds and greens also look good, though the red flowers do have a pinkish tint. Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail visible in the flower bouquet and on Marti's features (though Marti is a bit soft from the autofocus). Shadow detail is good, with moderately low noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files W1OUTAP0LC.HTM through W1OUTAP3LC.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 
Contrast was a bit high with the camera's default contrast setting, under the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. The W1's low contrast adjustment did a good job of making the exposure more even, with only a slight decrease in exposure.

 



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail. Pretty good exposure, but a contrast adjustment is again needed.

As with the wider portrait above, the W1 required a Low contrast adjustment to get the most even exposure under the high-key lighting of this shot. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is slightly higher than average. (You could arguably use the shot taken with a +0.3 EV adjustment, but I felt it was just a hair too dim.) The W1 features a 3x zoom lens, which helps prevent strong distortion of Marti's features. Resolution and detail are much higher in this close-up shot, though details are just slightly soft.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files W1FACAP0LC.HTM through W1FACAP3LC.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

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

Slightly low intensity at the Normal flash power setting, but good overall color and coverage.

The W1's built-in flash was somewhat dim at the Normal intensity setting, though coverage was still fairly even. I chose the High intensity setting for the main shot, though the flash is a little strong and flattens color. (Here's a shot at the Low intensity setting.) Overall color is pretty accurate, and the flower bouquet looks reasonably accurate for a flash exposure (though the blue flowers are a bit dark). The background incandescent lighting results in a faint orange cast, noticeable only in a few places (such as Marti's hair and in the shadows of the white shirt). The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode increased the orange cast dramatically, since the longer exposure allowed more ambient light into the image. I again chose the High intensity setting, though the Normal setting isn't too bad. (Click here to see the Low intensity setting.)

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Warm color balances, but good exposure and low noise.

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 W1's Auto white balance had some difficulty with this light source, and produced a strong yellow cast. The Incandescent setting fared a little better, though it too had a bit of a yellow cast. Though warm, color isn't too bad with the Incandescent setting. The blue flowers in the bouquet are dark and purplish, and the bright red flowers are a little oversaturated, but the strong greens and yellows are in check. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in an even exposure.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV, see files W1INTP0.HTM through W1INTP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

ISO Series:
Noise is low on the W1. Even at the ISO 200 and 400 settings, noise is only moderate, and with an inconspicuous grain pattern.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

High resolution with strong detail and good color.

The W1's Auto white balance setting did a good job here, producing a nearly accurate white value on the house trim and good overall color. The Daylight setting resulted in a warmer, yellow cast. Resolution is very high, and detail is strong throughout the frame. The tree limbs and shrubbery show good detail, as does the house front. (With a five-megapixel CCD, the W1 stretches the limits of this poster as a test target, even though it was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens.) Details are reasonably sharp, from corner to corner.

 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, with accurate color. A bright exposure limits the dynamic range, however.

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-W1 does an excellent job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, with great definition in the leaf patterns. In-camera sharpening does a good job here, with fairly sharp details throughout the frame. The corners of the frame are just slightly softer, however. The camera picks up a moderate amount of detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, which is a difficult challenge for many digicams. (The bright exposure limits the camera's dynamic range a fair amount here.) Detail is stronger in the shadow area above the front door. Color looks good with the Auto white balance setting (click here for the Daylight white balance). The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
W1FARLF
W1FARLN
2,048 x 1,536
W1FARMF
1,280 x 960
W1FARSF
640 x 480
W1FARTF


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High

 

Color Effects Series:

Color Effects Series
Normal
Black & White
Sepia

 

 



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 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-W1's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
4x Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slight color casts with both white balances, but great 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. As is sometimes the case with this shot, I chose the slightly warm color balance of the Daylight white balance setting over the cooler, more magenta Auto setting. The warm cast gives the blue background purplish tints, and creates a purple cast in the shadows of the blue robe as well. Skin tones are a little warmer than I'd like, but still more natural and appealing than the paler tones of the Auto setting. Resolution is very high, as the embroidery on the blue robe and red vest show a lot of fine detail. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the W1 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

A small macro area with good detail. Flash is blocked by the lens.

The W1 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.31 x 1.74 inches (59 x 44 millimeters). Resolution is high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch (though the coins and brooch are soft due to the close range and limited depth of field). Corner softness is present in all four corners of the frame. The W1's flash almost throttles down for the macro area, but is blocked by the lens in the lower portion of the frame.


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good overall exposure, though a warm color cast.

The W1's Auto and Daylight white balance settings both produced warm images, though the Daylight setting resulted in the strongest cast. Exposure is about right, and the W1 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. Though slightly warm, colors are nearly accurate in the large color blocks, with good saturation. That said, the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are a tad oversaturated. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes has moderate detail, with low noise. Here are sample images with the W1's Black and White and Sepia color modes.

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High




 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low-light performance with great color, exposure, and focusing in the darkest light levels.

The W1 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. The W1 does an excellent job controlling image noise here, as even at ISO 400, noise is only moderate. Great performance! 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 W1LL1003.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL1004.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL1005.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL1006.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL1007.JPG
30 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see W1LL2003.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL2004.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL2005.JPG
7 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL2006.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL2007.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see W1LL4003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL4004.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL4005.JPG
3 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL4006.JPG
7 sec
f2.8
Click to see W1LL4007.JPG
10 sec
f2.8


 

Flash Range Test

A fairly powerful flash, with some falloff at the 14 foot limit of our test.

In my testing, the W1's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but with decreased intensity. Flash power remained consistent to about nine or 10 feet, and decreased slightly with each additional foot. 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 W1FL08.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see W1FL09.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see W1FL10.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see W1FL11.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see W1FL12.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see W1FL13.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100
Click to see W1FL14.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.2
ISO 100


 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,300 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion, but very low pincushion.

The W1 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 lines per picture height vertically, but closer to around 800 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to about 1,300 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,600 lines.

Optical distortion on the W1 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I measured a 0.04 percent pincushion distortion (about one pixel). Chromatic aberration is high, showing about six or seven pixels of 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.) Corner softness was moderate in a few shots, and could be exaggerating the amount of chromatic aberration as well.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
W1RES2592F
W1RES2592N
2,048 x 1,536
W1RES2048F
W1RES2048N
1,280 x 960
W1RES1280F
W1RES1280N
640 x 480
W1RES0640F
W1RES0640N

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Tele)
W1RES_T

Sharpness Series
Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp


 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but nearly accurate LCD monitor.

The W1's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing about 82 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 86 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor proved to be a little loose, showing more than what made it into the final frame. Still, frame accuracy was near 100 percent. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the W1's LCD monitor has only a small amount of room for improvement. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with falloff in the corners and at the edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even, though with very slight falloff at the corners.



W1 Review
W1 Test Images
W1 Specifications
W1 "Picky Details"
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