Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100 Review
Date: Oct 1, 2004
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100 is a digital
camera targeted to point-and-shoot photographers.
It has 5.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.8 in.
CCD image sensor and a Carl Zeiss lens. Images
are clean of chromatic aberration (especially
the purple fringing we are so fond of pointing
out) and also appear to be noise free at ISO 100.
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
(114mm, 35mm equivalent)
In the above pictures, we show the coverage for
wide-angle 7.9mm (38mm), and medium telephoto
23.7mm (114mm). The medium telephoto focal length
is perfect for portraits.
|7.9mm, Program AE, Multi
Pattern, 1/640 sec., F5.6, ISO 100
In Macro mode, you can get as close as 10 cm
(3.9 in.) to your subject (measured from the front
of the extended lens).
|Auto White Balance
||WB = Fluorescent
||AWB Using Flash
As the above three pictures show, the auto white
balance (AWB) indoors under artificial lighting
is something Sony could improve on. Under fluorescent
light, and without flash, the P100 is not able
to reproduce a correct white using AWB or any
of the preset WB settings. Fortunately, The P100
will obtain a correct white balance when the onboard
flash is fired, whether using AWB or Flash WB.
AWB works very well in natural light.
The Sony P100 has 3 ISO settings going from ISO
100 to ISO 400. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white rectangle)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds
of 100, 200, and 400. At ISO 100, noise is under
control. At ISO 200, noise is still very acceptable,
and becomes visible (though usable) at ISO 400.
The above shot usually always produces some purple
fringing where the light streams through the skylights,
but we could not find any!
The P100 provides a Manual mode that, together
with the display of an EV value indicating over-
or under-exposure, gives some measure of exposure
flexibility. In effect, this allows the photographer
to have a "manual" Shutter-Priority
and Aperture-Priority mode. In Manual mode, shutter
speed ranges from 30-1/1,000 sec., which is excellent!
However, there are regretably only 2 aperture
values available, which therefore negates this
wide shutter speed range, i.e. you are able to
only select from the 2 shutter speeds that give
correct exposure with the 2 available apertures
(which also probably explains why it uses a slow
shutter speed indoors). The long shutter speeds
make night photography possible.
Overall, the image quality of the P100 is very
good. As the sample images show, the Carl Zeiss
lens is excellent and able to capture very fine
detail (see spider threads in second sample image,
fly on reed on sample image 17). But where there
is an expanse of colour, there is sometimes a
"smoothening out" effect (probably due
to heavy in-camera processing to remove CA and
noise) with the result that some detail is lost
in those areas (noticeably in sky and grass).
Also, highlights tend to be blown.
The Sony P100 is a step above the previous generation
P series digital camera Sony has put out to date.
Image quality is better, image compression is
less, and the size is smaller.
Personally, using it strictly as a P&S digital
camera, I find the Sony P100 image quality to
be very good: no purple fringing, noise under
control, and no post-processing necessary in the
majority of the pictures I have taken. For best
results, set the P100 to Program AE, ISO 100,
and Multi-Pattern metering.
The pictures in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100
Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of
what the camera is capable of. I have provided
samples at 800x600 pixels, compressed to Quality
60/100 in Photoshop Elements (original image size
at 2592x1944 pixels).
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name. Other suffixes are self-explanatory.
Images used as navigation background may have
been adjusted and the orientation flipped horizontally.
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious