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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100

Sony Digital Cameras


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100 Review

Review Date: Oct 1, 2004

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100


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.

3x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 6mm Wide-angle 6mm
Wide-angle 7.9mm
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 23.7mm
(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 Indoors
AWB WB = Fluorescent AWB using Flash
AWB 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.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 200 ISO 400

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.

Chromatic Aberrations

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 bandwidth. Thanks!


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