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Compared to the Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi
and Nikon Coolpix 5700

Below and on the next page you will find comparison shots taken between the DSC-F717, Minolta's DiMAGE 7Hi and the Nikon Coolpix 5700. Each of these cameras represent the top of the range prosumer digital camera from each manufacturer. All use the same 2/3" 5 megapixel CCD, the DSC-F717 has a 5x optical zoom lens, the DiMAGE 7Hi has a 7x optical zoom lens and the Coopix 5700 has an 8x optical zoom lens.

On paper (specifications)

 
Sony DSC-F717

Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi

Nikon Coolpix 5700
Street price US: $999 US: $1299 US: $1199
Image sensor 2/3" 5.2 megapixel CCD 2/3" 5.2 megapixel CCD 2/3" 5.2 megapixel CCD
Effective pixels 5.0 million 5.0 million 5.0 million
Colour Filter Array RGB RGB CYGM
Lens zoom 5x, 38 - 190 mm equiv. 7x, 28 - 200 mm equiv. 8x, 35 - 280 mm equiv.
Lens aperture F2.0 - F2.4 F2.8 - F3.5 F2.8 - F4.2
Zoom control Zoom by wire (ring / lever) Mechanically linked ring Zoom by wire (lever)
Auto Focus Contrast TTL Contrast TTL Contrast TTL
AF areas 5 area 3 area / 285 area 5 area
AF assist Yes, laser pattern No No
Manual focus Focus by wire (ring) Focus by wire (ring) Focus by wire (buttons)
Normal focus 50 cm 38 cm 50 cm
Macro focus 2 cm (Wide - distorts) 13 cm 3 cm (Mid-zoom)
Sensitivity ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 ISO 100, 200, 400, 800
Metering Multi, CW Avg., Spot Multi, CW Avg., Spot Matrix, CW Avg., Spot
Shutter speeds 30 sec - 1/2000 sec *1 Bulb, 15 sec - 1/2000 sec Bulb, 8 sec - 1/4000 sec
Apertures F2.0 / F2.4 - F8.0 F2.8 / F3.5 - F8.0 F2.8 / F4.2 - F8.0
Exposure modes Auto, P, A, S, M P, A, S, M Auto, P, A, S, M
Exposure bracket Yes Yes Yes
Histogram Live, Review, Playback Live, Playback Playback
Colour space sRGB (assumed) sRGB, Adobe RGB *2 sRGB (assumed)
Parameters Sharpness Sharpness, Color, Tone Sharpness, Color, Tone
Noise Reduction Automatic, 1/25 sec or slower Automatic, long exposures Manually selectable
Flash Electronic pop-up Manual pop-up Electronic pop-up
External flash Hot-shoe, Sony acc Hot-shoe, PC Sync Hot-shoe
White balance Auto, 4 presets, manual Auto, 5 presets, 2 manual Auto, 5 presets *3, manual
Continuous *4 2 fps, max 3 images 2/3 fps, max 9 images 3.8 fps, max 3 images
Image formats TIFF, JPEG RAW, TIFF,JPEG RAW, TIFF, JPEG
LCD Monitor 1.8" twisting body 1.8" fixed 1.5" flip-out and twist
LCD Pixels 123,000 118,000 110,000
Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder, Tilts Electronic Viewfinder
Timelapse No Yes No
User memories One Five Three
Storage Memory Stick Compact Flash Type I/II Compact Flash Type I/II
Power Sony Lithium-Ion battery 4 x AA batteries (NiMH) Nikon Lithium-Ion battery
Batt / Charger Included Included Included
Weight (incl.) 659 g (23.2 oz) 650 g (22.9 oz) 512 g (18.1 oz)
Dimensions 162 x 124 x 68 mm
(6.4 x 4.9 x 2.7 in)
117 x 91 x 113 mm
(4.6 x 3.6 x 4.5 in)
108 x 76 x 102 mm
(4.3 x 3 x 4 in)

*1 Only up to 1/1000 sec in shutter priority and manual exposure modes
*2 Can be selected in-camera, JPEG images can be tagged with profile
*3 All presets can be fine tuned
*4 At JPEG Large / Fine

As you can see on paper the DSC-F717 has some advantages but overall comes up short compared to the competition, consider also that there is a $200 - $300 price difference (list) between the DSC-F717 and the others. It would have been nice to have seen Sony use this product 'refresh' to catch up on a few features such as colour saturation and tone control, user memories, RAW and additional 'added value' features such as timelapse.

Outdoor scene comparison

Camera settings were:

  • Sony DSC-F717
    Sharpness: 0, WB: Sunny, Aperture Priority (F5.6)
     
  • Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi
    Saturation: 0, Contrast: 0, Color mode: Natural (sRGB), Sharpness: Normal, WB: Sunny,
    Aperture Priority (F5.6)
     
  • Nikon Coolpix 5700
    Tone: Normal, Sharpening: Normal, Saturation: 0, WB: Sunny,
    Aperture Priority (F5.6 or nearest)
Sony DSC-F717 Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi Nikon Coolpix 5700
ISO 100, F5.6, 1/1250 sec ISO 100, F5.6, 1/1000 sec ISO 100, F5.4, 1/1176 sec
2,137 KB JPEG 3,262 KB JPEG 1,665 KB

General observations compared to the DSC-F717:

  • The DSC-F717 produces a 'flatter' image (less contrast) although with better dynamic range
  • The DSC-F717 exhibits the best resolution, but only marginally
  • The DSC-F717's shadows have some visible chrominance noise (blotches), this could be related to the general high colour saturation
  • The DiMAGE 7Hi exhibits some strange dotted Bayer interpolation artifacts in different parts of the image
  • Colour balance between each camera is notably different, especially the Coolpix 5700
  • The Coolpix 5700 exhibitted the lowest 'sky noise' followed by the DSC-F717 and then the DiMAGE 7Hi
  • All cameras exhibited a certain amount of purple fringing on the bright area at the tip of the tower (second to last crop)
  • The DSC-F717 manages to avoid diagonal colour stepping (last crop)
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