Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10 Concise Review
The H10 has seven manual white balance presets in addition to the default Auto WB mode (Sunny, cloudy, white fluorescent, natural white fluorescent, day white fluorescent, incandescent and flash). There is still no custom (measured) manual white balance option. Looking at the results from the White Balance lab tests this is rather unfortunate. Achieving anything close to a neutral result under artificial lighting with Auto WB or presets is frankly impossible. Therefore a custom white balance option would really come in quite handy. When shooting our sample shots in daylight the H10's White Balance performed much more reliably.
|Fluo Auto||Fluo Preset||Incandescent Auto||Incandescent Preset|
|Fluorescent light - Auto white balance average,
Preset white balance average
|Incandescent light - Auto white balance average, Preset white balance average|
The H10's pop-up flash has a quoted working range (using Auto ISO) of 7m (23 ft) at the wide end of the zoom and 5.6m (18.4 ft) at the tele end. These are impressive numbers for this type of camera although (like most comparable cameras) the H10 uses Auto ISO which reduces quality noticeably.
Apart form the long range the H10's flash also comes with a slow synch mode which allows you to combine ambient light with flash - very useful for night portraits.
The flash is located far away enough from the lens to avoid red eyes but just to be a 100 percent sure anti-red eye can be applied either while shooting or in review mode. Generally the flash exposure works well although flash compensation can be applied via the menu when needed.
The H10 offers the fairly standard maximum movie mode quality of 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second, and like all Sony models it saves clips in MPEG format. This is slightly more efficient than the motion JPEG system used by most other manufacturers (At the highest quality setting you're burning about 1.3MB per sec). The quality leaves not a lot to complain about. Viewed at large size some compression artifacts are visible but it all stays within acceptable limits.
Zoom is deactivated during filming. The optical image stabilization system is very useful to ensure smooth framing when filming at longer focal lengths. You get an authentic 'Steadycam' feeling.
Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
Optical image stabilization
The optical image stabilization used on the DSC-H10 has two modes: 'Continuous' (IS on all the time) and 'Shooting' (stabilization is only activated when the button is half-pressed to lock exposure). Continuous mode makes framing easier - the system steadies the preview image - but obviously uses more battery power (it's on all the time).
The H10 uses the same stabilization system as its predecessor. So unsurprisingly the H10's results are more or less identical to the H3's. The system approximately gives you a 2 stop advantage although its efficiency drops drastically at shutter speeds slower than 1/50 sec. At a shutter speed of 1/25 sec (and at a focal length of 380mm equiv.) your chances of getting a usable shot are fairly minimal - with or without image stabilization. If you're lucky though, and take lots of safety shots, you might get a keeper even at very slow shutter speeds.
|1/6th sec, 380mm equiv., IS off, 100% crop||1/6th sec, 380mm equiv., IS on, 100% crop|
Note: The H10 doesn't have a true manual/custom white balance setting, so the studio shots in this review are as near to 'neutral' as we can get using one of the presets.
The H10's resolution is more or less in line with its competitors in the market segment. Towards higher frequencies some moiré is appearing and there is also some evidence of purple fringing and CA. You're fairly unlikely to see any of this in your photos. Sharpness is fairly good across almost the entire frame (though there's also obvious evidence of sharpening); there is a little corner softness but all within normal levels. To see how the H10 compares with its nearest competitors click here.
|Click here for the full resolution test chart||
resolution 1525 LPH
resolution 1500 LPH
Distortion and other image quality issues
As you would expect from a super zoom lens there is a fair amount of distortion visible at the wide end of the zoom - around 1.1% - not a big deal but certainly noticeable on any straight line close to the edge of the frame (click here for test chart). There is also a small (0.2%) amount of measurable - and visible - pincushion distortion at the telephoto end of the zoom (click here for test chart).
The H10 generally produces appealing consumer-friendly 'ready for print' images. The colors and contrast are slightly on the vivid side but they stop just short of 'overdone'. In any case these parameters can be adjusted in the menu. Sharpness at the default setting looks good at normal viewing sizes, and there is generally no need for extended post-processing of images. The H10's output is really quite unproblematic, there are not any major issues to report. The only ones worth mentioning are a slightly soft, smeary appearance at a pixel level (mostly caused by noise reduction) and the color fringing described in the following paragraphs.
There is also a little softness and loss of contrast at the long end of the zoom and the highlight clipping that is common to almost all digital compact cameras.
Of course increasing the ISO brings a whole raft of new problems, but in decent light the output isn't going to disappoint anyone looking to produce prints or view on-screen (i.e. anyone not too attached to 'pixel peeping').
Noise / noise reduction at low ISO
While in good light the H10 can produce some excellent output, in sub-optimal conditions you'll find some noise in the shadows and blurring of low contrast fine texture such as foliage (caused by noise reduction) even at base ISO. We've seen worse offenders than the H10 but at 100% view the smearing is clearly visible on your images, so be aware of this if you are planning to make large prints from the H10's output.
|100% crop||38mm (equivalent), F3.5, ISO 100|
At close inspection of high contrast edges you'll find some color fringing. It's usually all within acceptable limits and should hardly be visible on a standard size print, but occasionally the fringing can become more intrusive as illustrated by the following samples.
|100% crop||38mm (equivalent), F3.5|
|100% crop||38mm (equivalent), F3.5|