Compared to the Nikon Coolpix 880
There are only two other compact consumer 3 megapixel digital cameras (ignoring the DSC-P1), they are the Nikon Coolpix 880 and Kyocera Finecam S3. As we have an 880 in-house for just such comparisons I'll be using it here against the DSC-P5. Remember that the 880 has a 2.5x optical zoom lens versus the 3x optical zoom lens of the DSC-P5.
Some crops below are of an 120 x 90 area of the image magnified 200%, some are straight 240 x 180 crops. Lighting - 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white overhead reflector (about as close as you can get to "indoor daylight").
|Sony CyberShot DSC-P5
ISO 100, F3.2, 1/15 sec (+1.0 EV compen)
|Nikon Coolpix 880
ISO 100, F3.0, 1/11 sec
The Coolpix 880 despite its age shows that it can still pull lots of detail out of a scene, that's probably thanks to its larger (and obviously sharper) lens. I also preferred the 880 colour balance, it seemed more accurate and 'balanced' that the P5 which did leave some colours looking a little dull. The P5 also seemed to have a 'ghosting' effect, take a look at the lettering on the colour patches.
The P5 does appear to have less 'flat area noise' and can handle highlights in a much smoother way rather than the abrupt clipping exhibited by the 880.