Compared to the Canon PowerShot S40
For a like-for-like comparison I chose the Canon PowerShot S40 (also because we have one in-house). The S40 is direct competition to the DSC-P9, albeit that the S40 is about $100 more expensive and has a full suite of manual controls (something the P9 lacks). Both cameras have a 3x optical zoom lens, and of course both cameras are 4 megapixel (2272 x 1704 image size).
Based on what we discovered in the ISO noise comparison tests the S40 shot was taken at "ISO 50", which you will note has the same shutter speed as the DSC-P9 shot taken at "ISO 100".
Lighting - 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white ceiling reflector. Auto white balance on both cameras. Crops below are 'blown up' 200%.
|Sony DSC-P9||Canon PowerShot S40|
|ISO 100, 1/8 sec, F3.5||ISO 50, 1/8 sec, F4.0|
First thing to note is the difference in automatic white balance, the DSC-P9 producing a cooler (blue) image, the S40 producing a warmer (red) image. Neither is absolutely accurate here, only manual white balance preset would have improved this (and the DSC-P9 doesn't feature it).
While at first the images look quite similar it's obvious that the S40 is managing to draw more resolution from the image, be that through its sharper lens and/or improved image processing. Whatever the reason the S40 images are sharper and show more resolved detail. Colour wise there's very little difference, the S40's blues are a little bluer, the P9's greens are a little better.