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Software

The DSLR-A200 is provided with a software CD which contains:

  • Picture Motion Browser 2.1.02 (Windows) - An easy to use and fast image and video clip
    cataloging and browsing application with a fairly unique calendar based animated interface.
     
  • Image Data Lightbox SR 1.0 (Windows / Mac OS X) - An image browsing and workflow
    application designed for rating and selecting images from a large collection. Provides synchronized
    side-by-side comparison of images in 2, 3 and 4 images per screen views.
     
  • Image Data Converter SR 2.0 (Windows / Mac OS X) - A further development of the previously
    seen Image Data Converter SR, provides advanced RAW conversion capabilities, adjustments
    include Creative Style, Sharpness (including overshoot / undershoot tuning), Highlight Color
    Distortion reduction and Noise Reduction.

RAW conversion

As is normal in our digital SLR reviews I like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. In the case of the A200 we had the supplied Image Data Converter SR as well as Adobe Camera RAW 4.5 (beta).

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • IDC - Image Data Converter SR 2.0.01.09280
  • ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 4.5 (beta)

Color reproduction

Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using each RAW converter. As you can see Image Data Converter matches the color response of the cameras internal image processor very closely (there are some very subtle differences but it's unlikely you'd see these in real life). As usual Adobe Camera RAW has its own 'different' color response, deeper blues but slightly paler reds.

Sony DSLR-A200 Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardVividPortraitLandscape
NightsceneSunsetMonochromeAdobeRGB

Sharpness and Detail

As you can see from the samples below, there are some quite visible differences between the default JPEG settings and those of Sony's supplied software. Image Data Converter is applying much more sharpening to the image which results in some artefacts and jagged lines. ACR isn't sharpening quite so heavily but is producing the cleanest output of the three.

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Resolution

The differences between the three images of our resolution test chart are immediately apparent. Image Data Converter is producing fairly poor results with visible moire patterns and sharpening artifacts. In contrast the in-camera JPEG engine is still is producing much cleaner output with well defined lines. Oddly, ACR, which generally does a better job of pulling detail out of the A200's RAW data (see real-life sample below), is also outdone by the JPEGs.

The A200's JPEG engine does an admirable job resolving high-contrast detail (such as on our test chart) but this advantage disappears quickly when shooting scenes with a lot of low-contrast detail such as the foliage in our landscape shot below. In the scene below the Image Data Converter actually produces visibly more low-contrast detail than the out-of-camera JPEG.

JPEG from camera Image Data Converter SR (RAW)
 
Adobe Camera RAW 4.5 beta (RAW)  

JPEG from camera Image Data Converter SR (RAW)
 
Adobe Camera RAW 4.5 beta (RAW)  
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