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Color reproduction

Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.

Sony DSLR-A350 Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardVividPortraitLandscape
NightSceneSunsetBlack And WhiteAdobeRGB

Artificial light White Balance

Ironically, white balance (the process of compensating for the color characteristics of light sources), is something of a black art. The A350 struggles, which is not uncommon in cameras at this price point. Using presets produces more accurate results than Auto mode, but if you're taking picture that require perfect white balance, you'll have to manually set a white balance or shoot RAW and correct the results when you process the images.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.7%, Blue: -12.4%, Average
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 4.1%, Blue: -8.5%, Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.6%, Blue: -12.1%, Average
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: 6.1%, Blue: -7.3%, Average

Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots

Our usual 30 second exposure test produced a handful of hot pixels on the A350 with Long Exposure Noise Reduction turned off. Unfortunately, the effect of turning Noise Reduction on appears to be to automatically assume that the pixel is black, leaving dark, rather than light dots across the image. Most other systems average the data from adjacent pixels to ensure the false pixel blends in, rather than making it appear as a aberrant black dot.

Noise reduction Off Noise reduction On
ISO 100, 30 sec, F20 ISO 100, 30 sec, F20

Flash

The A350's built-in flash unit performed pretty well, though slightly overexposed our test chart and gave a subtle green cast. With a human subject skin tones were natural and but slightly underexposed. We're also worried that its tiny flash doesn't pop up very far and may cause shadowing on larger lenses.

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

At low sensitivity (ISO) settings, the A350 is a very credible performer when compared to other, similarly-priced cameras. Its color representation lies very slightly on the saturated side of realism, which we suspect will suit the vast majority of its users. The default output is slightly soft in comparison to compact cameras but it's not unusual among DSLRs and can be increased if you don't plan to do any additional processing work on the files. The in-camera JPEG processing also does a good job of delivering nearly all the dynamic range of the sensor and, helpfully, much of this is on the highlight side of middle gray.

JPEG engine sharpness

Unfortunately, the picture isn't always as pretty in the real world. Low-contrast detail is poorly rendered, partly due to the soft JPEG output but also, we suspect, because of attempts to keep noise in check. scenes containing grass can often end up looking like moss or velvet because the in-camera JPEG engine appears to be incapable of rendering the subtle contrast required to represent its correct texture. The difference between the real-world representation of fine detail (in which RAW conversion can bring out much more convincing detail), and the resolution chart tests, which the JPEGs present better, suggests that the camera's JPEG processor is performing luminance noise reduction (aka smearing) even at base ISO.

JPEG from Camera
(default sharpening)
ACR conversion
(Sharpening 47, radius 1.0, detail 53)

 

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