Overall Image Quality

Overall the CD300 is a good match for the S75, excellent colour reproduction (better saturated even than last years S70). Images are sharp, resolution is good, the CD300 is just as capable as the S75 at resolving the same detail in a scene it uses the same "Carl Zeiss" (?) lens and a similar internal engine for image processing. My two major complaints would be that it has the same occasional wandering white balance I experienced on the S75. Secondly that the images aren't as clean and noise free as we saw on the S75... I surmised that this could be down to either interference from the CD mechanism into the imaging electronics or the use of lower quality / different image processing components or algorithms.

As we saw with the S75, the CD300 tends to produce a "flatter" image, performing less post-processing and preserving shadow detail a little more, this obviously means that you may need to tweak the images to give them "zing" on a monitor but it's far more preferable than having any of that detail destroyed by an over aggressive in-camera contrast curve.

Another thing people may say when they see CD300 samples (same goes for S75) is that they're a little "soft", I put this down to the far less aggressive sharpening algorithm which has been implemented, this leads to cleaner gradients and less sharpening artifacts (better).

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

It has to be said that for some odd reason the CD300 seemed to perform better than the S75 it's based on. Bearing in mind both review cameras were pre-production we'll have to update these results when we can get full production units. I had to hunt through several hundred images to find a good example of chromatic aberrations from the CD300.

One notable similarity between images from the CD300 and S75 is the evidence of blooming , these appear as light "smudges" over a dark area adjacent to an overexposed area of the image. Blooming is caused by the overflow of charge from one photosite to the next, not something we've had a problem with on 3 megapixel cameras before.

Visible chromatic aberrations in an "every day shot"
Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

Just as with the S75 the CD300 did quite well in our lens distortion tests, exhibiting the expected ~1% barrel distortion at full wide angle and about 0.2% pincushion distortion at full tele.

Barrel Distortion, 0.9% @ Wide Angle Pincushion Distortion, 0.2% @ Full Tele

White Balance

While things are better here with the addition of the one-push manual mode I'd still like to have seen more white balance options, the Indoor option doesn't work under any of our test artificial lighting, nor does the Outdoor option work on a cloudy day (you get a blue cast as seen below).

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Outdoor Outdoors, Manual
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Indoor Incandescent, Manual

All that said, Kudos at least for the one-touch manual preset option which does indeed seem to work quite well in various lighting situations.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range simply defines the range of light the camera is able to capture before it either loses detail in darkness (shadows for example) or blows out a highlight (edges of chromed metals are good examples of this). Most consumer digital cameras only have a 8-bit analog to digital converters, plus their CCD's are not built to have a particularly large dynamic range, Sony report the CD300 as having a 14-bit ADC.

Using our new dynamic range measurement method we measured the CD300's dynamic range as (higher numbers are better except for noise):

Camera ISO Noise Range Bits Density dB

Sony MVC-CD300
Native JPEG

100* 0.25 399:1 8.6 2.6D 52
100 0.27 389:1 8.6 2.6D 52
200 0.41 285:1 8.2 2.5D 49
400 0.70 178:1 7.5 2.3D 45
* In-camera sharpening set to "-2"

Again, as with the S75 we got good dynamic range results with the CD300. As good as the best 3 megapixel consumer digital cameras and even significantly better at higher sensitivities (ISO) as we'd seen in the image quality comparison we'd carried out earlier.