Sony DSC-F707 Review
The F707's macro focus mode produced the best (closest) frame coverage at full wide angle, however we quickly noted that this produced some very visible (and not welcome) lens distortion around the edges of the frame. Moving the lens away from the subject and zooming in slightly lost some frame coverage but did improve distortion (though it's still visible).
Closest possible macro
Closest with least distortion
The F707's pop-up flash is rated with a range of 0.5 - 5 m (1.6 - 16.4 ft) which is pretty powerful by digital camera standards. It appears to be the same unit as that on the F505V, although now is electro-mechanically released. The other thing that's changed is that the F707 now performs flash metering TTL (through the lens) by firing a pre-flash just milliseconds before the main flash. It uses this pre-flash to meter the scene.
Low Light Focus
Using our new low light focusing tests we measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away. Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus.
This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast
detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), if
the subject were less easy to focus upon then you would need more light.
- Sony DSC-F707 best low light focus: 0 EV (darkness)
As we expected the F707 was easily capable of focusing in complete darkness thanks to its 'Hologram AF' (laser pattern) focusing mechanism. The laser paints a sharp pattern on to the subject, this pattern is sharp and bright enough for the contrast detection auto focus system to adjust the focus accurately.
In addition we also tested the maximum focus distance (the range of the laser) in darkness, this was approximately 5.5 m (18 ft) - this is focusing on the optimum subject, a flat white surface.
Hologram AF Caveats
In use it became clear that the best way to use Hologram AF for small subjects at close distances or medium subjects at further distances was to 'aim' at something larger nearby which would be covered by more of the laser pattern. In our own tests aiming the camera at a subjects face approximately 3 m away with a wall about 1 m behind the Hologram AF system would occasionally miss and focus on the wall behind (because more of the pattern hit the wall). However aiming initially at the subjects torso (which is can covered by more of the pattern) for the half-press then re-framing before a full press worked every time.
Later tests revealed the 'spread' of the pattern to be approximately 12.6°, the diagram below shows the size of the laser pattern at different distances from the lens (1, 3 and 5 m):
The F707 features the new MPEG EX mode we first saw on the S75. This is one of the first "video to storage card" methods of capture, put simply it means the video clip length is only limited by the amount of free space on your Memory Stick. Sony have achieved this by decreasing the video bandwidth by reducing the frame rate and lowered audio quality. You can still record higher quality MPEG HQ clips (15 seconds max.) if you prefer. Here's breakdown of the available MPEG video modes (all include audio recording):
- MPEG HQ - 16 fps, data rate: 355 KB/s, Clip length: 15s
- MPEG 320 - 8 fps, data rate: 88 KB/s, Clip length (64 MB Memory Stick): 11m 47s
- MPEG 160 - 8 fps, data rate: 22 KB/s, Clip length (64 MB Memory Stick):
The sample below was recorded at MPEG 320:
|1,053 KB (MPEG)|
The F707 also features the ability to divide movies in-camera (the DIVIDE menu option in play mode) which can be useful for turning one movie into two or trimming the movie down in size.
Night exposures / Long Exposure Noise Reduction
The F707 becomes the first Sony DSC to feature long exposure noise reduction. This automatically kicks in for exposures longer than 2 seconds (2.5 seconds or slower) and is indicated by the 'NR' prefix before the selected shutter speed on the LCD monitor (e.g. NR10"). It's also the first Sony DSC (of recent days) to support exposures of up to 30 seconds.
The F707 appears to use dark frame subtraction to remove noise (as NR exposures take twice as long as the shutter speed). The full production F707 performed even better than the pre-production unit, now there are almost no 'black holes' in the image. The F707 takes very very impressive night exposures.
|Manual Exposure mode, ISO 100, F2.1, 7.0 sec|
|Manual Exposure mode, ISO 100, F3.2, 10.0 sec|
|Manual Exposure mode, ISO 100, F4.0, 15.0 sec|
|Manual Exposure mode, ISO 100, F5.0, 30.0 sec|
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