Sony DSC-F707 Review
Overall Image Quality
An excellent performer. As only the second consumer level 5 megapixel digital camera we don't have a large reference set for comparison but the F707 delivers exactly what I'd expected and hoped from that 5 megapixel sensor. You'll see later in this review that the F707 delivers amazing resolution, much more than we've seen so far from a 5 mp and about as much as we could expect.
Colour balance was on the whole very good, if getting a little close to over-saturation for certain colours in direct sunlight (reds). One thing I would have really liked on the F707 is a saturation / colour control implemented in the same way as saturation (+/-2 levels). This would give the user the choice over colour level rather than the camera. Sorely lacking and I hope Sony will take note for the next incarnation. There did seem to be an occasional (and slight) green cast to outdoor shots taken with Auto white balance, bear in mind that our camera was pre-production.
Noise levels seemed very good, the F707 features a new 'Clear Color' noise reduction system which enables noise to be kept low. The only visible noise was some light chroma (colour) noise in shadow areas. Even this is less than we've seen from existing 3 megapixel digital cameras. The difference is even better at higher sensitivities, the F707 works well at ISO 200 and 400 (it's no Pro camera but is still very good for consumer level).
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
Chromatic aberrations appear to have been kept to a minimum, they certainly didn't jump out at me in any of the 'every day' shots we took, I had to dig hard to find the example below and even that's fairly mild. Our chromatic aberration test shot shows that there's no clear 'purple fringe' but that any fringing to be seen is more likely to be attributed to blooming (the overflow of charge between adjacent pixels).
|Visible chromatic aberrations in an "every day shot"|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The F707's otherwise excellent lens did exhibit slight barrel distortion at full wide angle (38 mm equiv.), this isn't that surprising. At full telephoto (190 mm equiv.) pincushion distortion was measured as approximately 0.9% which is about what I'd expect of a 5 x lens and is actually a little better than the F505V.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.1% @ Wide Angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.9% @ Full Tele|
Those who have owned or read reviews of Sony DSC's will know that they do produce some of the most vivid colour of any digital camera. In the pre-production version of this review I noted that the F707 was creating reds which 'clipped' (had a red value of 255 for much of a single area). This issue does appear to have been addressed in the production F707 (we've estimated the saturation of reds to have been decreased by 7%).
However, the F707 can (will) still produce neon like reds in certain circumstances, what was interesting when shooting a comparison to the Canon G2 (below) was that there was actually no loss of detail in the flower petals but rather that they were simply far more saturated. I found a selective hue/saturation decrease of -10 on reds (in Photoshop) produced a more natural and life-like pure red.
That's not to say that in some circumstances the F707 won't still clip bright reds.
|Canon PowerShot G2||Sony DSC-F707||Sony DSC-F707 after correction|
Sony still haven't listened to the complaints about the lack of white balance presets. The F707 is still limited by its two 'indoor / outdoor' presets, and although its manual white balance preset is very good (and easy to set) it won't give you the consistent balance you'd get from known presets. So please, Sony, next time give us Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Manual.
It's interesting to note (and remember when you're shooting in this environment) that red and magenta are far stronger under artifical light. Again, it's a shame Sony don't provide colour saturation control as an in-camera menu option.
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Sunny||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Incandescent||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Manual|
Green cast - gone
Anyone who read this review before this update will remember that I noted a green cast on images shot outdoors with auto or sunny white balance. I'm glad to report that the final production F707 has been tuned to remove this problem. Samples below were both shot in the same lighting conditions (daylight through open balcony doors).
|Pre-production DSC-F707||Production DSC-F707|
Comparing the two I noted the following things:
- No more green cast on gray patches
- Green toned down (saturation decreased ~5%)
- Yellow toned down (saturation decreased ~4%)
- Red toned down (saturation decreased ~7%)
- Magenta toned down (saturation decreased ~3%)
- Cyan corrected (before had a 'dirty' green cast)
Kudos to Sony for these important tweaks which will make all the difference to the end user.