Macro Focus

Just like the S75 the S85's macro mode is enabled by pressing the dedicated button on the rear of the camera (the right arrow on the 4-way direction pad). Macro focus ability is fairly good, not in the ranks of the Coolpix 990/995 but respectable all the same. We found the optimum frame coverage at about half zoom where you can expect 4.5 cm (1.8 in) across the frame.

Internal Flash

The S85's flash sits on the far left corner of the front of the case. It has a rated range of 2.5 m (at wide). On the whole performance is identical to the S75, good skin-tones, good colour balance with no cool colour casts. The ability to control flash output by +/-1 level can very useful.

Good exposure, good skin tones no colour cast. Wall wide-angle test shot, 2 m distance. Fairly good coverage though there is some drop off in the corners. Excellent white balance in flash mode, no cast and strong vivid colours.

MPEG Movies

The S85 features the new MPEG EX mode we 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 (64MB Memory Stick): 11m 47s
  • MPEG 160 - 8 fps, data rate: 22 KB/s, Clip length (64MB Memory Stick): 45m 46s

The sample below was recorded at MPEG 320:

The S85 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.

Twilight Scene Mode / Night Shots

Twilight Scene Mode allows you to take long exposures up to 2 seconds. If you need to go slower than that you can switch to Manual Exposure and select up to 8 second exposures.

Twilight Scene mode, ISO 100, F2.2, 2.0 sec
Manual Exposure mode, ISO 100, F2.2, 5.0 sec
Manual Exposure mode, ISO 100, F4.5, 8.0 sec

The best exposure was achieved at around 5 seconds where noise levels are acceptable and image brightness was good (at F2.2). The new 4.1 megapixel CCD (or the processing algorithms) exhibits a different kind of 'hot pixel' than we're used to, these appeared as small white dots rather than the normal stuck red / green or blue.