Sony Cyber-shot S90 Review
The S90 offers only the most basic of control over white balance - aside from the default auto setting there are only four presets (tungsten, fluorescent, cloudy and daylight). There is no 'manual' or custom white balance - hardly surprising in a camera of this class (though hardly unheard of). Although the S90 struggled under tungsten lighting when shooting our test chart it did a better job with fluorescents. In real world use we found auto white balance to be consistently reliable when shooting outdoors and under fluorescent lighting. Under tungsten (incandescent) lighting the results broadly reflect what our test chart shows - all exhibit a warm (or at times downright orange) color cast, which disappears altogether if you switch to the tungsten white balance preset.
Outdoor - Auto WB
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 3.4%, Blue -7.1%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 12.7%, Blue -19.3%
Flash hasn't traditionally been Sony's strong point, and the unit on the S90 is usable, rather than outstanding. On the positive side, the color is almost perfect and the output is throttled down well when shooting nearby subjects, meaning blown-out results are rare. The red-eye reduction mode is as effective as a pre-flash can be, but the delay it adds between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken is unacceptable.
Slight warm tone, good exposure
Excellent color, very slight under exposure
The S90 has a dedicated macro mode that works at all focal lengths, but - as is normal in cameras such as this - is most effective towards the wide end of the zoom. It's not the most impressive macro mode we've ever seen, with a minimum focus distance of around 10cm giving you an area of just over 9cm across to work with, but focus is very reliable. Inevitably there is some distortion at the wide end of the zoom, and a little corner softness, though it's not as strong as some of the S90's competitors (mainly I suspect due to the fact it doesn't focus as closely).
|Wide macro - 93 x 70 coverage
25 px/mm (625 px/in)
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 39 mm
|Tele macro - 147 x 110 coverage
16 px/mm (397 px/in)
Corner softness: Low
Equiv. focal length: 117 mm
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Whilst there is measurable distortion at the wide end of the zoom (around 1.2%), it is no worse than most ultra-compact 3x zooms. It certainly doesn't have a significant impact on real-world shots. Edge sharpness leaves a little to be desired (and you can see the fringing effect of chromatic aberration in this shot), though it does improve as focus distance increases. There is barely noticeable (0.5%) pincushion distortion at the long (117mm equiv.) end of the zoom range.
|Barrel distortion - 1.2% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 39 mm
|Barrel distortion - 0.5% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 117 mm
Here for visual comparison are three identical shots taken at 80, 100, 200 and 400 ISO settings in our studio. Sony's noise reduction is fairly harsh, but it does produce very smooth-looking results even at ISO 400 (helped by the inherently less noisy nature of the 4MP chip compared to some of the higher resolution alternatives). There's no doubt that ISO 80 to 200 are perfectly usable, and that the ISO 400 setting is fine as long as you're not intending to print too large.
|ISO 80 100% crop||ISO 100 100% crop|
|ISO 200 100% crop||ISO 400 100% crop|
Specific Image Quality Issues
Very little to complain about here, certainly as far as the target market is concerned. Color is excellent; vibrant without being artificial, focus accuracy - even in low light - is excellent, and the noise levels are very low. Exposure is almost 100% reliable (only giving minor problems in scenes with extremely high contrast, and even then rarely), and dynamic range seems good even given the fairly high default contrast. The images are not going to impress purists - they're a little 'over processed', but for the 'point-and-shoot' crowd producing prints at 5.7 inches or less they look great. There is a slight softness to the images, but this is better than the usual over-sharpening, and the image does look a lot crisper when you add a little unsharp masking in post-processing. And, like the Canon PowerShot A520, the big selling point is the consistency of results in a wide variety of shooting situations - this is another camera that rarely wobbles, no matter what you throw at it. We found very little color fringing and no evidence of vignetting.
Not a major issue at all, we did find some purple fringing in areas - such as this - of high contrast and slight overexposure. Compared to other entry level cameras it's not serious problem, and only affects a tiny proportion of exposures (and only at the wide end of the zoom).
|100% crop||39 mm equiv., F2.8|
Join DPReview editors Rishi Sanyal and Carey Rose on Facebook Live as they share their experience and answer your questions about the new Sony a9, Wednesday at 9:30 AM Pacific time. Click here for additional details and time zones
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.