Sony Cybershot DSC-V1 Review
The DSC-V1 had a real problem with our outdoor test chart. Using Auto white balance the test chart was always reproduced with a clearly noticeable blue cast. The chart itself does not sit in direct sunlight but does face 'the outdoors' is lit by strong ambient light (no other digital camera has had a problem measuring WB in the outdoor shot). Setting the camera to the Cloudy preset or taking a Manual reading did of course produce a better rendition.
Under artificial light the V1's Auto white balance worked very well in fluorescent light but less so in incandescent light where it suffered from a warm yellow cast.
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Cloudy (or Sunny)||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Incandescent||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Fluorescent||Fluorescent, Manual|
The DSC-V1's best macro frame coverage (smallest possible area across the entire frame) was 56 mm (2.2 in) at half zoom. This was an almost exact match for the Canon PowerShot G5's performance, above average.
The DSC-V1's pop-up flash has a specified range of 3.5 m (11. 5 ft). As you can see flash shots did not suffer from any color cast but were slightly underexposed with a bright background, this could be corrected using flash exposure compensation (menu option).
|Skin tone - Natural color, no blue cast, moderately underexposed.||Color patches - Good color balance, no color cast, moderately underexposed.|
There are two methods for taking night exposures with the DSC-V1. Firstly there is the built-in Night Scene mode, we found this to be frankly inadequate, especially as its longest shutter speed was two seconds. The second (and IMHO preferred) is to use manual exposure mode, here too you can of course select the aperture to improve sharpness and use timed exposures of up to 30 seconds. The V1 has automatic noise reduction which is applied automatically for exposures of 1/6 sec or slower.
|Manual exposure: ISO 100, 8 sec, F4.0|
|Manual exposure: ISO 100, 30 sec, F8.0|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
In our lens distortion tests the DSC-V1 exhibited 1.1% barrel distortion at wide angle and 0.6% pincushion distortion at telephoto. These results are about average for a compact four times optical zoom lens, unfortunately a certain amount of lens distortion has to be expected on these compact long zoom lens systems.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.1% @ wide angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.6% @ telephoto|
Vignetting / Light fall off
Our vignetting / light fall off test is very simple, a
shot of a blank wall from two meters away, vignetting will always be most
visible at wide angle and maximum aperture and will start to disappear
at smaller apertures and/or further zoom. The DSC-V1 exhibits some very
slight vignetting (less than average) at wide angle and also at telephoto
(which is unusual). Having said that the amount of vignetting / light
fall off we can see below would almost definitely not be visible in everyday
|Slight corner vignetting visible at wide angle and maximum aperture (F2.8)||Again, very slight (less than at wide angle) vignetting at telephoto (F4.0)|
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
The DSC-V1 certainly did exhibit some purple fringing on our standard test shot, however it seemed to occur with this strength at wide angle and maximum aperture. Our everyday shots exhibited very little purple fringing.
|No fringing visible around reflective highlights, F4.0||Slight fringing visible in areas of contrast, F4.0|
|Our standard chromatic aberration test shot|
Overall Image Quality / Specific Issues
Sony will be pleased to hear that other than what is mentioned above I had no other issues with the DSC-V1's image quality. Indeed the V1 consistently delivered well exposed, sharp images with good resolution, tonal balance and color. Noise levels were kept under control by Sony's noise reduction systems and the camera performed well even at ISO 400 (although 800 is a little brave). Considering the size of the lens system this also produced good results, some moderate distortion at wide angle but apart from that good performance throughout the zoom range.
Now that our Panasonic Lumix S1R has final firmware, we couldn't wait to get out shooting with it - and we also tried the high-res mode, which combines files to get 187 megapixel images. Because sometimes, 47 megapixels just isn't enough.
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