High ISO comparison

High ISO modes are more than just the digital camera world's equivalent of iPods or platform shoes (in that everyone's got them), and they're more than just numbers to put on spec sheets; they are a response to a real demand - often a need - to use a camera in low light when you can't (or don't want to) use flash. Any regular reader will now be well aware that small sensor cameras (especially those with this many megapixels) struggle at anything much over their lowest ISO setting, and super zoom cameras have some of the smallest sensors of all. This means that high ISO modes on these cameras are always going to represent something of a compromise, and what we're looking at is a happy balance between noise (which is inevitable) and noise reduction. So let's see how the H9's ISO 1600 and 3200 fare in our studio test.

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9 at ISO 1600 and 3200.

Studio scene comparison ( @ ISO 1600 & ISO 3200)

  • Sony DSC-H9 : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1600, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.7 EV compensation, ND4 filter.
  • Sony DSC-H9 : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 3200, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.7 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI

Note: ND4 filter (2 stops) used on the lens in both these examples.

Sony DSC-H9
Sony DSC-H9
ISO 1600, 1/320 sec, F5 ND4 Filter
ISO 3200, 1/320 sec, F5 ND4 Filter
1,932 KB JPEG
3,951 KB JPEG

In all honesty there's not a lot to say here; the ISO 1600 output is by no means the worst we've seen in this class; it does at least retain some trace of the detail in the original scene, and the color is still pretty strong. At ISO 3200 Sony is really pushing it, with pretty nasty results. Again, neither mode is suitable for serious photographic work, but for small prints of shots in social situations you may find a use for the 'high sensitivity' modes.