Compared to... Panasonic FS-20

The Panasonic Lumix FS20 is another ultra-compact, mid-range zoom camera built around a similarly sized, similarly densely-packed sensor as the T300. It more closely resembles a traditional camera than the T300, which is ironic given that Sony has stressed the need to "solidify cameraness differentiation*," with this season's models, but they're both around the same size and specification.

Studio scene comparison (@ ISO 80)

  • Sony T300: Program mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Cool white fluorescent white balance, +0.70 EV compensation

  • Panasonic FS-20: Program mode, ISO 100, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Sony T300
Panasonic FS-20
ISO 80, 1/80 sec, F4
ISO 100, 1/60 sec, F5.2
3,340 KB JPEG
4,284 KB JPEG

Welcome to the next generation of compact cameras - this is probably all you can expect. Overall the T300 is producing fairly clean images - the lens seems to be doing a perfectly good job for such a compact mid-length zoom design. The corners are visibly soft but the center of the lens is doing better than than the Panasonic's more sizable, Leica-branded lens manages. Chromatic aberration is also creeping into the Sony's image in the crops from the corners, though this isn't surprising for a 5x, folded-optics lens design.

However there are a number of phenomena impinging on image quality which is a concern at the camera's least-sensitive/highest-quality setting. Artifacts are visible on most of the edges, some of them due to noise reduction smearing, others because of over-done sharpening or, more likely, a combination of the two. The transition between nearly white and completely white isn't exactly subtle, either, with 'clipped' whites appearing very obviously on the watchface and paperclips. Chroma artefacts are appearing on the medals on the Martini bottle.

* Really, this is one of Sony's key directions for '08 Cybershot models. We think it means they want to keep a clear distinction between cameras and other devices that take photos. But, if you've got a better understanding then 'answers on a postcard,' by all means.