Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 Review

Review Date: June 16th 2008
Author: Gavin Stoker

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 9 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50. Noise is well controlled up to and including ISO 800 with plenty of detail still evident. By ISO 1600 things are getting noticeably softer, though results are still usable at a push. That's more than can be said for results at ISO 3200, which should only be turned to in desperation, as detail is noticeably stripped away leaving a watery-look image. This is certainly no worse than expected however Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are fine using the default sharpening setting. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   
   

Chromatic Aberrations

There is some purple fringing evident on occasion, chiefly when bright but otherwise characterless skies bleed into shadowy foreground detail, with small levels of purple and green fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)
Example 2 (100% Crop)
   

Macro

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

Macro Shot (100% Crop)

   

Flash

The flash settings on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 are Auto, Flash On, Slow Syncro, Flash Off and Red-eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide-angle (31mm)

Auto Flash - Wide-angle (31mm)

ISO 64
ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (465mm)

Auto Flash - Telephoto (465mm)

ISO 64
ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. The Auto setting caused a small amount of red-eye, which the Red-eye reduction mode almost successfully removed.

Auto

Auto (100% Crop)
   

Auto & Red-eye reduction

Auto & Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)
   

Night Shot

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/2 second, aperture of f/2.7 at ISO 400. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)
   

Overall Image Quality

While the level of detail captured by the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 isn't comparable to that of a budget DSLR with quality optics, thanks to a quality Carl Zeiss lens it is still sharper than you'd normally expect from a digital compact, and indeed sharper than rivals in this class of superzoom to boot. You could say the images from the DSC-H50 are at least a pleasant surprise, if not quite a revelation. Noise is well controlled up to and including ISO 800 with plenty of detail still evident. By ISO 1600 things are getting noticeably softer, though results are still usable at a push. That's more than can be said for results at ISO 3200, which should only be turned to in desperation, as detail is noticeably stripped away leaving a watery-look image. This is certainly no worse than expected however. Trying out the nightshot mode however at night produced results comparable to a sandstorm kicked up by the Incredible Hulk. Though the Super SteadyShot feature is not completely infallible and a steady pair of hands or better still a tripod is recommended if you're going to be working mainly at the extreme telephoto end of the zoom, take two or three shots at a time and you'll come back with something worth keeping. While there is inevitably some barrel distortion visible at the maximum 31mm wide-angle setting, colours are some of the most realistic in its class while remaining flatteringly warm in terms of skin tones. Though there is some purple fringing evident on occasion, chiefly when bright but otherwise characterless skies bleed into shadowy foreground detail, overall the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 delivers a respectably clean bill of health. All that's missing then is RAW capture alongside JPEG, which may be a deal breaker for some, but not many at this (299) price.

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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