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Old Sep 23, 2004, 6:01 AM   #1
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Following the discussion about the lack of clarity with Sony W1 I did some testing. I compared Sony W1 to Olympus C5050. The top image is from Sony W1 and the bootom is from Olympus C5050

Test conditions:

both cameras were set to their maximum resolution of 5 MP and lowest compression-best quality JPEG. The pictures were taken from about 1.3 m with cameras mounted on a heavy tripod and trigered via self timer. Light came from a 500W tungsten source with an umbrela bounce reflector. The Olympus C5050 was setto sharpness -5 in order to reduce its internal sharpening, which is known to be quite agressive.Images are cut from 100% zoomed image.

As you can see the Olympus produces clearly better resolution. The detail in the Sony image is not as nicely resolved. At the same time the Oly image is noisier. Sharpening helps to clarify the W1 image but some detail is lost. I assume the bigger part of this difference is due to the overly agressive noise reduction of W1. I'd also expect the Olympus lens to perform slightly better but the purely optical contribution is no more than 10-20% IMO.

I should say that comparing point and shoot to a prosumer camera (although 2 years old) is not completely fair, but this is what I have. I guess the difference will be smaller if similar comparison is made between say W1 and Ixus500. Nevertheless Sony is not exactly working for keeping the Carl-Zeiss reputation. Many users will undoubtedly notice this lower level of detail and attribute it to the lens instead of post processing. I guess it'd be wise if Sony addresses this with a firmware upgrade, turning the noise reduction down a notch


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Old Sep 23, 2004, 6:53 AM   #2
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Well, I really hope its up to the NR-system so it could be corrected.

Unfortunately, the way I know Sony they're not going to do anything about the firmware unless they are under some EXTREME pressure from camera owners and/or press reviews.

So, how do we get them to correct the problem, and if they don't, is there any way to crack the firmware the way it was done with some Canon dSLR's?
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 7:01 AM   #3
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Deadlock-83 wrote:
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Well, I really hope its up to the NR-system so it could be corrected.

Unfortunately, the way I know Sony they're not going to do anything about the firmware unless they are under some EXTREME pressure from camera owners and/or press reviews.

So, how do we get them to correct the problem, and if they don't, is there any way to crack the firmware the way it was done with some Canon dSLR's?

We can perhaps start a petition to Sony here. We are quite some people owning the W1. Once we gather many responses we can send it to Sony. It should be clear to them that that they are not only hurting their own name but the Carl-Zeiss as well. I'm sure the Zeiss lens on W1 is a fine piece of optics, it shows very low purple fringing for instance but the lack of fine detail can make some people think that this is due to the lens (which I'm sure it is NOT)

Lets see what we can do
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 8:10 AM   #4
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Once there is such a petition, it should be posted on this forum, and DP-Review's Sony Forum (which has lots of participants). I am sure we can get at least 100 people signed.

Its just a matter of finding the right address at Sony, and to phrase the petition, preferably with "live" examples.

By the way, I just checked my W1 now, and it seems that +sharpness only improves the image, without any loss of detail. I have made a few direct comparisons to check this. Used contrast at default setting, which seems the best.

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Old Sep 23, 2004, 9:38 AM   #5
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Deadlock-83 wrote:
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Once there is such a petition, it should be posted on this forum, and DP-Review's Sony Forum (which has lots of participants). I am sure we can get at least 100 people signed.

Its just a matter of finding the right address at Sony, and to phrase the petition, preferably with "live" examples.

By the way, I just checked my W1 now, and it seems that +sharpness only improves the image, without any loss of detail. I have made a few direct comparisons to check this. Used contrast at default setting, which seems the best.
I'll be happy to participate in the petition and will donate the images posted here if needed. I can do more testing as well.After all Sony shoud be happy to receive some user feedback that will improve their products. A smaller company would have responded very quickly. It shoud be a piece of cake for the firmware programmers to correct the value for the smoothing filter in post processing- a day work including correction and testing.

About the sharpness, you are correct increasing sharpness does something similar to unsharp mask in PS, i.e. increases edge contrast but the detail lost after noise reduction cannot be recovered. I rather do it in PS afterwards it is more controllable
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 12:31 PM   #6
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Are you people kidding me? You are comparing apples and oranges. It's like comparing a high-end SLR 35mm to a mid-range point and shoot 35 mm. The P&S will never stack up. You give up a lot when you move to small, average lens, programed response in even a good p&s. that's why photogs spend the money on slrs and the time determine proper exposure, etc.

Same thing the 5050 is a high-end camera. My god, if it didn't offer better pics you'd be in trouble.

I just bought my w1 and I love it. It has short comings that could have been corrected with a more expensive, larger digicam, but I wanted a small digicam. It'd a great camera. We just need to learn to use it and overcome it's quirks.
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 1:00 PM   #7
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barkingdog wrote:
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Are you people kidding me? You are comparing apples and oranges. It's like comparing a high-end SLR 35mm to a mid-range point and shoot 35 mm. The P&S will never stack up. You give up a lot when you move to small, average lens, programed response in even a good p&s. that's why photogs spend the money on slrs and the time determine proper exposure, etc.

Same thing the 5050 is a high-end camera. My god, if it didn't offer better pics you'd be in trouble.

I just bought my w1 and I love it. It has short comings that could have been corrected with a more expensive, larger digicam, but I wanted a small digicam. It'd a great camera. We just need to learn to use it and overcome it's quirks.
Barkingdog, as I wrote in the original post comparing the two is perhaps not the best solution, but the point is that without this agressive post processing the W1 could easily deliver sharper and more detailed images. I stated that there should be some difference due to purely optical performance, but we are talking something that was overlooked by Sony engineers and that can easily be corrected without adding to the production cost of the camera. I'm sure that compared to sayIxus S500 the W1 would still look soft. Simply the engineers at Sony wanted to minimize noise and IMO they overdid it a bit. At least it would have been nice to provide an option to switch off this smoothing. As you can see from the samples the Olympus image has more detail but more noise as well. The 5050 is known for its above average noise levels, the W1 is on the other hand almost completely noise free at ISO100 and very clean at ISO200 at the expense of detail loss. The ideal solution is somewhere in the middle, perhaps closer to the settings Olympus has. Changing the filteer settings of W1 will not make it more expensive, it's just to tweak the firmware a bit, I reckon the person who created the firmware can do it in no time.
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 5:05 PM   #8
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I hear what you are saying, but my point is there tradeoffs all over. I still think it argueable that the sony is significantly softer than its peers -- other p&s. I've seen comparsions on other threads and boards, and frankly I don't see it and other posters have said similar. There is a certain group think going on here that says if everyone elses shots are soft mine must be too. There was a post that I really wish I could find where the poster was bi'chn and moaning that is shots were blurry and soft and he/she hated the digicam. he/she posted sample shots and even the vocal "sony is soft" crowd wrote back that those shots were good. Group think some times. . .

Perhaps sony went slightly overboard on noise reduction, I guess we could debate it all day, but to what end? I like the shots I've achieved with my W1 so, I'm keeping it. I knew about the potential problems going in and so should everyone else on these boards, 'cept the very early purchasers, bacause it's been covered to death.

I've been shooting with "-" sharpness, frankly and like the results even better. I'm a guy that fools around with 35mm before my W1 purchase, so that's my benchmark, and I'm still okay with the results, for it is.

What I'd perfer is real advice or tips on making the most of the present state of the digicam. Rather than silly petitions to sony. ugh.




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Old Sep 26, 2004, 11:11 AM   #9
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barkingdog wrote:
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I hear what you are saying, but my point is there tradeoffs all over. I still think it argueable that the sony is significantly softer than its peers -- other p&s. I've seen comparsions on other threads and boards, and frankly I don't see it and other posters have said similar. There is a certain group think going on here that says if everyone elses shots are soft mine must be too. There was a post that I really wish I could find where the poster was bi'chn and moaning that is shots were blurry and soft and he/she hated the digicam. he/she posted sample shots and even the vocal "sony is soft" crowd wrote back that those shots were good. Group think some times. . .

Perhaps sony went slightly overboard on noise reduction, I guess we could debate it all day, but to what end? I like the shots I've achieved with my W1 so, I'm keeping it. I knew about the potential problems going in and so should everyone else on these boards, 'cept the very early purchasers, bacause it's been covered to death.

I've been shooting with "-" sharpness, frankly and like the results even better. I'm a guy that fools around with 35mm before my W1 purchase, so that's my benchmark, and I'm still okay with the results, for it is.

What I'd perfer is real advice or tips on making the most of the present state of the digicam. Rather than silly petitions to sony. ugh.
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Well, if you feel that the idea for the petition is as you wrote "silly" OK just don't participate. If you like the results-great, continue taking pictures and be happy, but please allow for those of us that feel there is a room for improvement to discuss it and try to make Sony aware ofsome consumers opinion. What's silly for one person may be important for another, please show some tollerance. IMOmaking Sony aware will be good for both sides. We can get the updated firmware and Sony can increase their sales of W1 since right now I see many people are going to Canon for example because of this softness in W1 images. If ever a new firmware version comes out you don't need to download it, so don't worry. If you are interested to know something about improving your shooting technique with the W1 please ask, I'm sure we can discuss your questions.

BTW I'm also keeping my W1, although I can return it. Overall it's a nice camera. I should say that this lack of ultimate resolution is NOT a major flaw. With some sharpening in PS the images look very good. The noise levels are very low so even at ISO200 after sharpening the noise isn't bad. This is the first compact 5MP digicam I've used thatis fully usable at ISO200 in a way that noise is not a problem, that's an advantage for sure. So, as you can see I'm not bashing W1.
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Old Sep 29, 2004, 6:13 PM   #10
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As a mutually concerned W1 owner, my suggestion is to go to Carl Zeiss and complain about the problems caused by theirinferior lens used in the W1 -- if they go to Sony, knowing it's not an issue with their lens but rather with Sony's firmware, and demand it be fixed (lest their steller reputation be stained), Sony may actually do something (it is likely to at least get their attention!).

I just bought my W1, and love how fast it starts up andthe huge LCD, but can't stand the redeye (which is worse, much worse, than my old Cybershot P1) and the slow default shutter speeds on indoor flash pictures (which causes, in my limited experience with this camera, many fuzzy pictures).

Anyway, just my thoughts.

John.
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