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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 Gordon Laing, May 2010

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 vs Canon IXUS 130 / SD1400 IS Real-life resolution (default Program settings)

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To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 and Canon IXUS 130 / PowerShot SD1400 IS within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and lowest sensitivities.

The lenses were adjusted to deliver as close a field-of-view as possible; the best match was with the Sony a fraction wider, hence the slighter larger area in its crops. Each camera was set to Program mode without intervention to see how they performed with default settings.

The image above was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 at 80 ISO with an exposure of 1/125 and the lens set to 7mm f9; the original file measured 5.39MB. As stated above, we allowed each camera to automatically select its own exposure in Program mode, in order to compare how they performed under default settings.

Both cameras have just two aperture settings available at any given focal length, and choose them automatically in all of their shooting modes; there's no way to override the values chosen. As we've seen on many previous tests given this scene, the Canon chose the larger of its two aperture settings (in this case f3.5), while the Sony chose the smaller (in this case f9). Normally the W350's choice would be cause for concern as smaller apertures on compacts often result in diffraction, but we believe the Sony employs a neutral density filter to simulate a smaller aperture settings. As such we don't believe the W350's image is being compromised by its choice of a small aperture value.

The crops below are taken from the areas marked with the red squares and presented here at 100%. In the first row taken from the extreme top left corner, both cameras are suffering from some optical distortion, but the Sony Cyber-shot W350 has it much worse with a quite fuzzy-looking result. To be fair, this clears up quite well as soon as you move away from the extreme corner, and it should also be noted both cameras performed well in their corners when fully zoomed-in and fully zoomed-out. But at this particular focal length, just a couple of notches in from the widest setting, the Sony W350 is visibly softer in the extreme top left corner.

Moving away from the corners for the remaining three rows of crops though, the Sony W350 greatly improves and you can see clear differences in image processing strategies. Using their default settings, the Sony W350 is applying greater sharpening and contrast for a punchier-looking result; this is most likely thanks to its Dynamic Range Optimiser, which is on by default, so applied in this test. Canon also offers a dynamic range booster called i-Contrast, but it's off by default, so not applied here – you can see an example of it in our main review page.

The end-result with their default settings are quite different on the second row of crops where the Canon looks quite soft and muted in comparison. At first glance the Sony W350 appears preferable, but look really closely and there's actually roughly the same real-life detail present – it's just that the Sony has made it more obvious with stronger processing.

Moving onto the third row of crops, the differences become less obvious, with a similar degree of real-life detail. Pixel-peepers may however notice a little more smearing on the Sony sample, especially in foliage areas; it has a water-colour appearance at times with a loss of ultimate detail.

This smearing has also had a minor impact on the large tree in the fourth row of crops, but beyond that, both cameras are recording and delivering essentially the same degree of detail.

If you're a demanding pixel-peeper, we'd say the Canon IXUS 130 / SD1400 IS enjoys a small edge over the Sony Cyber-shot W350. There's less smearing of the finest detail and it was better-corrected in the top left corner at the focal length tested here. But the smearing in this sample was pretty minor, and the Sony optics were fine in the corners of other focal lengths tested. So unless you're a dedicated pixel-peeper who'll scrutinise their images on-screen at 100%, we'd call it a draw for outdoor shots in decent light.

But what about low-light conditions? Find out how they compare in our High ISO Noise results, or if you've seen enough, head straight to our Verdict.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350
Canon IXUS 130 / PowerShot SD1400 IS
f9, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f9, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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