Sony Cyber-shot W830 review - Quality

Quality

Sony Cyber-shot W830 vs COOLPIX S3600

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot W830 and the Nikon COOLPIX S3600 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.Both camera lenses were set to their maximum 25mm wide angle focal length and set to Program Auto exposure mode.For this test the cameras were mounted on a tripod. Image stabilisation was disabled on the COOLPIX S3600, but can’t be turned off on the Cyber-shot W830. The ISO sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting and all other settings were left on the defaults.The image above was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot W830. In Program Auto mode with the sensitivity manually set to 80 ISO the W830 metered an exposure of 1/640 at f3.3. The Nikon COOLPIX S3600, also set to 80 ISO set the exposure to 1/640 at f3.7. As usual the crops are taken from the areas marked in red above.

Overall, the results from the Sony W830 look fairly respectable. The first crop from close to the edge of the frame is, not surprisingly, the least impressive, the detail is slightly soft and there’s a little bit of red colour fringing, but the edges look reasonably crisp and clean. Moving on to the second crop from closer to the centre of the frame the detail here looks a little sharper. There’s still a softness to it though and the stonework in the church towers as well as the roof tiles in the foreground of this crop are frustratingly sludgy – there’s a lot more detail that the W830 just isn’t able to define.

The third crop is interesting because there’s just a hint of colour fringing around the vertical pole in the foreground, though this crop isn’t that close to the frame edge. The lighthouse is also a bit of a blur compared to the distinct white column that more capable sensors, even compact ones, often resolve in this test. And the final crop from close to the right edge of the frame the detail looks quite clumpy with the edges of the lamp post looking a little rough and ill-defined.

I’ve seen better results from compact sensors and there’s no getting away from the fact that packing 20 million photosites onto a compact sensor will inevitably impact negatively on image quality. That said, the results from the W830 aren’t at all bad. One thing is clear and that is these Sony W830 crops look better and show significantly more detail than those from the COOLPIX S3600 alongside.

To see how these models compare at higher sensitivities check out my Sony W830 Noise results.

Sony Cyber-shot W830
Nikon COOLPIX S3600
f3.3, 80 ISO
f3.7, 80 ISO
f3.3, 80 ISO
f3.7, 80 ISO
f3.3, 80 ISO
f3.7, 80 ISO
f3.3, 80 ISO
f3.7, 80 ISO

Sony Cyber-shot W830 vs COOLPIX S3600 noise

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions , I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot W830 and the Nikon COOLPIX S3600 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Both lenses were set to their maximum 25mm wide angle focal length and the cameras were set to Program Auto exposure mode.

The above shot was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot W830 in Program auto mode. For these tests both cameras were placed on a tripod, stabilisation was disabled on the COOLPIX S3600 but can’t be disabled on the Cyber-shot W830. However, you can turn off Dynamic Range Optimisation on the W830 so I disabled it as it can exaggerate noise. With the sensitivity set to its base 80 ISO the W830 selected an exposure of 0.6s at f3.3. The COOLPIX S3600, also set to 80 ISO, metered an exposure of 1s at f3.7.

The base 80 ISO crop from the W830 is far from noise free, though you’d need to be pixel peeping these 100 percent crops to spot it. It’s there, though, and is most visible in the white label at the top of the hymn board and in the numbers as well as the stone column. Everywhere, in other words. It’s a tiny bit worse at 100 ISO, and by 200 ISO the noise is severe enough to cause the medium sized Eucharist Prayer text to start breaking up. There’s also a little bit of smearing in this crop which is caused by noise suppression.

At 400 ISO things are beginning to look pretty mottled, but at smaller sizes you’re on fairly safe ground at any of these sensitivity settings. It’s not that 800 ISO is a game changer, just that the cumulatve effect is beginning to tell. Now the noise is vying for supremacy with the actual image data, a battle that noise wins on the next step up the sensitivity ladder at 1600 ISO.

Compared with the crops from the Sony W830 the COOLPIX S3600 crops look noisier and less detailed, at least at the lower end of the sensitivity range. At 80, 100 and 200 ISO the W830 crops are cleaner, with less noise and more detail. At 400 ISO and beyond, though, there’s not much to choose between them. The Sony W830 has the advantage, if that’s the word, of a full resolution 3200 ISO setting, but, as you can see, there’s so much noise you really can’t see very much image detail.

Now head over to my Sony W830 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions or head straight for my Sony W830 verdict.

 

Sony W830
COOLPIX S3600
80 ISO
80 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
 
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