Sony-DSC-P100-ColorCH.jpg

 

Below is a graph representing the color reproduction of the Sony DSC-P100 and how much the camera differs from ideal colors. The circles represent what the camera produced and the square represents the ideal color; the distance between them is the amount of error.

Sony-p100-ColorRE.jpg

 

For a point-and-shoot camera, I don’t think there is any camera on the market right now that exceeds the Sony P100 in imaging capabilities. The Sony P100 received a camera saturation value of 110.7%. While this is not something to brag about, this is a common flaw to which many digital cameras are susceptible. As the common eye has become blind to over-saturation, camera trends have unfortunately followed. This is a flaw in the P100’s imaging capabilities and if there was one thing I would alter this would have to be it.

In terms of color accuracy, the P100 is most accurate in middle blue, purple, and brown tones. The green values and red tones are most accurate when the color is closer to white. For the most part, the color representation of the P100 is incredibly strong and only seems to falter a bit with its rendition of dark green and crimson. The P100 provides accurate color rendition and imaging that can rival upper level consumer cameras, making this truly a jewel that can be stowed in your pocket.

Still Life Scene

The below image is our favorite still life scene which we photograph with every camera.

 

[

Click on the above image to see a full size version (CAUTION: It is a very large file)](../viewer.php?picture=Sony-dsc-p100-reallife.jpg)

Resolution / Sharpness ***(4.17)***

We tested the resolution of the Sony DSC-P100 using an ISO Resolution Chart and Imatest Imaging Software. The software utilizes the exposures of the chart and reads the real lines of resolution found within the image. This technique reads from the recorded image itself and is not responding to the stated capabilities of the imager. While many manufacturers state high claims for their imagers, many cameras not live up to their marketing hype, often resulting in compressed or stretched images that are not as crisp as their intended megapixels would promise.

Although there are not many cameras that match their manufacturer's proclaimed megapixel count, there is a wide range in how close the camera will come to its intended performance. Typically, anywhere above 80% of the manufacturer’s megapixel count is considered very strong while 90% is excellent. The P100 performed very well in this department, producing images with 4.17 megapixels, 83% of the boxed description. Although many may wonder why there is such a discrepancy between the camera's description and its actual performance, it is largely due to marketing intentions and loose play with decimals. However, users of the P100 have nothing to fear as this camera produces strong resolution and crisp detail in all of its images.

Noise - Auto ISO ***(6.71)***

The Sony P100 produces clear exposures in both automatic and manual ISO modes. For a $399 5.0 megapixel camera, the P100 is a tough camera to surpass. In automatic ISO mode, the P100 contains the same ISO range that is available in manual ISO; it is just controlled by the camera. Please note that the identical score to the manual section is not a mistake--the camera actually scored the same in each section. The P100 will excel in daylight and bright settings, producing images that are well exposed with minimal noise. The only flaw in the P100’s imaging capabilities occurs when the camera is pressed to perform in low light without a flash or added light source. When this occurs, a higher ISO rating is needed and some noise distortion will occur. However, as long as the ISO setting can remain under 200, the P100 will perform as well as any 5 megapixel camera around. With the added flexibility of manual ISO, this camera is a real value.

Noise - Manual ISO ***(6.71)***

When variable ISO settings are available, we test the noise produced by the camera at each of the various settings using Imatest Imaging Software. The graph below portrays the results of these tests for all the ISO settings on the Sony P100. The horizontal X-axis represents the ISO ratings while the vertical Y-axis is the resulted noise reading.

Sony-p100-nochart.jpg

From the graph above, the P100 appears to maintain low noise levels when a low ISO setting is applicable. Although it is a near unique feature for point-and-shoot cameras to include variable ISO speeds, the P100 did not produce exceptionally high quality, low noise imagery as the ISO ratings were pushed. To help read the chart, we put the noise values and ISO settings into a regression analysis to give an overall noise value. The score here indicates the P100 performs strong in extreme illumination, when a lower ISO setting is available. As with any camera, noise will increase when a higher ISO value is used and the P100’s performance clearly declines when ISO ratings are increased, which is why 400 is the highest rating available.

Speed/Timing

Start-up to First Shot*(8.83)

*Using our standard speed test the Sony DSC-P100 had a start-up to first shot time of 1.17 seconds. Compared to a host of other point-and-shoot cameras this is a very quick start-up speed.

Shot to Shot*(7.9)

*The Sony DSC-P100 was pretty average in its shot-to-shot speed with an average of 2.1 seconds between shots.

Shutter to Shot*(6.44)

*On many point-and-shoot cameras there is a noticeable lag in between pressing the shutter and taking a photograph. The Sony DSC-P100 performed well in this category, measuring 1.28 seconds.

**

Sony-dsc-p100_front.jpg
Front **(7.5)

The front of the DSC-P100 is entirely flat when the camera is off. The lens diameter is about the size of a silver dollar and extends about an inch when it’s zoomed as far as it can go. I like the fact that a little shutter cover automatically closes over the lens when the camera is turned off. This is a great feature, especially in a camera that you can expect to shove anywhere. To the left of the lens is a tiny little microphone that records sound in movie mode. The holes are so tiny that most people will not even notice it’s there. Above the microphone is the tiny little square finder window (have you noticed the trend of everything being tiny?), and next to that is the self-timer lamp/auto focus illuminator. These features are also crammed together, but the placement doesn’t really matter on this end. The only other feature on the front is the long thin flash to the left of the finder window. I like the placement of the flash because it’s out of comfortable finger range, so there’s little chance of covering it up. My only complaint about the front of the camera is that the lens might be too close to the right edge, and it’s easy to get your finger in the way of the lens.  

**

Sony-dsc-p100_back.jpg
Back **(* 7.5* )

The back of the camera is where things can get tricky, but for people who are used to small devices like cell phones or PDAs it should be business as usual. The largest thing on the back of the camera is the 1.8-inch LCD. This takes up most of the entire left side, except for the tiny little viewfinder above it. The size of the viewfinder probably won’t bother the average point-and-shooter because most people compose their images solely with the LCD screen. I was a little annoyed; I am a bit old fashioned in that I still like to stick the camera up to my face and look through the viewfinder to compose my pictures. This viewfinder is entirely too small to use, forcing even the old fogies to pull the camera away and use the LCD.

Directly to the right of the viewfinder are three tiny little lights. In this case, the size doesn’t really matter because, when lit, they’re very bright and you can’t miss them. The top light is the self-timer/recording lamp, which glows red when a shot is being recorded. The second light is the AE/AF lock lamp that turns green when the auto focus is activated before a picture is shot. The bottom light turns orange when the flash goes off or if the camera is plugged in to charge.

The two top controls on the right side of the camera, the mode dial and the zoom buttons, are pretty easy to use. The mode dial has ribs around the edges and rotates easily from mode to mode. It’s also placed where the thumb can reach it really easily. If you simply slide your thumb over to the right, you'll find the wide angle to telephoto zoom buttons pretty slick as well.

Directly below and to the left of the mode dial is the display/LCD on/off button, which allows you to toggle back and forth between the two viewing options. Although it’s small, most display/LCD buttons are located right next to the LCD, so this one was easy to find. The four-way control button is just below the center line of the camera. Each outer button has two functions. When the menu is on, they are each used to move in the direction they are facing. When the menu is off, the up button is the flash, down is self-timer, left allows you to view the image you just took and then return to shooting mode, and right is macro mode. Sony was clever in giving these each two functions and probably saved a lot of space by doing so.

The other two buttons on the bottom of the back are the menu button and the image size/delete button. This is another double-function button that allows you to specify your image size in shooting mode, and delete images in playback mode.

**

Sony-dsc-p100_left.jpg
Left Side **(8*.5*)

The left side of the DSC-P100 is simple but sweet. There are no buttons, just a curved edge with a smooth piece of plastic running up and onto the top of the camera. I think the rounded edge is a nice feature that Sony put into this model. It’s a small way of making the camera more pleasant to hold.

Right Side **(7.5)**

The right side of the camera is entirely taken up by the battery/memory stick cover. Sony designed a pretty slick cover by making a door within a door. To access the whole cavity, you slide the door down and it will snap open. You can also open the little DC in jack cover if you just want to charge the camera. This makes it so you don’t have the whole door hanging open when the camera is plugged in.  

When you open up the door, you will see three slots. The largest one on the left is for the InfoLithium NP-FR1 battery pack (R-type). It has a little gray knob that snaps into place and holds the battery in tightly. When you want to release it, you just slide the knob over and the battery pops up. To the right is the slot for the memory stick, which pops in and out when you push it. At the bottom is a little square DC in jack for plugging the camera into the wall to charge.

**

Sony-dsc-p100_right.jpg
Top **(7*.0*)

The top of the camera has the same smooth plastic strip that goes along the right side, but it stops after the shutter button. The two most important buttons are located on the top: the power button and the shutter button. The shutter button could be a little closer to the right side of the camera to make it easier to use, but I like that it’s larger than the other buttons on the camera. The power button, on the other hand, is surprisingly small for being so crucial to taking pictures, but it’s nice that Sony put a little indicator light next to it to let the user know that it’s starting up.

**Viewfinder ***(4.0)

*I am not a fan of the tiny optical viewfinder on the Sony DSC-P100. It is too small for most eyes, requiring the user to squint. You will get a headache pretty fast if you use it for more than a few minutes. I also had a problem holding it close to my face due to the length of the camera. The left side of the camera protrudes a little too far, and my nose got in the way, preventing me from being able to hold the camera close to my face comfortably. Optical viewfinders in general aren’t very accurate, giving 75-90% image coverage as opposed to electronic viewfinders that show you what the LCD screen is projecting. This can be a problem if you’re carefully composing an image, but if you’re just taking snaps it won’t be a huge deal.

**LCD Screen **(7*.0*)

The 1.8-inch, 134,000 pixel LCD is a pretty decent size for a camera this small. There were a few things I didn’t like about this particular screen. There was a slight delay before what was actually happening in front of me appeared on the screen. There is also a fair amount of solarizing which is the darkening effect that happens when you don’t look at the screen straight on. The image sharpness on the LCD screen was pretty good, but there was a delay when in playback mode which I found annoying. When you first bring up an image it appears fuzzy and then slides into focus a second later.

If you go into the Setup 1 section of the Setup menu, you are given the option of adjusting LCD backlighting from normal to bright or dark. Bright mode helps when taking photographs outdoors, but also uses the batteries up very quickly.

**Flash ***(6.5)*

The DSC-P100 allows you to choose from auto, forced flash, slow-synchro, or no flash. The effective flash range is 1.6 feet to 12.5 feet. Auto flash mode goes off automatically in lower light situations; forced flash mode goes off in every lighting situation. Slow-synchro also goes off regardless of the lighting situation, but the shutter speed is lower in this mode, allowing background objects to be lit as well. As you may have guessed, no flash is the function used to turn the automatic flash off.

**Zoom Lens ***(6.5)*

The Sony DSC-P100 follows the long line of Sony cameras equipped with the impressive Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar lens. It has an optical zoom of 3x, which is pretty standard for a camera of this class. This is the first among the Cyber-shot P-series to incorporate the Carl Zeiss, which shows that Sony is working hard to narrow the gap between high quality image producing cameras and point-and-shoot cameras. The two categories are merging fast and Sony is trying to take the lead. The digital zoom (activated through the menu) lets the camera’s zoom exceed 3x, but distorts the image by enlarging the pixels within the field of view and produces images of a much lower resolution. Aside from the 3x optical zoom, the Sony DSC-P100’s lens doesn’t offer any special features such as lens extensions or attachments that are offered in many other cameras in this range.

Model Design / Appearance (7.0)

There is no doubt that the DSC-P100 is designed for the sleek-and-trendy market. Almost every physical feature makes it fun to carry around. The body is thin and long, which makes it easy to wrap your fingers around the entire camera and grip it well. The smooth, shimmery surface adds to its sexy appeal, although it worries me a little that it could easily slide out of your hand if you weren’t paying close attention. It’s definitely a party camera that looks good in anyone’s jeans pocket and comes in red and blue as well as the standard silver. You can tell Sony is being image conscious with this camera since they are producing it in multiple colors. Although the DSC-P100 scores well in the appearance department, the very features that make it fun sometimes get in the way of the actual picture-taking.

Size / Portability*(8.0* )

In terms of portability, the DSC-P100 ranks among the best. The camera measures in at 4.5" x 2.1' x 1" (108 x 52 x 26 mm) and weighs 5.4 oz., making it slightly heavier, but not much bigger, than the average cell phone. The thin-body design can slide into any briefcase, purse, pocket, or palm, making it ideal for someone who would like to have a camera along at any point in the day without having to plan for it. The Sony DSC-T1 is but, however the DSC-P100 is quite small for its price range. There’s nothing worse than deciding you didn’t want to bother lugging around your camera or camera case and then coming across a scene you’d like to photograph. This camera has those kinds of situations in mind and it makes it easy for you to take it anywhere. Another camera in this class that is comparable in size and weight is the Sony DSC-W1 which is slightly taller and wider and weights a little over 6 oz. Other cameras such as the Nikon Coolpix 5700 and Olympus C60 don’t even compare to the portability of the Sony DSC-P100, since they both weigh over 8 oz.

Handling Ability*(7.0)*

Transporting this camera is easy and fun, but when it’s time to take pictures, some people might have a harder time than others. The control buttons are all very tiny and would be difficult for people with large fingers to use easily. The buttons' small size is also likely to pose a problem for people with poor eyesight; not only are the buttons small, but the button labels are even smaller!

The body is designed in a way that makes all the buttons accessible by your right index finger and thumb. The left half of the back of the camera is filled by the LCD screen and the lens on the front, leaving all the buttons crammed in on the right half. I found it pretty difficult to maneuver this camera with one hand because of its narrow body. With small cameras such as these, users rely heavily on their fingertips to maintain the grip. When a critical digit is occupied by buttons, the grip becomes unsteady. If you have both hands free, the left hand actually fits very comfortably on the rounded edge of the left side of the camera. There is no danger of accidentally hitting buttons, but there is an increased danger of getting a finger in front of the lens. That’s always a problem with small cameras.

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size (* 6.0* )

On the whole, the buttons on the DSC-P100 are pretty small and a little crammed together. The shutter button is nicely sized, but is a little too close to the left edge of the camera and contributes to unstable one-handed shots. Although the buttons are small, the only ones that really gave me a hard time were the four-way control buttons and the circle button in the center. I had to use my fingernails for those, and if you’re a nail-biter or you have large fingers, you might have a hard time. The mode dial is also very small, but it has a ribbed edge that makes it easy to turn.

The great thing about these small buttons and dials is that they don’t protrude and won’t get accidentally pressed or knocked out of place easily. This can be a problem with larger cameras with multiple dials and buttons.

The one function that I would have liked to see as an external button is the record mode (normal/burst/multiburst). I would think that record mode would be a better function for quick access than, say, the self-timer mode which has its own exterior button. When the record mode is hidden in the menu you have to decide what mode you want to record in well in advance. You head might be buried in a menu when a key moment passes you by and you will have missed your chance for some awesome burst shots.

**Menu ***(8.0)

*I like the way Sony approaches their menus in terms of navigation through the different settings. The icons for the different settings are shown at the bottom of the screen and, when highlighted, the different options pop up. I like that you can change many of the settings while still in recording mode and the fact that they don’t take up the entire screen. This way you can actually see on the LCD screen how each option changes the look of the image.  

Sony-dsc-p100_vanityzoom.jpg
The menu options change with each different recording mode. In program (P) and manual (M) mode, you have the option of changing the exposure, focus, metering, white balance, ISO, picture quality, recording mode, picture effect, saturation, contrast, and sharpness. In movie mode, you can change the exposure, focus, metering, white balance, and picture effects. Autofocus mode only gives the option of choosing your record mode from among normal, burst, or multiburst mode.

In playback mode, you have the option to designate a folder for your images, put a protection on certain images, select direct print options, print, create a slide show, resize images, and rotate or divide (only for movies). The scene mode (SCN) menu gives you all the options that you have in manual and program, plus the option to choose between nine different scenes: twilight, twilight portrait, landscape, soft snap, snow, beach, high-speed shutter, fireworks, and candle.

**Ease of Use ***(7.5)*

The Sony DSC-P100 is a relatively easy digital camera to operate without any difficulties. In my observations I have seen people of all ages (old technophobes and young hipsters) use the camera. This is a good sign for consumers thinking about purchasing one, and a great sign for Sony. Its small buttons and viewfinder might pose a problem for some people, but for most people it is great for everyday use.

The Sony DSC-P100’s control features are easy enough to use if you don’t know anything about photography, but it also gives you the option to explore and play around if you choose. The uncluttered mode dial and unique menu system are organized in a way that makes navigation a little easier and less confusing. The sticking point for many users is whether or not they can pick up the digital camera and take decent images without messing with any of the settings. If that is the case for you, don't worry; this digital camera can accomplish that.

**Auto Mode ***(6.5)

*The automatic mode in this camera is pretty basic, which is perfect for people who don’t want to spend any time messing with settings just to take snapshots. In terms of response time the Sony DSC-P100 performed well and is not likely to disappoint. It gives you the option of choosing the size of your image and whether or not to have the following options on or off: auto focus assist illuminator, red-eye reduction, date and time, auto review (all accessed in Set Up mode), self-timer, flash, and macro (controlled by buttons on the back of the camera). If Sony has any desire to appeal to a more advanced audience they should beef up the options available in the Auto mode. They should at least include a couple options for self-timer and auto review modes.

**Movie Mode ***(7.0)*

The movie-recording feature on this camera is pretty basic, but it’s a fun option to play with. To begin recording, you turn the mode dial to the image that looks like a filmstrip. Just as it does with still image recording, the movie mode has options to change exposure, focus, metering, white balance, picture effect, and size. The Sony DSC-P100 records movies at 30 fps (frames per second) which is becoming more common for cameras in this range and above. The image size can be set to 640 pixels (fine), 640 pixels (standard), and 160 pixels. Playback mode for movies is pretty much the same as for still images. The divide function is the only different option. Using the arrow and dot buttons (four-way arrows and the dot in the middle), you can select which part of the movie you would like to cut. When you do this the camera automatically creates new files for each section and deletes the original file. You then have the option of deleting unwanted clips and saving the ones you want.

I like the fact that the DSC-P100 allows you to record sound for the movie clips at 30 fps. You can change the volume, though it’s not impressively loud. The DSC-P100’s movie mode is nothing to write home about, and for video enthusiasts it is probably pretty disappointing, but for the average point-and-shooter I think it is a fun little tool.

Drive / Burst Mode*(7.5)

*The Sony P100 has continuous shooting capabilities. The number of shots attained in one shooting is dependant on the quality or size of the desired images. The P100 contains both burst and multiburst modes. Burst mode is available in both fine and standard shooting settings and will determine how many images are possible. While holding the shutter release button, the succession of shots is taken while showing "recording" in the LCD or viewfinder, notifying the user that Burst mode is active. While the shutter button is depressed, the maximum number of images will be recorded unless the button is released. In 5M image size, the highest quality the P100 offers, 9 images can be recorded in "fine" setting, while 15 images can be recorded in "standard" mode. In the lowest quality setting on the P100, 1M sized images allows the user to sequentially capture 32 images in "fine" setting, while 59 images can be taken in "standard" setting. There is also a VGA or "email" setting that is at reduced quality, allowing for 100 images to be captured continuously.

The P100 also offers a "multi-burst" mode, enabling 16 sequential images to be captured in rapid succession each time the shutter release button is pressed. There are shutter interval options within the multiburst mode, controlling the rate of exposure for each of the 16 frames. The intervals offered are 1/7.5, 1/15, and 1/30.

**Playback Mode **(7.0)

The playback mode has seven still image options (and one movie mode option) accessible through the menu. The first is the folder option, which allows you to organize your saved images by saving them in different folders. (To create new folders, you need to go into setup mode under the memory stick tool.) The next option is to protect an image to prevent it from being accidentally erased. A little icon of a key should be displayed on the image when the action is complete.

The DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) can be used to indicate images that you want to print on a PictBridge compliant printer or in a professional shop. This is a pretty basic option, and doesn’t allow you to choose the number of images. The Print option is used when the camera is connected to a PictBridge compliant printer. It gives you the option of printing the image you’re currently on, or choosing one that you have selected in DPOF mode.

The slide show option allows you to create a presentation of images stored on your memory stick. Within the slide show function, you can choose which images to include (either all the images on the card or just those in certain folders), whether you want them to repeat in a continuous loop, and the interval at which they stay onscreen (3 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, 30 sec, or one minute).

The playback mode of the DSC-P100 allows you to make a few basic image editing changes. By pressing the zoom button, you can enlarge your image from its original form. If you press menu, it gives you the option to trim the image to its new size. This is a nice function because it also saves the original image. Next on the menu is the option to choose the image size from VGA (email=640 x 480), 1M (1280 x 960), 3M (2048 x 1536), and 5M (2592 x 1944). And, finally, you can rotate your image using the left and right arrows. Keep on pressing the buttons if you wish to rotate it more than 90 degrees.

**Custom Image Presets ***(7.5)*

The Sony DSC-P100 has a slightly different way of arranging their auto scene modes. Instead of having a separate mode for each scene there is a Scene Selection mode with 9 different selections within: twilight, twilight portrait, landscape, soft snap, snow, beach, high-speed shutter, fireworks, and candle mode. Once you turn to the scene selection mode you have to go into the menu to choose your desired mode. This is kind of a cumbersome way of doing this, but since the Sony DSC-P100 has so many options available it makes more sense than to make a button/dial for each one. The modes offered are pretty standard for digital cameras, but it's a good number for such a small camera.

**Manual Control Options

**The following manual control settings are accessible through the menu (manual, program, and scene modes): ISO, white balance, exposure, and metering. I really like how Sony groups all of these together and puts them in a pop-up menu form. It makes for easy navigation in which you can still view the image/scene underneath the menu. In many cameras the manual controls are scattered around throughout the buttons and menus, forcing you search around to access them all.

**Focus ***

Auto (7.0)*

The P100 has a couple of different methods for handling automatic focus. There is a 'multipoint' setting that calculates distance from five sections of the composition: the left position of the frame, the right, the top, bottom, and the center of the image. This provides immediate auto focusing regardless of the subject’s placement in the frame. Often, when a subject is off center, many imagers will not readjust the focus point and the subject will appear blurred. This creates a problem for many photographers who do not like symmetry in their images and try to offset monotonous centering by moving the subject to a different segment of the frame. The P100 is intended to adapt to asymmetrical compositions by selection. When in multipoint focusing mode, a green box will appear in the LCD or viewfinder that the viewer can move to the area they desire as the focal point. This will ensure that the intended subject is in focus, providing an image that can later be cropped or framed externally if desired.

There is also a center AF mode that will pick out the dominant subject in the center of the frame and focus on it. This is a typical mode of many cameras and is an essential feature, through rather limiting if the only means of focusing that the user must rely on.

In addition, the Sony DSC-P100 also has "Single" and "Monitoring" settings within the automatic focusing mode. The single focus setting is designed for shooting subjects at a fixed distance. When set on single, the camera will not continue to refocus prior to the shutter release, but rather when the shutter is partially depressed, the AF lock will kick in and the focus will be locked. The monitoring automatic focus setting is intended for time conservation and instant frame captures, continually refocusing the image as various objects enter the frame. This allows for immediate focusing and will not have the normal lag time that occurs when the focus is reliant on the shutter release button.

Manual (0.0)

*In addition to the Sony DSC-P100's AF system there is the option to have fixed focusing at 0.5M, 1M, 3M, 7M, or infinity. This is an interesting option to give consumers, but it doesn't replace the ability to manually adjust the digital camera's focusing, an option that the Sony DSC-P100 unfortunately lacks.
***

****Metering*****(6.0)

*There are two different metering modes available through the menu on the Sony DSC-P100: spot metering and multi-metering. Multi-metering is the default setting that divides the image into regions and determines a balanced exposure. Spot metering, designed for difficult or specific lighting situations, allows you to specify what the camera should expose for. I would have liked to see at least one other metering option on this camera to extend the control a little further. The lack of control within the metering mode might have to be compensated for with the other manual controls such as exposure (see below). However, this will only have to be for the more extreme settings. You won’t have a problem getting an accurate meter reading for everyday snapshots.

****Exposure*****(7.0)

The DSC-P100 offers the option of adjusting the exposure on any image if proper exposure can’t be obtained to begin with due to dramatic scene conditions. You can compensate for incorrect exposure through the menu and manually over- or underexpose the image. The exposure values are available in 1/3 EV increments ranging from -2.0 to +2.0.This is a pretty standard amount of control that will serve the needs of most users.***

****White Balance*****(4.0)

Sony gives you the option of five white balance settings when the flash is turned off: auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, and incandescent. I’m impressed that such a tiny camera gives you so many options. This makes me wonder, however. With all these preset options available, why not throw in the option to do custom white balancing? Most point-and-shooters won’t even explore white balance too much, so I’m sure the available options are fine for most. However, if you need manual control of white balance (which most users will in fact need) you are going to run into problems with the inability to set white balance on the Sony DSC-P100. Sony seems to be in the gray area between dumbed-down point-and-shoot and mid-ranged advanced digital camera. They are trying to appeal to both crowds and in some respects they’re not succeeding.***

****ISO *****(6.0)*

The ISO in both program and manual modes ranges from 400 to 100, with an auto ISO function as well. For a point-and-shoot camera of this level, I think this a good amount of ISO control. (See previous testing for our ISO noise results.) In scene mode there is only the option for auto ISO. I am confused as to why they only gave one option for this mode in particular.

****Shutter Speed*****(6.0)

The option to adjust the shutter speed (along with the aperture) is only available in manual mode. The shutter speed values appear in white on the bottom right of the screen.To activate numbers and give yourself the option of adjusting them, you need to push the little button in the center of the four-way control and use the arrows to change your values.The shutter speed ranges from 1/8-1/1000 sec. in auto, 2-1/1000 sec. in twilight, and 30-1/1000 in manual mode.***

****Aperture****(7*.0)

*As with the shutter speed, the aperture (F-stop) values appear in white on the bottom right of the screen. You activate and adjust them as you do with the shutter speed (see above). I like the way Sony sets this up. I had to search through the manual to figure out how to do it, but once I learned it was easy to navigate. The aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/5.6 at a wide angle and f/5.2 to f/10 at telephoto.


****Picture Quality / Size Options *****(5.0)*

The DSC-P100 gives the user the option of taking standard quality or fine quality pictures. If space is not a problem for you I would always go for the fine quality image. You will be assured to get the best quality that the camera can produce. However, if you really need that extra space and you don’t think you’ll be needing large prints of your images, then the standard image quality won’t make you too disappointed. This is a pretty skimpy selection given by the Sony DSC-P100. There are many digital cameras on the market today that offer four or more quality options.

The Sony DSC-P100 offers 4 different still image sizes: 1600 x 1200 (2M), 2048 x 1536 (3M), 2592 x 1728 (3:2), 2592 x 1944 (5M). It is pretty standard to offer multiple options in this camera range, and Sony is up to par with other 5 megapixel digital cameras.****

****Picture Effect Modes*****(6.5)

*The picture effect mode allows you to choose to change images to either sepia-tone or black-and-white. The Sony DSC-P100 also gives the user the option of adjusting the image's saturation, contrast, and sharpness in the menu by changing the default from zero to positive or negative values. This is a simple way to make your pictures a little different without having to know that much about photography. Most professional users will likely want to do these types of effects in an image editing program.

******Connectivity**

*****Software**(6.0)*

To connect your Sony DSC-P100 to your computer you use the USB multi connector port on the bottom of the camera and connect it to the USB drive on your computer. The viewing software that comes along with the DSC-P100 is a really basic package called "Picture Package." It gives you the option to view your images, make a CD, and create a slide show. I was really surprised at how little I could do with this software. It doesn’t offer more options than what most computers can do already. Most digital camera buyers would like to do some sort of editing and this isn’t possible with this software. If you’re looking to make some changes you might want to look into buying another package such as Adobe Photoshop.

Jacks, Ports, Plugs*(6.5)*

The Sony DSC-P100 houses external connections in two spots: behind the door on the right side of the camera and on the bottom of the camera. The DC in jack is located next to the memory stick drive behind the terminal door. The DC in jack uses the included DC plug and AC adapter to connect to an outlet. Both USB and A/V connections can be made with the multi connector jack on the bottom of the camera. Using the USB multi connector (included) you can connect to any computer or PictBridge compatible printer. Using the included A/V multi connector you can connect your Sony DSC-P100 to a TV to view your images on a larger screen.

Direct Print Options*(4.0)

*The DSC-P100 can be connected to any PictBridge compatible computer. PictBridge is an industry standard printer that can be used with any brand of camera. This is a nice system that allows you to print single images or index prints. In the DPOF section of the playback menu you can select which images to print and the number of sheets of each image (up to 20).

Although the PictBridge system is widely available, Sony doesn’t offer many other options beyond their own products. If you want to stay within the Sony brand, they offer a pretty comprehensive portable printer that retails for around $180. The Sony DPP-EX50 Picture Station allows you to edit your images, add text and other creative features, and print high quality pictures.

Memory (5.5)

The Sony DSC-P100 uses a memory stick to store its images, which is a pretty robust and reliable media. The camera comes with a 32MB card which isn’t bad compared to some other bundles, but it’s almost standard procedure to buy a larger card right away. The memory stick format is only compatible with Sony products, but it spans the range of Sony’s consumer electronic manufacturing line. If you’re a Sony junkie life couldn’t be sweeter, but if you’re not married to the company then you might get a little annoyed. Many of the higher-end Sony digital cameras have dual media capabilities (such as the Sony DSC-F828) in which you can use both a MemoryStick and a CompactFlash card. I would have liked to see this option in the Sony DSC-P100 as well. What about the little guys, Sony?

******Other features *******(6.0)*

Sony offers a Cyber-shot Station CSS-PHA that connects the camera to a TV or PC computer to play back images while also charging the camera’s batteries. The camera can also be connected to a PictBridge compatible printer (e.g. Sony Picture Station DPP-EX50) and is operable via remote control.



******Value *******(8.0**)*

Based on the comparisons above, the Sony DSC-P100 stacks up fine against the competition in both price ($399) and features. It’s cheaper than a lot of 5 megapixel cameras in its class, but doesn’t lack any of the crucial controls or quality. The Sony DSC-P100’s biggest value feature is its size and fun factor. This is the camera for you if you want to have fun taking photos and look cute doing it. Who says you can’t buy happiness?********

******Comparisons

Sony-DSC-P10.jpg
***Sony DSC-P10-- The Sony DSC-P100 falls into the middle range of digital cameras and therefore has a lot of competition with similar features and competitive prices. Even within its own brand there are many models to choose from. When the Sony DSC-P100 came out on the market it replaced the DSC-P10. The DSC-P100 is similar in many ways, but Sony improved upon it in a few different areas. Although the two cameras have roughly the same megapixel count and many of the same options and features, the DSC-P100 boasts a better image quality with the Carl Zeiss Lens. Sony also caved towards popular demand by creating more options, increasing the camera’s speed, and giving it a thinner, lighter package. The Sony DSC-P100 also has a 1.8" LCD screen, which is a significant improvement to the 1.5" LCD screen on the P10.*******


*****

Sony-DSC-W1.jpg
******Sony DSC-W1-- Another comparable camera put out by Sony is the DSC-W1 ($399). This camera also has 5 megapixels and, like the DSC-P100, a Carl Zeiss lens. The defining feature of the DSC- W1 is its large 2.5" LCD screen, which is great for people who have poor eyesight. The DSC-W1 also uses AA batteries, a useful advantage when you’re traveling abroad and can’t plug in your recharger. These two major differences also contribute to the DSC-W1’s slightly larger size and weight. Measuring 3.6" x 2.4" x 1.4" the DSC-W1 is slightly shorter in length, taller in height, and wider than the DSC-P100, and weighs an ounce and a half more. Since this size is pretty comparable to the Sony DSC-P100 it probably won’t be the deciding factor for most people. If a larger LCD screen appeals to you I would suggest the Sony DSC-W1 over the DSC-P100. It’s a significant feature for a camera this size.*******


*****

Nikon-Coolpix-5200.jpg
******Nikon Coolpix 5200-- The Nikon Coolpix 5200 ($499) is a very similar camera in megapixels, general features, and size, but there are few features that the Coolpix doesn't have. For example the LCD screen is only 1.5" with a resolution of 110,000. This pales in comparison to the Sony DSC-P100’s 1.8" LCD at 134,000 pixel resolution. The Nikon Coolpix 5200 is also a larger camera (approximately the size and weight of the Sony DSC-W1) with a small protruding handgrip that aids in shooting, but detracts from portability. The unique feature that the Nikon 5200 has that others in its class don’t is auto red-eye fix. This allows you to take out red-eye right in the camera, a feature that would be useful for those (like me!) who always seem to look possessed in flash pictures. The Nikon Coolpix 5200 also has a manual white balance function that I would have liked to see in the Sony DSC-P100. The Nikon Coolpix is a bit more expensive than the Sony DSC-P100, but I would go for it if you care about the little bit of extra control and red-eye capabilities.*******


*****

Olympus-C-60.jpg
******Olympus C60-- In the Olympus line of point-and-shoot cameras, the C60 ($449) model is pretty comparable to the Sony DSC-P100. Although the Olympus offers more megapixels (5.9) and some increased options (a lower ISO of 64, and a super high resolution setting) it lacks in other areas that the DSC-P100 doesn’t. The movie mode in the Olympus C60 is a little disappointing at 15 fps (frames per second) when compared to 30 fps in the Sony cameras and many others in this range. The Olympus is also a bit heftier to carry around at 8.1 oz. compared to the flyweight 5.4 oz. Sony DSC-P100. Similar to the Nikon Coolpix 5700, the Olympus is a better deal in terms of increased control, but I wouldn’t get it if portability is your big concern. It’s hard to beat the Sony DSC-P100 in size.*******


*****

Konica-Minolta-Dimage-G500.jpg
******Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500-- Another similar camera that has a hard time next to the DSC-P100 is Konica Minolta’s DiMAGE G500($449). This camera has a comparable zoom (3x) and megapixel count (5.0), but suffers from some of the same problems as the Olympus C60: larger size (8.3 oz.) and poor movie quality (15 fps rate). It also has a smaller 1.5" LCD screen with a mere 118,000 pixels of resolution. However, the G500 has three image quality modes (one more than the DSC-P100), and has an impressively low ISO option of 50. The Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500 clearly has more image quality options than the Sony DSC P100, but lacks in portability.*******


*****

Pentax-Optio-450.jpg
******Pentax Optio 450-- Another similarly priced point-and-shoot camera is the Pentax Optio 450 ($388). This camera has a slightly smaller megapixel count at 4.0 as well as a small 1.5" LCD screen, but offers more options than the previous models. The Pentax Optio 450 has a 5x zoom lens and a shutter capability of 1/4000 of a second (much higher than the 1/1000 capability in previous models!). It also has Panorama Assist, 3D, and Digital Filter modes that you don’t see in many cameras at this range. In terms of portability, however, the Pentax Optio 450 is on the larger end of the middle range, measuring 3.9"x 2.3"x 1.6" and weighing 8.8 oz. Again, more options, but almost 9 oz. is too much. Who would carry that around in a shirt pocket?*******


*****

Canon-S60.jpg
******Canon S60-- Back up into the 5 megapixel range the Canon S60 ($449) is a tough competitor with a 1.8" LCD screen and 3.6x zoom. Similar to the Pentax Optio 450, the S60 has panoramic capabilities and larger shutter speed capabilities than the Sony DSC-P100 (the S60 can reach up to 1/2000 sec). The unique features of the Canon S60 are RAW format capabilities, an evaluative metering mode, and a new underwater white balancing mode. For a little bit more money the Canon S60 clearly has more options. Although it is a slightly larger and heavier digital camera you might get more bang for your buck.*******


*****

Kodak-LS753.jpg
******Kodak EasyShare LS753-- *And finally in Kodak’s EasyShare line there is the LS753 digital camera. This 5 megapixel camera is the only one to offer ISO settings of 80 and 800. It has an impressive maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 and a 134,000 pixel 1.8" LCD screen that can be viewed well both in and out of doors. The lens capabilities of the LS753 are not as impressive as the DSC DSC-P100, with a zoom of 2.8x and a small lowest aperture of f/3.0 (compared to f/2.8 on the DSC-P100). If you know you’re going to be doing a lot of outside shots the Kodak LS753 may be your best bet. Solarizing can impede your LCD viewing, but Kodak does a great job of compensating for that.

******Who It’s For**

*****Point-and-Shooters--* The Sony DSC-P100 is definitely a good camera for point-and-shooters. It has the portability that most people want in a point-and-shoot camera and is relatively easy to learn how to use. It is a camera that you could pick up and shoot with without having to spend hours fussing with the manual and settings. The most important thing is it produces good pictures, something that everyone wants in a camera.

Budget Consumers-- The Sony DSC-P100 is not the cheapest camera out there, but its prices are pretty competitive for the camera you’re going to get. If you want a really cheap camera you will have to get one with a lower image quality. That said, if you’re in the mid-$300 range the DSC-P100 is in your ballpark.

Gadget Freaks-- Although the Sony DSC-P100 is primarily a point-and-shoot camera is has a surprising number of features to play around with. It has a variety of options for the zoom, flash, exposure settings, and movie mode, but if you’re looking for something with all the bells and whistles you’re going to have to go a step up.

Manual Control Freaks-- The Sony DSC-P100 is not the farthest thing from a camera with full manual capabilities, but it’s still a far cry from it. There are a lot of options to satisfy the appetite of a novice or slight enthusiast, but it will leave the higher-end consumers feeling empty.

Pros / Serious Hobbyists-- Definitely not a serious photographer’s choice. Take one look at the camera and you’ll know why. Sony designed the DSC-P100 with mid-levelers in mind and the buck stops there.




******Conclusion**

****Although the Sony DSC-P100 is not the first camera to go to for earth shattering image accuracy and professional control options, it is one of the first cameras to go to for great snapshots and portability. It’s a fun camera that has both stylish point-and-shooters and conscious picture-takers in mind. Sony was obviously factoring in a wide variety of people and this is apparent in its feature options and sleek appearance. If you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated keep on looking, but I have a feeling there are a lot of people that will be perfectly satisfied with Sony’s DSC-P100.



******Spec Table******


Meet the tester

Elena Rue

Elena Rue

Editor

Elena Rue is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Elena Rue's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

Shoot us an email