Sony Cybershot DSC W170 | Digital Camera Review | Adjustments
In addition to the tests in practice where user friendliness, ease and sample pictures too determine the final conclusion, emphasis is also put on the technical test. This test is carried out in our DIWA Lab with standardized test procedures in consistent test surroundings. Technical tests like these do put their fingers on the spot. Yet, we must say it again; these very precise measurements of parts are not always visible with the naked eye. However, this variable will always be part of a test. In any case, this kind of test method is provably supported and therefore valuable not only for you as user, but also for the imaging industry.
Image quality of the Sony CyberShot W170
The colour reproduction of the Sony Cybershot W170 is comparable with that of the Cybershot T300, a stylish Cybershot we tested recently. Up to and including ISO 400 the colour reproduction deviates slightly compared to the reality, however, already in practice this is hard to see. From ISO 400 and higher, colour stability increases with an excellent result for the highest ISO sensitivities. As far as white balance is concerned, the auto white balance encounters some difficulties in relation to incandescent light, and will obtain the best result when manually corrected. Up to and including ISO 400 the result is fine, with an elevation at ISO 800 and 3200 at which the best performance is carried out.
ISO sensitivity on the Sony DSC-W170
The specifications of the Sony W170 show a sensitivity range of the camera that ranges from 80 to 3200 ISO. If the actual image sensor sensitivity is measured, some astonishing differences become clear. Up to and including ISO 200, there is a small difference of 3 - 13% however, at 400 and 800 ISO things go wrong with respectively 28 and 44% of difference measured in ISO values. This difference is astounding and obviously means that in practice manual exposure compensation should bring the solution. And that is just the thing you want to avoid with a clever compact camera.
Signal / noise ratio & Noise reduction system
The fact that we can hardly ever be positive about the high ISO results of a high resolution compact camera is no longer a surprise. And unfortunately this goes for the Sony Cybershot DSC-W170 too. The signal/noise ratio is fairly under control at 80 - 200 ISO. Unfortunately, from ISO 400 the camera fails. Digital noise pops up and won't be dismissed again. Noise is a returning item from ISO 400 and despite the strongly active noise reduction system, the noise remains visible. An additional effect of noise reduction is the loss of detail. It is a pity having to conclude that also the Sony W170 has become a victim of the Megapixel race. A race with no other outcome than a dead alley. The only way out is to improve the pixel quality and to stop crowding a large amount of pixels on this small a type of image sensor.
Sony CyberShot W170 dynamic range
One thing on which the Sony W170 scores well is the dynamic range. It is excellent for the sensitivities up to and including ISO 800. From ISO 800 it drops to a plain good result with 1600 and 3200 ISO as average to reasonable. An excellent result altogether, resulting in an excellent reproduction of dark areas with clear details without bleached out light areas for the aforementioned ISOs in practice.
Sony wide angle zoom & telephoto range
The Sony Cybershot W170 is equipped with a 5x optical zoom lens with a focal length of 28-140mm. Good for Sony to equip the camera with a wide angle zoom. At maximum aperture of f/3.3 the edges and the centre offer a fine sharpness. The same result is obtained up to and including 55mm with sharpness preserved. In telephoto range, the performance of the small lens becomes a lot less. Slightly blurred in the centre and visible blur towards the edges, a pity. Distortion is only visible in wide angle, the other focal lengths hardly show visible distortion, if any at all.
Chromatic aberration of the Sony 170
The last Cybershot camera (T300) that was tested in the lab, had to own up to the chromatic aberration. We were very curious to see if the Sony W170 also suffers from this effect. From the technical tests, it unfortunately occurred to be the same. Although less significantly present, the Sony Cybershot W170 is far from blameless as for chromatic aberration. In particular around the central focal point, approximately at 55mm, and lessening towards 140mm, there is a fairly large amount of visible chromatic aberration. This amount disturbs in certain situations where the effect occurs and lessens the image quality significantly. As for vignetting, Sony clearly has this under control.
Technical DIWA Test lab
Again we would like to point out to you that technical measurements carried out in a lab, do not necessarily have to match with practice. In other words, although the Sony Cybershot W170 scores average as for chromatic aberration, in practice this does not have to lead to problems while the effect only occurs in certain situations. Something that is not excusable, however, is the effect of the amount of noise at a high resolution camera. It makes the Sony Cybershot W170 less all-round than it could be.