Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured with the lens set to around 100mm (equivalent) at f/5.6. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.

Noise is tamed by Sony’s in-camera adaptive noise-reduction feature. The greatest amount of noise reduction is applied to areas with the least amount of detail. For example, a polished piece of metal typically has little detail, so the noise reduction will smooth the area and reduce noise. Around distinct edges and areas of heavy detail less noise reduction is applied, causing these areas to be noisier but retaining optimum detail and sharpness.

At ISO 80 hints of luminous noise start to appear around areas of high detail and on solid edges, while less detailed areas look smooth. In my opinion, throughout the lower sensitivity ranges this makes images look better.

After ISO 3200 the camera uses multi-frame noise reduction. It stacks six images on top of each other to reduce the amount of noise. This works effectively so long as the subjects are not moving at speed. ISO 3200 and above really tests the small sensor in the HX50, with images often losing lots of detail and appearing smudgy due to the in-camera noise reduction.

Shooting at ISO 400 achieves a comfortable balance between both speed and noise. Images are clear and the noise reduction is evident, but it doesn’t become an issue until ISO 800 and above. For most of my shooting the ISO setting rarely went above ISO 400.

Images: The highlighted area in the top image, can be seen enlarged in the bottom image. Although the results of our resolution charts are not that impressive, the HX50 is still capable of resolving some fine detail, such as in this macro shot of mint leaves

One of the things that really stood out for me was the detail the HX50 resolved with macro subjects. I photographed mint leaves at a focal length of around 10cm and found that even the tiny hairs on the stems of the mint leaves were sharp.

Slight purple fringing was present at the edges of some images, although it looks as though some in-camera reduction has taken place to make it softer.

Images: The highlighted area in the top image, can be seen enlarged in the bottom image. The slightly purple fringing can be seen in the edges of high-contrast scenes

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9