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Sony DSC W7 AF Illuminator focus problem

by Judesman / December 7, 2006 12:16 AM PST

I have a Sony DSC W7. Generally I am satisfied with the results; however I have serious problems with pictures taken in low light using the AF Illuminator. I find it very difficult to get the subject (people or a group of people) in focus. The problem is that the result, viewed on the LCD Screen does not give any indication of a problem. It isn't until you view the picture on a computer that you realise that the picture is out of focus. There is terribe shutter delay but I am satisfied that it is not a shake problem as in many photographs the background will be in focus. The problem only seems to occur when the illuminator is in use.

Does anyone have an explanation or experience the same problem with a Sony camera.

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Sony W7
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 7, 2006 6:06 AM PST

The W7 has a relatively short shutter lag.
Which makes it sound as if the autofocus is having problems being able to lock.

Reviews show that the autofocus works pretty good on that camera.

It is possible that camera movement is causing the autofocus to "hunt".

Try using a tripod or setting the camera on a solid surface.
See if you get better results that way.


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I think the illuminator is the problem because
by Judesman / December 7, 2006 10:15 PM PST
In reply to: Sony W7

using flash without the illuminator is fine, everything is in focus and the only time that shutter lag is a problem is with the illuminator in use.

The problem is that it is not very practical to use a tripod at parties and other social occasions when you want to take a few quick pictures.

Thanks for your reply.

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Low Light Sony W7
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 8, 2006 12:00 AM PST

OK, it you get good photos with the flash, I think we are back to the real problem.

The Sony W1, W5, W7, P100, P150 and P200 receive lots of complaints about low light (without flash) situations.
It is a combination of camera design and camera firmware.

Those cameras will select a slow shutter speed (1/30th of a second or slower), in situations other cameras would pick a faster shutter speed.

There is not a fix for the problem.

You can check the shutter speed by examining the EXIF information that is stored in all digital cameras image files. Most photo software will have a method of reading the EXIF information.

Any shutter speed of 1/30th of a second and slower is subject to image blur due to camera movement.


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Looking at some problem pictures I see
by Judesman / December 8, 2006 4:15 AM PST
In reply to: Low Light Sony W7

that they were taken at 1/40th second @ f2.8 using ISO 100. However there is also another picture taken at the same exposure WITHOUT the illuminator that is perfect. Having said that I think I can manually set the ISO to 200 or 400 and that might increase the shutter speed. I will see what happens. What does EXIF mean?

Thanks for your help it is appreciated.

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ISO 100 or ISO 400, the exposure doesn't change.
by Judesman / December 8, 2006 5:48 AM PST

I should have checked this before my previous post but I have just taken two pictures of the same subject, with the flash, in identical lighting. One using ISO 100 the other ISO 400 both pictures exposed at 1/40th at f 2.8. I do not understand that because I thought that if the ISO increased then the exposure would be adjusted to compensate. So changing the ISO does not solve the problem.

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Try it without the flash.
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 8, 2006 8:56 AM PST

The flash will automatically adjust its brightness to compensate for the lighting condition and the camera settings.

Where the W7 has a problem is without the flash.

Many people used the manual setting to get around the problem.
Just as you did, they raised the ISO setting.

If the aperture stays at f2.8:
If you have a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second and raise the ISO setting from 100 to 200, the shutter speed should change to 1/80th of a second. If you changed it to 400 the shutter speed should be 1/160th of a second.

But that must be done without flash.
Flash has it own little brain that can adjust brightness of the flash.
And apparently the firmware in the camera is going to select 1/40th of a second anytime you use flash. Most cameras use 1/60th of a second for flash. The very expensive cameras use an even faster shutter speed for flash

I believe the early W1 cameras used 1/30th of a second for flash and people were getting blurry photos, even with flash. They must have changed it to 1/40th of a second in the later cameras in the "W" series.

What does EXIF mean?

Here is a link:,2542,t=EXIF&i=42848,00.asp


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Without flash, the camera responds correctly to
by Judesman / December 9, 2006 2:29 AM PST

changes in the ISO setting. Flash pictures without the illuminator seem to be OK. But looking back at all my flash/illuminator pictures there is a focus problem. In most of the pictures the background is sharp but the subject is out of focus. I will try using the viewfinder instead of the LCD and see what happens. My old Minolta XD7 took flash pictures at 1/100th second. Now that was a great camera.

Thanks for the EXIF link, and your help, all appreciated.

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Slow Sync
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 9, 2006 4:59 AM PST

Most cameras use a faster shutter speed during flash to ensure that you get a blur free shot. But this may cause the often seen result where the subject is well lit, but the area behind the subject is totally black.

To get better lighting of the areas behind the main subject, Sony is using a slow shutter speed on flash. Some cameras have a setting to do is called slow sync.

But slow shutter speeds during flash opens you up to blurring due to camera movement.

I don't agree with Sony on several decisions they made on that series of cameras. They do very well in daylight but are substandard at night.

Another gripe about that series of cameras is action shots.
People have reported that it is impossible to take a picture of action without getting motion blur by the subject.


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The DSC W7 is still under warranty so I may
by Judesman / December 10, 2006 12:15 AM PST
In reply to: Slow Sync

see what the supplier has to say about this. Thanks for your replies.

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