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HolidayBuyer's Guide

ISO sensitivity comparison

Noise, ISO 3200 JPEG

Handheld Twilight

Sharpness

Partial color (yellow) Picture Effect

Toy Camera Picture Effect

Andy Warhol in Pop Color Picture Effect

Dynamic range

Reds

Color

Distortion, 18-55mm kit lens

Fringing, 18-55mm kit lens

Bokeh, 18-55mm lens

The camera's noise profile is quite good up through ISO 400. Photos still look good at ISO 800, though you can start to see some mottling from the noise-reduction algorithms; by ISO 1600, detail degradation becomes visible.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
Since I'm still waiting for software raw support, I can only comment on the camera's built-in noise reduction. It does a solid job at ISO 3200--not clean, but still usable in many circumstances.

(1/30 sec, f4.0, AWB, spot metering, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The latest iteration of Sony's Handheld Twilight mode automatically combines six exposures to obtain better exposures in low light than you might otherwise get. It does a nice job, and there's less performance overhead than with the older algorithm, making it a lot more useful.

(1/60 sec, f3.5, AWB, evaluative metering, 18-55mm lens at 18mm, ISO 5000)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Sony balances the default sharpness settings very well. Even fine details don't look oversharpened, but the overall JPEGs come out of the camera sharp enough to go straight to prints.

(1/160 sec, f6.3, ISO 200, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 43mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
I'd really like the ability to fine-tune some of the special effects. For instance, here I wish I could have made the camera's definition of yellow a little fuzzier.

(1/160 sec, f7.1, ISO 200, evaluative metering, AWB)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
(1/200 sec, f8, ISO 200, evaluative metering, AWB)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
I thought it fitting to photograph Andy Warhol with the Pop Color setting.

(1/500 sec, f8, ISO 200, evaluative metering, AWB)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The C3 delivers a very nice tonality and tonal range right out of the camera.

(1/100 sec, f20, ISO 200, evaluative metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 21mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The camera does an excellent job with reds. The hue may be slightly off (which is common in digital cameras), but this high-saturation, bright exposure displays exceptionally good detail rendering.

(1/100 sec, f10, ISO 200, evaluative metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 40mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The C3 renders very good color, even in its default settings, which tend to push the saturation a bit. I remain peeved that Sony doesn't offer any neutral alternatives, though.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The kit lens distortion is so conspicuous I thought I'd botched the shot. Then I went back to my shots and comments on the lens from the NEX-5 review: "At its widest angle, the 18-55mm kit lens displays some of the worst barrel distortion we've seen for a nonsnapshot camera in a while. Goodbye, straight lines."

(1/13 sec, f13 ISO 200, spot metering, AWB)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The lens' chromatic aberration is quite noticeable. As expected, it's worst on these high-contrast edges, but it's obvious on edges in darker areas as well.

(1/200 sec, f9 ISO 200, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
For all its other flaws, the kit lens renders soft, smooth out-of-focus highlights.

(1/200 sec, f5.6 ISO 200, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 30mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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