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Sony DSC-W200 (1 Viewer)

Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
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Yesterday I bought the Sony DSC-W200, succumbing to the allure of 12.1 MP, compared to the six MP of my Fuji F-30. The F-30 has many good qualities, which have been discussed and compared by Neil and others who use them. Of the few I didn't like, Neil highlights the big one: burst mode resets to single-frame after either playback review, or power off. Fuji badly needs the Oly feature of a "My Mode" setting to remember your preferred shooting settings. The other I didn't like was you can not turn off the 2.5" LCD (sleep mode) while leaving the lens extended and ready to shoot... which means you turn the camera off instead, which means you lose the settings... again!!

But I have also been frustrated at the six MP limit in two ways: 1) make a good 8x10" print with severe cropping, and 2) some print editors and some print contests such as Wild Bird Magazine's annual photo contest (which includes a digiscoping category now) require at least 300dpi resolution in a 6x8" print size. I was only rarely able to achieve this, particularly with smaller songbirds.. had to get close and nearly fill the frame. On the other hand some print editors I deal with could care less about resolution as long as their publication looks good with the photo.

My first brief test of the W200 yielded only a Song Sparrow on a chair. I posted it to my Gallery. Generally, like the W100 Forum threads report, it's a very good digiscoping camera. I have to agree that Zeiss lens slightly beats both Fuji and Olympus.. all good lenses, so that's saying a great deal. The 200 powers up fast, shutter lag very fast, screen turns off as well as two other screen viewing settings, and burst mode very fast. An alert.. I did heed store staff and online Reviewers advice to buy a fast Mem Stick Pro Duo card.. the SanDisk Extreme III (120x). The compressed file at 12MP is about 3.5 MB, but the burst feature so fast you want to maximize it with a fast card. As I note in my Gallery post, I still need to learn a lot about the camera, but first day brief shooting was very encouraging.

Oh.. for us digiscopers re. mounts for W200. I checked the lens for in-out actions (external focus mechanism) during zoom up and down. If I set lens front about 1/8" back from my e.p. glass at full wide, it will creep back (away from scope) with each initial zoom step for the first few steps, then move forward to scope for the next several until almost touching the glass at 2.5X. The reversal point is just after the third "tap" of zoom to 1.7X. In other words you could put it up to the e.p. at full wide and zoom only until 1.7, the third tap. However with my 32X e.p. on Kowa 824 and 1/8" back at full wide, I get zero vignette from full wide until 2.5 zoom at which point I would have to readjust the adapter/mount to zoom further and stay clear of the eyepiece.

BTW, I took a few photos of my wife indoors with flash for her music web site, and the Sony does the best job of skin tones, "natural and pleasing" as the reviewers like to say, of any digital I've had, and this is my fourth, but my first Sony. I took it without flash, and the white balance set to auto, looked absolutely spot on, that is, just as I would want it.
-Steve B.
 

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markv

Member
Hi Steve,
I have been going to purchase the sony w200 but having read some of the recent reports decided to wait. I was so pleased to read your thread that I registered so I could respond.
I look forward to your further reports (asap) as I need to make a decision and buy the adaptors etc before I go on holiday next month.
Your first pic looks very promising, what settings did you use?
I want to use the camera with my Zeiss Diascope 85, have had a go recently with my old sony cybershot p5 3.2m with reasonable results but find it frustrating as the battery does not last very long so time for the upgrade. Look forward to more posts from you.
Regards,
Mark.
 

Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
Supporter
I'm using both the "P" program setting which allows you to choose ISO and many other parameters; and also the full manual setting. Flash off of course. I'm using the focus setting marked with infinity symbol.. I don't know it's for sure the best way, but it eliminates the constant autofocusing. I believe any of the preset distance focus settings will do this, and there are about five from 1 meter to infinity. Very nice feature. The burst mode is incredible with this camera and a "high speed" Memory Stick Pro Duo card. It just keeps shooting and shooting and the buffer never seems to fill or write speed stop the flow... and that's at full 12 MP res.

I forgot to mention I was leary looking at the camera in store of the skinny shutter button instead of the round kind.. because I use a cable plunger shutter release. I'm doing fine with it, but it does take some care aligning the camera with the eyepiece AND the cable release.. but that's with my swivel away adapter I made. The lens barrel appears to simply snap-on the available wide and telephoto lens and filter adapters available. There's also the underwater housing from Sony.

I shot some more photos today and may get a few up by tomorrow. I plan to chase a Pileated Woodpecker seen on our property today; tomorrow with the new setup. We always say shoot lots and lots of frames and have a big memory card.. but I'm still in shock at how easily I can rack up 100 shots with the burst and card in this camera. How would I go on a trip and not spend all my time editing to the best shots? The 2 GB card will hold about 416 12 MP shots. If I can find a piggyback card adapter that transforms the Mem Stick Pro Duo into a Compact Flash card look alike, I can then download into my MP2 player's 30GB drive on longer trips, which is what I used to do with my Oly Xd cards. If anyone knows there is such a piggyback adapter to CF, please respond here. In fact it can take the old memory stick type and work because the Pro Duo comes with a piggyback to that style card for card readers such as the one built into my PC. Steve B
 

robert s

Birding Maniac
Sony DSC W200

I just bought it and after I charge the battery I`m going to take a few hundred shots and whey`ll take it from there. It looks very promising especially since it has prefocused distances. No auto focus problems to worry about. Tomorrow I`ll add to this post and throw up some easy backyard feeder area shots and hopefully It`ll be the next best diging camera.:t:
 

robert s

Birding Maniac
First day with W200

Well here`s three shots from today. It looks very good so far.
 

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Neil

Well-known member
The images from the camera seem very saturated. Is this a selectable function in the camera , like the Fuji "Chrome" setting?
What adapter are you using for it?
I like the idea of 12 megs too. Neil.

ps I picked up a Nikon P5000 yesterday and will post some photos when I get the adapter.
 

Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
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Here's a digiscope from today, shot on Program AE, with ISO 100 at 1/60 sec. Focus set infinity. I've only had two days of brief shooting and I think I have more experimenting to do with various functions. The manual says the optical steady-shot may not work for slower shutter speeds, and I think there's a little icon on the screen when it's operating. I keep it set for "shooting" rather than full-time, so when the shutter's depressed halfway, that's when it kicks in. This saves battery the manual says.

This Black-capped Chickadee has had levels adj. and one sharpen click in Photoshop Elements. I'm still getting used to seeing that 12 MP displayed at 1:1 pixels on screen will not be as sharp as viewing F-30 image at full pixel count, and reminding myself it's for prints and tighter crops.
 

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robert s

Birding Maniac
Hi Neil there are 4 settings nomal ,vivid, less, and an old style setting. I myself set it on vivid becuase it`s the closest setting that actually portrays what I see when I`m looking through the scope or binocs.
 
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Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
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Here's a shot from the last session I was able to get in. At the feeder, only about 15 meters away and with 32x eyepiece.. so it's large. The Black-headed Grosbeak was moving his head a little, and I only had ISO at 100, so the speed was not good. But check some of the body feathers and you can see what the camera is capable of.. at least with the Kowa 824 fluorite. I don not consider my scope the top of the heap for photos.. it's opinion, but I put Swaro and Leica ahead of it, and possibly some others.. like Zeiss and Nikon's best. However this scope is in the general ballpark with the best.

The cool thing with 12 MP's to play with is look at the size of the image displayed. The percent of full pixels was interpolated to just 32% of actual! That means I can fill an 8x10 with this bird looking as good as an F-30 print of much smaller crop/subject size. Be sure to maximize the pop up window or else you might not see it full sized.
 

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robert s

Birding Maniac
Iso 400 shots

:t: Well we had a few squalls then some sun then more squalls. Well you get the picture so I decided to just shoot at ISO 400 to check the quality and I set the sharpness setting to the highest setting.
 

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Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
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Robert S,
Couple beautiful shots you show there. I'm just back from a 4-day camping and photo trip, where I had opportunities for some of our rarest Oregon birds, extremely rare Indigo Bunting; White-headed Woodpecker, Lewis's Woodpecker. After some 500 frames, I am extremely discouraged with the DSC-W200.. most of the frames were unusable.. just overly out of focus. I suspect the image stabilizer feature.. and also my setting focus on "infinity." I am going to do more shooting at "focus on subject near center," instead of infinity, and turn off image stabilizer system. About 5% of my shots are usable to my standards, but are at my minimum standard (anyone like soft-focus??) Do you have any suggestions??? In part I also blame the low resolution LCD. Even Xtend-A-view magnifier does not make it easily discernable as to proper focus. I think with time and testing I may develop a way to get consistent acceptable results.. meanwhile I lost many, many valuable shots thinking they looked great on the tiny LCD. A few okay ones will be going into my Gallery here next few days.
 

Neil

Well-known member
Fourcreeks,
It's a shame when you miss "shots of a lifetime" when equipment let's you down.
I presume when you say you use Infinity Focus that you are manually focussing the scope while looking at the viewfinder. The Sony's have good reputation for fast,accurate focusing so it might be worth letting the camera do it's stuff. My W100 is probably the fastest focuser of all my cameras. As the screen on my Canon A640 is not that bright and sharp for judging focus , I pre-focus the scope and then trust the camera's AF. It's the only way to go in my case as my eyes are not up to manually judging focus.
I hope you can get back to get the photos you missed, Neil.
 

robert s

Birding Maniac
Sorry to here about all those out of focus shots. The first thing I did when I set it up was to take off the stabilizer ( my tripod does that job ) and I also focused my scope on a high contrast object I think It was a tree ) and went through the pre focus settings and found the .5 meter setting pretty much syncs up with the scope and have been useing that setting exclusivly. But it`s still tough in sunlight situations to get the focus perfect. I just started needing reading glasses and got a 2x magnifacation so that probably helps. Try those settings and let me know how it works out.
 

aomcm

Well-known member
A couple of tips from using the Sony W70, which takes very sharp pictures when it gets the focus right, but struggles with focus. The weak link on the Sony W cameras for digiscoping is the low resolution LCD - everything looks in focus even when it is not. I was hoping the new ones would increase the resolution, but they did not. With practice, I have gotten better at looking at fine feather details to judge the scope focus in the LCD and then I let the camera focus. Some days 80% are in focus, other days less than 20%. Still have not totally figured it out. I cannot imagine succeeding with infinity focus without some help from the camera.

Another thing I have noticed is that in P mode, the camera favors high f/stop over shutter speed. I really wish it had aperture priority. In P mode, it often uses a very low shutter speed at f/9. Not helping get sharp pictures. Absent aperture priority mode, I use the soft focus portrait mode which favors high shutter speed over aperture, because I want high shutter speeds. (Soft focus portrait mode is a mode that keeps backgrounds soft by using the maximum aperture, your subject is still in sharp focus).

Finally, I find the camera takes the sharpest pictures at the low to middle end of the zoom range. It is always tempting to zoom to max and fill the frame, but the minimum f/stop goes way up, shutter speeds drop and focusing becomes more difficult with less light. I get the best results in the middle of the zoom range.

Despite all of these, the real key to success is to shoot a lot of pictures and hope for a few keepers. With a cooperative subject, I shoot a burst of three pictures and then refocus for another burst. I keep doing this, hoping one of my focusing attempts is accurate. While the camera helps with focus, I find you really need to get the scope focused well to get a good shot.

I hope these help.

Mike


Robert S,
Couple beautiful shots you show there. I'm just back from a 4-day camping and photo trip, where I had opportunities for some of our rarest Oregon birds, extremely rare Indigo Bunting; White-headed Woodpecker, Lewis's Woodpecker. After some 500 frames, I am extremely discouraged with the DSC-W200.. most of the frames were unusable.. just overly out of focus. I suspect the image stabilizer feature.. and also my setting focus on "infinity." I am going to do more shooting at "focus on subject near center," instead of infinity, and turn off image stabilizer system. About 5% of my shots are usable to my standards, but are at my minimum standard (anyone like soft-focus??) Do you have any suggestions??? In part I also blame the low resolution LCD. Even Xtend-A-view magnifier does not make it easily discernable as to proper focus. I think with time and testing I may develop a way to get consistent acceptable results.. meanwhile I lost many, many valuable shots thinking they looked great on the tiny LCD. A few okay ones will be going into my Gallery here next few days.
 

Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
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These are great tips! You guys are the best! I did a side by side test with a 4" long carved decoy from 20 ft. today of the W200 against the Fuji F30. The Fuji in auto-mode was only fair, but in aperature priority was awesome, even at 1/34 sec (the subject is not moving and no wind) at ISO 100. It beat the Sony hands down, even tho I shot bursts with Sony in these modes: "P" mode with Steady shot on; then off - at infinity focus; followed by "P" mode in "center object" focus setting with Steady shot on; then off. Shutter speed for the Sony came in at 1/50 sec at ISO 100.

Next chance I'll try W200 as suggested at .5 meter focus and soft portrait. I may try the plus sharpness setting in the Sony as well. I know the camera is capable of sharp photos. Immediately after the test run, a Kingfisher landed on a branch behind the test area over our Creek, and I was able to shoot with both cameras, hidden indoors. Several Sony shots look extremely good. I will proceed to process and size these for both cameras, and we'll see what we have. Thanks again for these tips. My return priviledge at Circuit City ran out today.. 14 days from purchase!

I agree with focus the scope by eye first, and try fine variations if time allows. I always do that. I did a test recently of autofocus to see if it can compensate even the slightest versus the scope focal point.. and was amazed that a camera indeed can refocus slightly.. of course this is why we can focus the scope near-perfect and have the camera mess up the focus! Good point.

The first thumbnail is the W200, the second the F-30. They are unretouched at all but sized to be equal for best comparison (Sony has twice the pixel count of Fuji). You will see the white balances are different, yet both cameras were set to auto WB. Open both pics and view them side by side.

The House Wren was one of the small percentage of properly focused shots from the weekend trip.
 

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Forcreeks

If you want to see something new in nature!
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Here's a side by side of the Sony W200 and Fuji F30 on a Kingfisher f. changing cameras as quickly as possible to capture the same lighting conditions.. the area was a bit dark. In fact a quick check of the EXIF info shows the Fuji set to ISO-100 shot at a slow 1/5 sec. It's hard to believe by the result. The Sony shot at 1/40 at ISO-200 but is darker. The 1/5 second shot must be lucky.
 

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Forcreeks

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Here's a Red Crossbill photo from my 4-day travels with the new Sony. As you can see it focused very well, which was an anomaly for the trip. About one of each 30-40 shots turned out this well in spite of conditions being good for the other shots. Experiments today indicate to me that I will try birds using the the "center point" focus, even if I have to place the dot on the bird, hold shutter 1/2 way down while relocating the photo center. It seems to yield correctly autofocused shots. The .5 meter focus setting did not work well for me, but the soft-focus mode did do a fairly good job of getting the focus right. It seems to be better programmed to separate the foreground from the background and then focus on the fordground subject in the center. I'll try some birds with it when I can.
 

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markv

Member
Well I decided to go for it and bought the w200 had to order the extremeIII card but the camera shop loaned me a standard card to play with. I was very impressed with the speed of the camera and the quality of the pictures taken handheld, attached the camera to my scope and fired away, tried all sorts of different settings and everything look great on the LCD but when I got home and downloaded them they were all out of focus!! OK I thought, I'm new to this digiscoping game so just need to keep trying, When I read about Forcreeks trip I start to think I've made a big mistake purchasing this camera.
I decided to set up in my backgarden where I can fire away and keep going in to the computer to download and see what is happening, anyway amongst all the rubbish I start to find I'm getting some reasonable shots (being modest here, I'm very happy with them) so am now feeling much better about my purchase and cannot get out enough to play with the new toy.
Still not 100% sure of the best settings but the attached picture was taken at iso400 because of poor light in 'p' programme, 'multi' metering mode, 'center AF' focus, 'cloudy' white balance. The 20-60 zeiss zoom was at 20x, camera zoom was at 1.7 and the subject was approx 25feet away.
I have not worked out the best way to focus the scope, I have tried focusing by eye and taken shots even though the screen looked out of focus and the result was out of focus I've then refocused using the screen but still had pictures out of focus, I've decided the best solution is to leave the scope at the zoom required (pref 20x) and zoom the camera to max having gone in to setup and switched digital zoom to 'precision' which allows you to zoom to 6x, focus using the LCD screen and then bring it back to 1.7 zoom.
Sorry if this has got a little long winded but hope it is of interest to someone.
Regards,
Mark.
 

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Neil

Well-known member
Because it is such a big file you will have to change your Unsharp Mask settings when processing. Try 200/150/4 on the full image (after adjustments ) and play around with these numbers so it looks sharp. After reducing for email do another round of Unsharp Mask at 80/1.0/0. I sometimes do another round at 50/0.3/2 on the reduced image.
I would suggest doing some tests on a static object , such as a can or DVD at 10 metres and 20 metres .
Neil.
 

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