The Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905 Mobile Phone has an 8.1 megapixel digital camera – the camera phone features a real “Xenon” flash, autofocus lens, face detection, a 2.4″ QVGA screen, GPS (with geo photo tagging) and WiFi. This review looks at how the phone performs when used solely as a digital camera. The Sony Ericsson C905 is available from Amazon UK.
The biggest appeal of this camera has to be the built in 8 megapixel Sony “Cybershot” camera with “Xenon” flash. The flash definitely helps with photos of people. But one area where camera phones have always been behind in image quality is noise – the basic facts are that the more pixels you cram into a small image sensor, the more noise you’re going to get, and mobile phone cameras have the smallest sensors you can get. There are no manual ISO settings on this camera, so it’s pot luck as to how much noise will show up in the photos. All the photos I’ve taken with flash have used ISO100 or ISO200.
Specifications / Features:
* Sensor: 8.1 megapixel CMOS sensor (3264 x 2448 pixels)
* Lens: f2.8 Auto Focus Lens 5.9mm, equivalent to 38mm on a 35mm camera
* Focusing: Auto, Macro, Infinity (for Landscape), Face Detection
* Screen: 2.4″ QVGA 240 x 320 scratch-resistant mineral glass display
* Face detection: Detects 3 faces
* Colour modes / Effects: Off, Black & white, Negative, Sepia, Solarize
* Video Recording: 320×240, 30fps Video
* HD Output: No
* Red-Eye Reduction: Yes (flash)
* Macro: 15cm
* ISO : Auto / 64 / 100/ 200 / 400
* IS (Image Stabilisation): Digital
* Scenes: Auto, Twilight landscape, Twilight portrait, Landscape, Portrait, Beach / snow, Sports, Document
* Picture size: 8MP, 5MP, 3MP, VGA, Normal, Fine
* Histogram available: No
* Exposure bracketing: No
* Optical viewfinder: No
* Manual WB: No (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent)
* Other features: Focus assist LED, Smart contrast (a bit like increased dynamic range), Smile shutter (added with firmware update), Photo geo-tagging, Auto-rotate
Box contents: C905 phone, 2gb Sandisk M2 memory card (160mb built into the phone), an M2 to USB convertor, leather wrist strap, USB cable, wall charger, hands-free stereo earphones (needed for the radio to work), CD rom, manual, 930mAh 3.6v Lithium Ion battery, C905 camera guide. Memory cards: The C905 takes Sony M2 memory cards, and comes with a 2gb card which should store around 1000 photos, if you want to upgrade, have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards.
Menu: The menu system and options can be brought up quite quickly by pressing the buttons closest to the screen, and the menus are quite similar to the quick menus you get on normal digital cameras. There is very little need to go into advanced options / settings as nearly all photographic options are available through the quick menus.
Battery Life: Not very impressive, the phone tends to last around 2 days with very little use, and I tend to plug it in to charge every other day. Compared to a normal camera that lasts for weeks with very little use, battery life is poor.
Speed: Put simply, it’s not quick. Switch on time for the phone to switch on is painfully slow (we’re talking around 12 seconds – however the phone is probably always on), switching to camera mode is a couple of seconds, focusing is not fast, and shutter response is around 0.3 – 0.4 seconds when pre-focused (compared to 0.1 seconds or less for more compact cameras). The menus are a little bit slow, but workable, and as long as you’re patient with focusing, by pre-focusing and then pressing the shutter when you want the photo, you can capture moments fairly well.
Ease of Use: The camera design and layout with numerous photo buttons, such as the macro, flash, self-timer and exposure buttons on the D-pad make this phone really feel like it’s been designed to be used as camera. The photo mode can be easily accessed, and the clear labelling of buttons make it easy to switch modes, and access features.
Ergonomics and Buttons: The shutter release works in the usual way, half a press focuses the camera, pressing fully then takes the photo. The only problem is that whilst the half press is fairly noticable, the full press doesn’t feel like a proper shutter on other cameras – this is a bit disappointing. The lens cover switches the camera on when opened, and the buttons on the top give easy and fairly quick access to playback, photo and video modes. The C905 is quite small – smaller than most digital cameras and measures 104.0 x 49.0 x 18.0 mm, and weighs 136g, meaning it will fit easily into any pocket and can be taken everywhere with you.
Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, etc to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905 Sample Photo Gallery.
Inside: The flash works quite well, and is certainly much better than the LED flashes found on other camera phones, but does not appear to be as powerful as even budget digital cameras. Colours can be quite good, however, flash fall off is quite noticable and subject can often end up looking overly yellow. Noise is quite high, and detail is quite low, and the ISO tends to stay around ISO100 or ISO200.
Noise: Indoors, or in low light, when not using the flash, noise levels are high and detail is quite low as the camera has strong noise reduction. Noise is also visible on bright sunny days even when using ISO64, and this camera is definitely not recommended for pixel peepers. When images have been resized noise is much less noticable. Noise is much worse in the C905 and camera phones in general even when compared to high megapixel compact digital cameras.
Outside: The camera tends to use low ISO settings, down to ISO64, and colour was generally quite highly saturated. There was some highlight clipping, and noise was visible even in ISO64 photos. Noise reduction also removed quite a lot of detail. (Picture above cropped)
Zoom: The camera has digital zoom only. An example of digital zoom can be seen above, digital zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided.
Macro: Whilst not as good as a dedicated digital camera, the Sony C905 was generally good, allowing close up photos, and allowed the use of flash which often produced some good results.
Video mode: Awful. Really really poor: 320×240 MP4, 30fps, 2 channels, 32khz. Go back to 2004 and even budget digital cameras feature VGA (640×480) video recording. To compete in todays market the camera phone should have at least VGA and preferably HD video recording. However, one nice feature is the video light which can be switched on and off when needed.
Conclusion. They say that the best camera is the camera you have with you, and in this regard the C905 is a very good camera simply because as a mobile phone it’s likely to be with you at all times. This means you can capture the photo that you perhaps would have otherwise missed. However, the C905 still doesn’t compete with even budget digital cameras, which beat the C905 on image quality, noise, speed, screen size, optical zoom, video quality, price etc. It does a decent job, and with a screen that works outdoors, and a real xenon flash it’s better than the majority of other mobile phones as a camera. If you want to be able to have a decent camera in your mobile phone this would be the best choice simply because of the flash, which definitely outperforms LED based flashes. If all you intend to do is publish photos on the web, on sites like facebook, then it’s possible this could be all the camera you ever need… but then why would you need an 8 megapixel camera, when facebook‘s maximum image size is 0.3 megapixels? 😉 For better results it would be worth taking a cheap budget digital camera everywhere you go, but if your pockets are already full, then this will do the job, and it’s possible you might like the photos. It’s available from Amazon UK
+ Real Xenon Flash
+ Screen works outdoors
+ Dedicated Photo buttons on camera (Macro, Flash etc)
+ Provided 2gb M2 card and USB reader makes it easy to transfer photos
+ Decent macro mode, allows the use of flash with good results
+ Bright colourful images with best results outdoors on sunny days
+ Camera always with you
+ Blue glowing buttons
– Awful video mode (320×240)
– Numerous reports of the phone screen / ear speaker breaking (including mine, which was repaired under warranty after 6 months)
– Small lens means it’s important to make sure the lens is always clean
– Doesn’t perform very well in low light outdoors (without flash)
– Lots of noise
– Poor battery life