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I have had this camera for about 1 year. It is a really clear and easy to use camera.
I bought it because it had a 12x optical zoom and 'super-steady'shot image stabilisation. This has been really useful in taking pictures of wildlife because I can get some decent shots even when birds and things are a long way away.
The closeup shots are decent using the macro setting. There is a setting for evening shots when natural light is reduced, and with this I was able to rest against a solid object and get excellent campfire shots without the flash. When the flash is selected it pops up on top which is neat, and I have had no red eye shots - so Sony must have taken care of that too.
It has a traditional view finder and a good sized screen view finder too. This combined with the zoom and auto focus means the batteries can get used up very quickly, so it would be a good idea to carry spare batteries.
The camera is not pocket size, so it is only for if you are conciously going out to take photos, and cannot be conveniently kept in your handbag. It comes with software, USB lead, fat instruction book in millions of languages, a smart 'SONY' webbing strap, and a rubbery case (which is a bit awkward but does protect the camera).
Even though it is not so very compact, it is still a convenient and easy camera. It has an excellent range of settings, so it is good for a beginner, but has a range of further options that can be used to get top shots in many different conditions.
I have owned this camera for about 6 months now and have been extremely pleased with its performance as far as photographic quality goes. It is very slow on the shot to shot speeds and its high speed mode is slightly better than useless. If you can forgive it for those misgivings and just concentrate on taking 1st class images then you will love it. If you are into action photography then my advice would be to leave well alone.Its very large screen is most useful for composing shots and I believe it to be very clear indeed,some would not agree with me on that. I often leave my specs off when out as side of my nose aches when running about but I can still make out the scene I wish to take with no problems at all.There are plenty of user settings on camera to enable you to take vivid,natural or just normal colour,I have never figured out the difference between the last two as yet,but who cares I suppose. It has a very long zoom reach and this can be used with confidence due to the excellent image stabalisation system. One still has to make the effort to hold it steady of course but speeds as low as 1/20th sec. I have used with great care and the photographs have been ok. It is a very well made camera and should last a while if looked after. I dropped mine rather heavily when it fell off a tripod-doh! and it still is functioning fine,albeit with a couple of dents in it now. I have the 1gig memory stick and this enables me to store about 300 highest quality photographs. Which is all I usually use. There is not too much in camera sharpening at default setting and this gives very good resolution. I have tried the increased sharpening and pictures still look great,except at full screen where one can notice some colour bleed.This is not a problem of course at normal print sizes. I have had some exceptional shots printed at 20 inches and I and others have been amazed at how sharp they turned out. It has been on the market for some months now and a new model may be on the horizon from Sony but I would still recommend buying this excellent camera,especially at the super low prices that are available now-as low as £285 I have seen,which is a real steal for such a grand machine.