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Having owned various digital cameras in the past from cheap £30 - £99 ones, I dived in and purchased a good one that would hopefully last a life time.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717 was my choice after reading tremendous reviews raving about its features. I hadn't read one review that didn't recommend this camera, so I kept my ears and eyes open and purchased one off ebay.
The Sony camera is a little expensive but hopefully I can justify the costs and why I would always recommend this camera first to anyone who asks me about "GOOD" digital cameras.
By no means am I a digital camera boffin, nor do I protest that I use all the features it has. Truth be known, until I need to use them, I don't use them. The standard default settings alone are good enough for me to download the picture and say "that will do" and be happy with the result - being a designer, I'm not happy at low quality, so this in itself warrants my pleasure with this camera.
Ok, here is a list of this camera's capabilities...
Camera Type: Digital SLR
Hence the cost - but well worth it
Resolution: 5 Mega pixels
Great pictures at great quality, There are additional setting to enhance the picture also, with contrast/sharpness/brightness controls in the menu.
Pop up Flash built in. Possible additional external socket available. You can force the flash to flash or set to automatic and the camera will determine whether it needs the flash or not.
Both auto and manual, Manual focusing is easy and feels natural in handling and focusing at the same time, the auto focus is superb as you would expect with Sony.
Lens Aperture: F/2.0 - 2.4
hmm, I think this allows more light into the subject - never had need to adjust settings.
Video: YES 16 frames per second
This outputs your movie clips in MPG format 320 x 240 160 x 120 160 x 112 , so far I have taken video clips well into the 3rd minute at low resolution - higher the resolution and this will still easily take clips reaching 2 minutes depending on your storage space - [please see memory note below]
Saves pictures as GIF, JPEG, TIFF - 640 x 480 2560 x 1920 2048 x 1536 1280 x 960
12cm Wide, 7cm Heigh, 15.5cm Deep. (I measured it myself :P)
696g - This is quite a heavy camera, in comparison, it's approx 2/3 the weight of a bag of sugar - so quite heavy but very stable and easily manageable)
Special Effects: B+W, Negative, Sepia -
Cool functions, but would never need to "Negative" any photos I take, but they do look cool, the sepia function is the most useful to me as this merges your photo over a short time frame, so your object looks blurred - more exciting than I make out here though)
Battery Time: 2 hours 45 Mins - This is excellent on battery time, this is standard I would say, but mine can run alot longer, a lot longer!!! by adjusting a few basic settings, such as not displaying it on the 1.8" LCD display and viewing my objects through the View finder instead.
Digital Zoom: 5X
Now this is good!!!, this really does zoom close and clearly pick hairs out, or it can produce a landscape picture. Excellent for close up photography work. Especially with the added macro function... this really does take photos of not only a garment, but the stitching too!!! unbelievable
Memory: Depends on your purchase... (buying one with 32Mb can save you a little) I had 128mb therefore I personally get 51 images at high res, this is 2048 x 1536 which i would say is way to big... wayyyy toooo bigggg, or 1,829 images at low resolution being 320 x 240 - ok but quite small, great for photo albums though. So storage space is plenty if you download regulary. Memory card, Slides in the back.
White Balance: Automatic
This little function will adjust the amount of light needed for the photo, (Sony, they think of everything).
WOW, what a feature this is great fun, to describe it would be to say, it creates light when there is no light using its 2 infra red beams. In complete darkness turning the camera into night vision allows you to see everthing. If you have ever seen wildlife documentaries of night vision, this is exactly what it is. Absolutely amazing. Be warned its scary stuff.
Tripod Mount, Built in microphone (which is excellent, be careful though, it picks up everything ;) ) built in speaker, self timer which is 10 secs, viewfinder (view your object through the lens), red eye reduction, so many to detail, but the ones I have missed please take as standard.
Using the camera and software provided:
Very easy, I personally didnt have to do anything to install it apart from putting the CD in, XP did it for me, even on a 98 or 2000 it is very simple and nothing out of the norm. I have done this on my work PC which was Win 2000 without a glitch. The pictures are simply saved as a JPG (or your choosing) to a folder it creates using your USB port. (Mine creates an E: Drive named "SONY" when I turn the camera on. And that's it, drag and drop your photos to your hard drive. Easy.
Carrying case - this is really good qaulity, made of leather and really tough, very comfy to carry also. The camera strap looks the part too, but it does advertise the camera your carrying with "SONY" all over it :P.
Photo Edit Suite:
Mine came with this and I would say its very easy to use with big buttons on what you want the picture to do, ie, Sharpen, Brightness, Blur, Remove Red eye etc. Very rare would I have to adjust in this software programme as I find the picture is of top quality to begin with, but these functions can help improve the picture more if so desired.
OK the important part... COSTS.
This camera came out in 2002 i believe, and since then it has really come down in price, I have seen this on Ebay around the £360 mark, but this is cheap, I have also seen them advertised at £1,000. Very rarely though. I personally paid £240 for mine. I waited and found a bargain! :D
Most Camera dealers are familiar to this camera too, should anything go wrong with it, so it wont cost you a fortune in the unhappy event to get it fixed. Once you own one of these, you need not ever look at buying another ever. (as long as it still works of course).
I must say this is more than I intended to write and apologise for its lenthyness, but I also hope this justifies the camera and its costs, photo quality can be provided if you really are looking to buy this camera and I would happily email some over to you if needed :o)
An expensive toy, but boy will you be happy with it. :)
I was looking for a good Digital Camera a few months back and was looking to spend around £400 hoping to get a good one but to my suprise you got a 3 million pixel one for that and i 5 million for around £700 do i keep looking and i saw this Sony DSC-F717 i know it sounds like a Jet fighter but is a camera. so i was allowed to try it in the shop and i was still thinking to my self it is £700 and it is allot of many but i was thinking it will last a few years and it is a sony so it will have a very high build quality. So go home a look for reviews on it and find it has been reviewed on a professional camera website. Well, they said it was a good entry level camera for young professionals i am no David Bailey but i am a Graphic Design Degree student and want a camera that will give he high quality pictures and this camera does the job superbly. you have all the standard camera modes multi burst shoots, portrait mode, sports, etc. but there is a really nice feature on it and it is nightvision. You can go out in the middle of the night and take photos without lighting. You can adjust the apature,shuter speed, etc. go into Manual focus mode so it is like your SLR but with no film it has a nice 2" screen. Really long battery life of around 2-3 hours on full charge. you can also use it as a video camera if you are at home by plugging it into the tv and then record to video or you can use it for small clips up to 15 mins with sound and at high quality It also has a good 10X Digital zoom it has a really high 2560/1920 resolution for very fine prints and this is all helped but the Carl Zeiss lens and the lowest resolution is 640/480 you can get a fair few pictures on the 32meg card supplied all the software is supplied by sony and unlike the music software for there mini disc player this works well I have used this for ages and it is just great i have also used it to print out my pictures i have taked upto A3 size and they l
ook perfect on the Canon S9000