Product Type: Sony digital cameras
Newest Review: ... LCD display automatically. Next, the flash situation is dismal. I purchased the Sony HVL-F32X flash, and while it works well enough on n... more
DSC-F828 - mostly pros, some cons
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828
Member Name: clyle
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828
Date: 06/02/04, updated on 06/02/04 (753 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent low light focusing, Infrared photography, 8 MB for big enlargements
Disadvantages: Poor flash support, Noisy above ISO 100, External batteries needed
I'm getting started in the wedding photography business, and have used the Minolta Dimages (7Hi and A1) for several months. The big problem with both was very poor autofocusing ability under dim lighting conditions. Naturally, weddings are often shot under such conditions, so I was looking for an answer.
When I read about the Sony DSC-F828, and the holographic project focusing (where the camera projects a laser pattern onto the subject to ensure accurate focusing), that seemed to be the answer to my prayers, and I acquired one soon afterwards (a few weeks ago). I'll be trying it out on an actual wedding in a few days, but here are my impressions just playing around with it, and comparing it to the Minoltas and the Nikon D100 (which I acquired around the same time).
First off, the holographic focusing works great. It seems to be good for at least 20 feet, which is all I would need it for. It also has a cool (though of limited use to me) night vision feature, where infrared light is projected to allow photographing under zero lights with no flash. Unfortunately, the infrared pictures are very grainy. The build quality is superb, and I like the manual zoom (as opposed to using a switch to zoom in and out). Now for the nitpicks.
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) and the LCD display are controlled with a toggle switch, which must be set to turn on or the other on (but not both at the same time). I'm looking forward to raising the camera to my eye, noticing the blank screen, and taking the camera away so I can hit the switch. Just a couple seconds, but annoying. The Minoltas, which also have the EVF, automatically sense when your eye is at the viewfinder and switch back and forth between the EVF and LCD display automatically.
Next, the flash situation is dismal. I purchased the Sony HVL-F32X flash, and while it works well enough on new batteries, the 4 AA batteries are only good for about 100 or so flashes. Even
after 50 flashes, the recycling time slows down drastically to 10 seconds or so before the Ready light comes on. For shooting weddings, 10 seconds is a lifetime. The Minolta 5600HS flash is also powered with 4 AA's, but offers an optional battery pack to supplement these. On a related note, the Minolta and Nikon can also be powered through supplemental battery packs to extend shooting life, but no battery pack is offered for the Sony.
Also, a pc sync cord outlet would be nice for connecting to an external flash. The Minolta has this; the Nikon does not.
Although the ISO rating in theory runs up to 800, in practice if you try using anything above 100 or so, the pictures start showing noise. The Minolta starts showing noise around ISO 200, the Nikon doesn't appear to show noise even at 800. In the reviews I've read, there seem to be complaints of purple fringing where bright reflections are involved, however, I'll be mostly indoors, so I don't think I'll see this much.
Finally, my storage choice seems to be either a 3MB JPEG, or the 8 MB RAW; I'd love to have something in between; how about a 5 MB JPEG?
Although I have alot of complaints, I think this will do the job fine for what I purchased it for, ie, taking pictures under low lighting conditions. I'll just have to plan on swapping the flash batteries a couple times before the night is over.
For the average (non-wedding) photographer, my complaints probably don't mean too much. If you're shooting family, or vacation pictures or maybe "arty" type pictures, where speed and flash support aren't major issues, this camera would probably fill the bill just fine.