* Prices may differ from that shown
Ahh. Well back to the things I know best, electronic gadgets. Im sure many of you have thought about getting a digital camera, but now the price has gone down and the quality has gone up, it?s a great time to make the plunge. What ever you want one for, the cats, the kids parties, the wife in her tigger ears and nothing else, it doesn?t really matter. I wont beat about the bush, this is a very high quality camera, probably too high quality for most of us, well I know it is for me. But heck, the dollar exchange rate was just too good ;) Anyway, I could reel off stats etc. but they can be found on most websites, ill try and keep it simple. (http://digitalcameras.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/ps_318188/124901.html) Anyway, ill get onto the camera itself. Well it?s a 5 megapixel camera so have 5 million effective pixels, basically it can take very high resolution images (2592x1944). Its has 3x optical zoom for closing in on your subject, which isnt that much, but is handy enough. You can either look through the standard view finder or compose your photo via the 1.5? LCD RGB screen on the back. The camera itself is simple laid out, the zoom is controlled by a tilting thumb control and you can select your function via a rotating dial. You can switch it to photo mode, video mode, setup or playback. All pretty simple, photo is for standard pics, video is for video clips, setup is pretty obvious :p and playback allows you to go back through your pics and clips to view or modify (such as rotate, crop or delete). Its all quite intuitive and a short read through the manual should get you going with the basics. To move through the menus or images you have a little four way pad with a select button in the middle, all easily accessible with the thumb. That?s the good thing about the camera, if you?re a novice you can just set it to auto mode and let it make all the selections for you and away you go. The camera even makes a shutter noise when you press the button, just
so you feel like your taking a real photo ;) It?s a 5mp camera, but of course you can select a lower resolution if you wish, 4.1mp, 3mp, 1.2mp or VGA, the lower the resolution the more images you can store. The camera uses memory stick or memory stick pro for 128mb upwards. On the auto mode the images are very good, the colours are vibrant and the images are clear and crisp, good enough for the amateur that?s for sure. You can either view your images on the LCD screen, upload them to your PC or even view them on your TV via the supplied cable (NTSC or PAL). If you just want to take snaps, leave it on auto and it will do the rest, of your more of an expert (not me!) you can mess about with all the settings. Its quite a heavy camera mind, and didn?t come with a case, but those can be picked up very cheap. The video mode is quite handy, it has a built in mic so can pick up basic sound (can also be used to attach voice to pics and make memos) and it records in a compressed mpeg format at either 640x480 or 160x120 in email mode, although the frame rate is about 15fps so don?t expect anything tv standard. On my 256mb card I can fit around 110 images at full resolution in fine mode, I could fit in a lot more if I used the standard mode, but this would compress the image more. It comes with a 16mb card, but that will get you about 8 images on the 5mp setting, so you would need a higher capacity card. It comes with a two battery charger and rechargeable NiMH batteries that wont last you too long, best to do what I did and get another lot of batteries. I even bought another Duracell charger because it could do 4 batteries at once, left the things in the US mind, so im stuck having to use the slow sony one. To be honest I haven?t used the software that came with it, I just use paint shop pro. If you have WinXP you can just plug the camera into your USB port and its ready to use as a removable drive, you could store other things on it if you so
wish ed. I f you have win2k or older, you need to install a small USB driver, but its all simple enough. I think the best thing to do would be to include a link to a few pics at the end I have taken with my new little baby, these are cropped and recompressed for the web mind, but should give you a good idea of just how nice the images can look. The camera costs around £200 here in the UK, but if your after a good range camera that will cover all your needs, you cant go wrong. If your only interested in snaps for the web, or aren?t too interested in re-editing, go for a cheaper model, say a 3mp camera instead. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/deets75/dy/DSC00929.jpg http://homepage.ntlworld.com/deets75/dy/DSC00328.jpg Anyway, would have put this op up a little sooner had I not blown my mainboard while trying to hook up the front USB ports while heavily jet lagged, a lesson to be learnt there im sure ;) and totally off topic, but this is in honour of my old cat eric whose gone blind while I was away :( http://homepage.ntlworld.com/deets75/dy/DSC00896.jpg
I've had the camera for the last six months now, and in truth I can't really complain (much). I never had a dream to become a photographer, but I wanted something a bit tasty to snap shots of my little nephew and niece whilst they were still cute. I bought the camera for two main reasons: 1. Because it was Sony. 2. Because of the versatility it promised. I can truthfully say that it has lived up to that promise, with great snaps and video to boot. It doesn't seem to matter where I am or what the conditions are like, the camera copes admirably. From early morning to the middle of the night, there's a setting on the menu for taking photos. Thanks to the comprehensive, if somewhat technical and overlong, instruction manual, using the versatility of the machine is relatively easy, even for the novice, but I would recommend that anyone buy one of these sit down with the book for a couple of hours before taking the camera out of the box. When it is quoted as a 5M pixel camera, there is no mention that this is merely one of the photo formats available on this model. In fact there are 4 photo formats, ranging from 5M pixels right down to 1.2M pixels (which is perfectly adequate/good for snapshots). On top of that, you get two video modes, although each has its own problems. The VGA mode is the best, but you can only get a very small amount of video onto the memory stick, so if you are thinking of using video regularly I would suggest trying to find the really large sticks (up to 1gig are available according to the instructions). I would also recommend not trying to accompany your video with sound. Although the camera will do this, it comes at the cost of a lot of memory space. The 1.5 inch screen has good resolution, the buttons seem well placed and not to fiddly, but I am not too keen on the twisty dial for changing function between viewing and taking the snapshots. The zoom control is a little fl
ick switch, which allows you to zoom in upto 3x (optical) and then 4x (digital). This gives and overall 12x zoom, although towards the top end of this, expect resolution to suffer, especially on the lower formats. The screen bears the menu system for the camera which allows the user to choose the mode that they want to use. Although comprehensive, the main problem that I have found is the size of the lettering. At my age (34) I'm not surprised my eyesight is on the wane, but trying to read the menu more than a couple of times a day is not going to help. I suggest that the user finds the best set of parameters for their particular use, and sticks to them. I still have to try out some of the more obscure things that the machine will do, after all there are so many, but I have come to the conclusion that, for the average user,who wants good snapshots, the best settings are Standard, Automatic shooting using 1.2M pixels. The transfer software is acceptable, but lacks some of the professional touches that the more experienced might want, and installs easily. Getting used to the camera is not easy, in fact it may take a few weeks before you become proficient in all the things that it can do, but persevere. It is worth it.