Having written a review on the Sony DSC-T70 and mentioned that my love of the Cybershot range started with this camera, I thought it only fair to justify this statement with a review. Behold the Sony Cybershot DSC-U30, successor to the U10 and U20. I actually bought this camera off a friend in June 2004 and paid him £80 plus a chauffeured journey from London to Gatwick (so about the equivalent of £100). This was one of the finest £100 I ever spent. The model is available in Silver, grey, blue or gold. I had a grey one.
I was off travelling round the world and needed a camera to capture my memories. This camera was perfect for this exercise as it was so small and compact. I was able to take it with me to places that I simply could not have used a bigger camera. I know cameras are small these days but this 2.5(w)x1(d)x1(h) inches which is really tiny and it only weighs 4.3 ounces! It is also great therefore for taking on nights out when you don't want to carry round a bulky camera....this little lad fits perfectly in a pocket even in a case or you could hook it on a belt loop. The camera is extremely sturdy (aluminium shell) and took a lot of knocks and bumps as it was going round the world with me. It did almost fall off the Sky Tower in New Zealand which sturdy as it is, I don't think it would have survived! The design is simple and it has a sliding lens cover which acts as the on/off as well. It is so easy to use, slide point and click literally and then enjoy the great pictures it takes. That's the beauty of this camera, it is designed for impulsive picture taking.
Lets have a look at the specs. There is plenty crammed in, it has a 2.0 megapixel CCD. Now I know that we are looking at cameras today with 8+ megapixels but a 2.0 is fine as long as you don't plan to blow up the resulting pictures as you may find the quality compromised. This camera will take crisp, clear pictures and has a built in auto focus. One of the best pictures I took on my whole trip was from a moving rickety bus in the Cook Islands and everyone comments on what a great picture it is.
There is an LCD screen (about an inch in diameter) on the back to help you focus you shots. Like many of the models in the Cybershot range the DSC-U30 offers good pictures at low light levels without using the flash function. The flash itself when used is not to sharp and the resulting pictures are soft and full of colour. The flash actually fires twice, the first time illuminates the image and allows the camera to set the correct exposure and the second captures the shot.
There is the capability to take videos although as I mentioned in my other review, digital cameras are not the best vehicle for this exercise and the videos on this camera do not have any sound.
Other capabilities include a little mirror on the front that allows self portraits, there is a timer which allows you to set up and run around to get in the shot and the camera also offers pictures in colour, black and white, sepia or negative.
Memory is in the form of a memory stick, so you can purchase whatever you require in terms of memory. I had a 1g stick and I think I got 300+ pictures with this.
I hate to say it, but there are a couple of downsides to the camera. Firstly, the camera is powered by 2AA batteries (rechargeable ones provided with the unit). I am not a huge fan of this and prefer the newer rechargeable lithium batteries that come with cameras on the market today as they last longer.
The camera also does not have a zoom. I have to say that this did not pose a problem when I was travelling and I got some great pictures without using a zoom. However, with this function being a standard with newer cameras you may find that this could be a deal breaker.
My story does have a sad ending however. Having arrived at a hotel in NYC I took the camera out and realised that there was no longer a display on the LCD screen. Being in impatient chump I chucked it back in the bag and bought a new camera while in the Big Apple. When I got home I couldn't be bothered to find out what was wrong with it and sold it on eBay (as a faulty item) for £30.
My friend bought it in 2002 and it was December 2005 that it broke and it had been round the world, so it had a good innings in my view and it was probably a really quick fix so someone got a bargain.
I would absolutely recommend this camera even as a spare for parties, nights out etc. The picture quality is great for such a small camera and it is so easy to carry round. I'm not sure where you can buy them from now, probably eBay or I did see one on Amazon for £65 recently.
Accessories that come with the camera are: AA rechargeable batteries, Charger, USB Cable, 8mb Memory stick, Neck Strap and CD ROM with Sony's image transfer software.
**This review was also posted by myself on the Ciao website**