This isn't the coolest camera out there. Or the most expensive. Or the most technically sophisticated, not by a long way. But it still looks amazing, and just feels conceptually right. It never fails to attract "oohs" and "aahs" when you get it out! Picture quality is pretty good with 2 megapixels resolution. I get good quality 6" x 4" prints out of mine, no problem. I use Jessops, who can do prints from just 15p each. You just give them your memory stick - very convenient. It's a lovely simple piece of design, with little superfluous detail. One thing that could be classed as a design flaw is the positionof the lens - it's on the far right of the camera, and it's easy to put your finger in front of the lens if you're not careful. Unfortunately, charging the batteries each time is a bit of a fiddle (they need to be removed and charged in a separte unit, which takes 12 hours), but the batteries last a long time once charged. It's ideal as a "fun" camera to take out clubbing and stuff like that, which is exactly how I use mine. It works OK in dark conditions, and red-eye is not too bad! Definitely recommended to anyone who wants a compact and well made digital camera. Note that the standard memory stick is only 8Mb which is equivalent to just 15 hi-res pictures. But I got a 128Mb stick on ebay for £35, which solves all my picture storage problems! Downsides include a lack of optical zoom, and difficulties capturing fast-moving objects. I believe there are cameras available now which offer 3 megapixels and optical zoom in a similarly small package e.g. Pentax Optio S and Canon Ixus. But they cost a lot more, and for under 200 quid, this is the coolest camera out there!
In October I decided to look for a serious portable model to replace the L'espion and the Sipix Blink I already had as a companion to my Fuji Finepix S304 (see op) and Minolta Dynax 505i. Sony had launched the DSC-U10 which is a 1.3 megapixel model back in the summer of 2002. I had fallen in love with the DSC-U10. This was one a few cameras that had me salivating last year. My first impression was cool this was simply so sexy, stylish and I wanted one. How did Sony do it? This is small but useable. There is a flash and 1" LCD screen but no optical viewfinder. Ok the Cybershot is physically bigger than the L'espion and Sipix, and other cheap fun cameras. It is also thicker than its competitor in this area the Casio Exlim-M2 and S2, but considerably smaller in height. The Casio in its defence has an optical viewfinder and a full size 1.5" LCD screen, and it is much easier to view than the Cybershot and therefore easier to frame your picture. This was my first reservation about the Cybershot. In fact since its so similar in size to the small mobile phones such as a T68i that it is a credible alternative to the camera phones and certainly produces much better quality picture than any of these at the moment, plus its much more cool! Sony in their wisdom decided to launch the DSC-U20, a 2 megapixel upgrade of the U10. What's more Sony were going to launch it in the UK with different colour models and only slightly more expensive than the lower resolution model. At launch the blue model was available with silver version after Christmas and a black version in the spring. The relative steep price had put me off and I decided to hold out for a silver version and a reduction in price. The camera -------------- After seeing the silver and blue versions I decided to opt for the latter as it looks more cool. I was slightly disappointed with the silver model which I had set my heart on. It also picks up f
ingerprints more eas ily and scratches also show up, from just looking at the display model. I also purchased the black soft case for the model, and this enhances the sexiness of it. Sony are ready to extend the range of cases with various colours from white to camourflage. Maybe I should have waited for the blue case! The Cybershot comes with 2 AAA NiMh rechargeable batteries and case, a neck strap, a slow battery charger (shame on you Sony), 8Mb Memory stick, USB cable, a camera manual and the applications CD containing the drivers, image transfer and Pixela Imagemaker. The inclusion of the rechargeable batteries are a necessity for digital cameras as they eat alkalines like anything. The charger provided takes around 12 hours to fully charge up though so it could be worthwhile to purchase an extra of rechargeable batteries along with a good rapid charger such as the Hahnel Rapid Powerstation. Setting up the software and drivers was straightforward using Win Me and I guess this should be the case for Win XP. This was a true case of installing the CD software and then plug and go. A neat touch from Sony is that when the camera is connected to the USB port, it is also powered by it, negating the need for a AC adaptor which is just as well as there is no AC socket on the camera, I guess there just isn't enough space on the case for it. This saves the battery from taking a battering when transferring files to the PC. The socket to connect to a USB port is on the back and is covered up by a small rubber cover though you have to be careful that you don't loose this. Features include: 1/2.7" 2.0 MegaPixel effective Progressive Scan Super HAD CCD image sensor, a fixed 5mm (33mm 35mm equivalent) f2.8 lens, Center weighted Auto Focus, 4-step Manual Focus with Auto Macro, Center weighted Auto Exposure, Auto shutter speed range 1/30 ~ 1/2000 second, 1" 64K Pixel TFT transflective LCD Viewfinder
with Battery Remaining Indicator, 4 Mode Intelligent Flash with TTL Pre -flash metering and Red Eye Reduction, SXGA (1632x1224) and VGA (640x480) Image Sizes, MPEG Video mail (160x112) Movie mode (w/o audio), VGA Burst mode captures up to five 640x480 frames at 2 frames/second, Selectable Soft snap, Illumination snap and Vivid Nature Scene modes, Selectable Sepia, Solarize, Black & White and Negative Art Picture Effect modes, Dimensions W x H x D : 85 x 29 x 40mm Weight: 4.2 oz. (118g) w/ Batteries, Memory Stick® Media, and Neck Strap In Use ===== The U20 is very easy to operate, and can be ready to be used by just sliding open the lens cover and with a 8Mb Memory stick, can be ready to use instantly. However with a 128Mb memory stick and the new 256Mb Memory stick select the camera takes a few seconds longer to be ready. This camera cannot use the Memory Pro sticks though future firmware maybe available to allow this. The LCD viewfinder is small and can be difficult to frame and focus shots accurately though once use become accustom to it, this becomes second nature. In bright sunlight the light can be turned off and this saves the battery. The menu system is simple and easy to use but it takes a while to get used to see which option is highlighted, Sony could be wise to change the colour scheme for this. To be honest with a 2 megapixel camera it's a waste of time to shoot in VGA mode even for emailing, it would be better to shoot in the highest quality and convert it with an image editing package, unless you are short of storage space on the memory stick. One thing I noticed was that the number of shots remaining is regularly inaccurate, since two shots can be taken before it counts down. This is probably due to the JPEG compression used and this is very high, and cannot be altered. Image quality on the whole is very good, though image quality is somewhat noisy when the flash is used. The red eye red
uction is average and since the flas h and lens are close together makes it difficult to overcome. The night shooting mode is a waste of time, since there is no tripod mount, a very steady hand is required for the long exposure, and I'm yet to be convince about the image taken in this mode compared to the normal mode. The effect modes are rather a gimmick and are probably better done using an image editing package. Twenty free digital prints were provided using Sony's imaging service operated by Colorplaza and the quality are good but the inadequacies of the camera's 2 megapixel shows up with large prints(7x5) a bit blocky and also some artefacts from the strong compression used. Handling of the camera can be a problem, until you can get used to it. The lens and flash are very close to the right edge of the camera, where most people often put the fingers and thus can get covered up. Once you get used to it though this is less of a problem. However shutter lag is very short which is a main problem with digital cameras and shot to shot is very good too, with only a second or two wait before the next shot can be taken. The movie mode is pointless with no audio recorded and movie clips the size of postage stamp, I can't see anyone wanting to use it. Battery life is excellent considering the size of the batteries and that the LCD is used all the time. Software ====== The major weakness is the supplied software. At this price Photoshop can't be expected to be included, though Photoshop Elements would be a good inclusion. The supplied Pixela Image maker is weak. The interface is colourful and that's about it. It does not resemble any windows application and is rather hard to use. To be honest I didn't bother learning to use it at all since I already had Finepix viewer installed from the S304 and this was very quickly uninstalled. Transferring images to the PC is straight forward though
from the camera without using a card reader. Overall ===== Overall this a good second camera, or when you want to record moments on a night out without carrying the bulk and beats any camera that are found on existing mobile phones. In fact I carry this around with me, you never know when it comes in handy. This is one cool stylish piece of kit that will appeal to the fashion conscious and gadget lovers, with reasonable image quality to match. True the image quality may not be as good as my s304 especially for larger prints, it has more style and wow factor. The ladies do look at you and ask you about it! Could be a useful pulling tool! The build quality is excellent to. This camera has fallen in price since I bought it and by the time I get round to finish writing and posting this op, the U20 will be replaced by the U30 which will be expected to be very similar, and this is still only 2 megapixels. Also look at the Pentax Optio S and the Casio equivalent which have 3 megapixels and a zoom lens. The U-20 is certainly not style over substance....Well just about.....
I bought this camera for general snap-shots and was attracted to the cameras small size. After using the camera for a day I have taken a few pictures, a small film (no sound) and downloaded these through tthe USB cable to my PC. Important things that you may not realise: The camera comes with Nickel Metal Hydride batteries - not L-Ion. This means that you have to train the batteries and cannot simply recharge and topup a half charged battery, you have to drain it fully, then recharge fully. The manual says this takes 13 hrs - what a bore! This may have put me off buying if I had realised. Although they are AAA size, you can't use normal off the shelf AAA batteries, they last about 5 pictures then the thing shuts down. It does come with "scenes" for picture taking. Those familier with sony cameras know that this is a nice little selection of B&W photos, Serpia (old fasioned brown photos), negative (weird) and another weird one. quiet a nice, fun feature for when you think your taking "arty" shots!! The USB transfer software worked very well on my Win2000 PC. I used photoshop for image manipulation becuase I am more familier with it. The camera has no zoom, but an auto-focas, you can over-ride this to choose one of the following : 20 cm - For close ups 1 Metre - For pictures focasing on something close, but still with a background Infinate for landscape type pictures. Summery: Great for ultra-pocket size, snap/fun shops. No good if you will be frustrated by no-zoom. Very easy to link with PC. I bartered and got the price down to £180, am glad as it's not worth more.