Top critical review
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14Mpixels pointless since there is lack of clarity and delail.
on 17 September 2010
I have used this new camera for just 5 days during my holiday and kept it in a protective case. Nevertheless I have noticed that there is a tiny bit of dust between the lens and outer lens glass! I am not sure how it got there or if it was like that when I received it, but this could be affecting the camera's ability to focus, and causing the loss of clarity I am experiencing. One would have thought that the lens should be sealed from humidity and dust. Well, it is clearly not because when you blow/breathe towards the lens humidity concentrates for a few moments between the lens and its protective glass. That minute bit of dust may have found its way into the lens the same way humidity does. So anyhow keep this in mind while reading this review.
Let's start with the bad things:
Typically 14Mpixel photos will appear grainy/patchy even when viewed at natural size (i.e. not zoomed in) which ruins the detail! Even photos that were taken in excellent lighting conditions will appear grainy at shadowy areas of the photo. To me, this is a big problem. I tried reducing to 10Mpixels and set the camera manually to the minimum ISO setting (ISO 80) and there was no visible improvement.
I was at first very excited to find out that this camera seemed to be able to take bright photos in the dark by adjusting the ISO setting, however after downloading the photos to the PC there were not any that made me go wow! Maybe one or two in the 300 hundred photos I took. :/
Photos taken in dark areas were bright (nice!) but poorly focused 9 out of 10 times which ruined them. This camera at the standard settings seems to have a very hard time focusing in darker environments.
One thing that this camera cannot do at all is to take photos against the sun. My Pentax Optio A30 used to take fantastic photos against the sun (although it was not sensitive in the dark). This Cybershot camera however will produce purple noise in the photo that ruins it completely.
The time it takes to focus under good lighting conditions and at multiple focus points (default) setting feels long as compared to my old Optio A30 (lower spec and previous generation) camera.
The design is simplistic with "sharp" (i.e. not rounded enough) edges which makes holding and handling somewhat uncomfortable.
Extra batteries purchased individually cost over half the price of this camera!
The flash seems to drastically reduce battery life.
It seems that occasionally this camera will not shoot unless it has managed to "focus" first (i.e. only when that green square appears in the screen). So you may find that until you can shoot a photo, the moment has gone. Personally think a blurry photo of "the moment" is better than no photo of "the moment".
I think that without clarity that can capture the detail, the extra resolution is simply pointless. My old camera did exactly the job that a "point & shoot" camera is meant to do 9 out of 10 times. This one does it 6 out of 10, while the lack of clarity due to the grainy/patchy effect is annoyingly present in most (if not all) photos taken in Auto mode.
Sometimes it is possible to adjust the settings in manual mode to rectify these issues; however this defeats the purpose of the "point & shoot" concept.
The good things:
Battery seems to last for a day / around 300 photos provided that you avoid using the flash.
Turn on time appears to be less than 2 seconds which is not bad at all.
I do like the time delay flash that allows light to travel further and get dark backgrounds brighter at night.
It does have an interesting feature which is smile detection. You place the camera down and go sit in front of it. Then as soon as you smile it snaps a photo. You can adjust the smile detector sensitivity too so the camera can tell whether you are giving it a fake smile or you are popping your eyes out with laughter.
It is very slim and it can fit in the pocket of a shirt easily.
If you try multiple times you will eventually get a nice focused photo in very low light conditions thanks to the high sensitivity of this camera. Yes you can use night mode and a tripod like with most cameras; however this one can take bright photos in the dark by increasing sensitivity using the ISO setting, which is faster than night mode and does not require a tripod.
I like the wide lens. It captures so much more than my old camera. A funny "downside" is that it captures your arm when taking a photo of yourself, holding the camera.
If the problems I encountered are related to the dust in the lens, then at around £110 this camera is good value. If however the problems are inherent then I wouldn't want to buy this camera. I will contact the manufacturer to find out if I can have it repaired under warrantee and will update this review.
This is an update to my previous review as promised. Turns out there was a legitimate reason for my 3-star rating. My Cybershot camera was indeed defective. I've had it repaired under warrantee and it is now significantly better in terms of clarity. Still not sure it performs as well as a good one. I think Sony handled the repair well. Got it back in around 15-20 days. It is still very difficult though to get it to focus-lock on any object in dim conditions. Overall satisfaction remains at 3-star.