Sony CyberShot DSC-T70
Sony is at it again, making some surprisingly great cameras. This time, it's not about a gazillion megapixels, it's not about the thinnest camera in the world, nor do they have a TV-sized LCD. It's about making really gorgeous cameras with fantastic technology. They have a 16:9 touchscreen on the back, but that's just the start. Since the cameras are still pre-production and haven’t even been announced, I didn’t have all the technical data.
Sony CyberShot DSC-T200
Let's start at the beginning. These two camears (not available in stores yet, so hold on to your horses) are Sony CyberShot DSC-T70 and DSC-T200, the smallest and most elegant line of cameras that Sony produces. They’re engineering marvels – thin, well built, with clean limes and periscope lenses, meaning that no matter how much you zoom, the camera stays exactly the same size. Most importantly, they’re easy to use.
At the first glance, it's obvious that the T70 is more of a girly cam, while the T200 is a man's, erm, tiny camera. The extremely fashionable white casing (iPod, anyone?) of the T70looks stunningly gorgeous, with chrome details and the 16:9 screen on the back just adding to the whole picture. The T200, on the other hand, is all black and has sharper lines, making it really butch.
They’re the iPod of digicams. Simple and fascinating.
The cameras turn on by sliding the lens cover downwards.
The T200 has a 5x optical zoom.
Some other technical data - the T70 measures 90 x 56 x 23 mm, while the T200 is a tiny bit larger, coming in at 92 x 58 x 22 mm. The important difference is the screen size and the lens. The T70 has a slightly smaller screen, 3.0" to be exact, and a 3x optical zoom. On the other hand, the T200 has a huge 3.5" screen (iPhone, anyone?) and a 5x optical zoom lens. Both cameras have the SuperSteadyShot, which in plain terms means a stabilised lens. And believe me, it shows, especially if you zoom to the maximum 5x zoom. Everything else, except for the shape, is the same. Inside, there’s a 8 MP sensor that’s capable of producing pictures in a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning that you’ll be able to show them off on your brand spanking new huge HD LCD.
Both cameras are very elegant and easy to use.
The top buttons are small, making them quite awkward to use, but you seldom need anything else than the shutter and zoom buttons.
Sony makes a lot of HDTVs, and they all have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Images from these cameras will look perfect on these TVs.
Both cameras have a touchscreen. It doesn't take long to get used to it. Besides, in modern cameras, being able to show off the shot you just took is more important than having a bunch of buttons and a smaller screen.
Image capture can be completely automatic, just point and shoot. The P mode makes it possible to perform a few adjustments, but there are no aperture- or shutter-priority modes, but that's pretty much the same as with most mini cameras. There are a lot of scene modes, though. There's high ISO no flash mode, slow sync (long shutter time with flash), landscape mode, snow mode, beach mode that emphasises the sky, fireworks mode, and then there's the final coup de grace, something that is sure to turn you into an attention junkie. This is called the smile shutter mode. More about this later.
Compared to a standard AA battery, the screen doesn’t look that big.
Both cameras use a Li-Ion battery and a MemoryStick for storing pictures.
Both cameras include Face Detection technology. This is no big news, loads of cameras have this – the camera detects the faces and adjusts focus and exposure accordingly. But Sony went the extra mile. Without even holding the camera, let alone the shutter, the T70 and the T200 will take a shot the moment somebody in the frame smiles. Sounds odd? Let me explain.
You set Smile Shutter in the menu.
When there's a smile in the frame, the camera goes off. It’s a very interesting feature that’s sure to make the camera extremely popular.
This is the Smile Shutter feature. It works in cooperation with the face recognition feature, with the added bonus of detecting when someone smiled. All it takes is selecting the Smile Shutter scene mode, and as soon as someone smiles, the camera takes a shot. Just press the shutter to activate the feature, leave the camera alone and as soon as someone smiles, SNAP!
It's also useful as a self-timer substitute. Believe me, it’s addictive and fun. It might even help you meet some people.
Now, let's take a look at the fascinating 16:9 LCD. Its only shortcoming is its rather low resolution. The text, icons and photographs just don't appear sharp enough. This might be due to the fact that I just finished testing Sony's G1 camera, which has a fantastic screen with almost a million pixels.
Sony CyberShot DSC-T200 to the left and the T70 to the right. The T200 is packed to the brim - I don't think there's any free space in the camera.
The Nikon P5000 has a standard 2.5 inch screen. It looks absolutely tiny compared to the T200 screen.
The two cameras have just four buttons each. They're used for turning the camera on and off, zooming, image review and taking the picture. There's no need for additional buttons, thanks to the touchscreen. It’s just another one of their many strengths.
This makes the cameras easier to use, too. At the side of the screen, there's a row of icons. Just click them and there are your settings, along with short descriptions. Not only that, just touch the screen while you’re taking a picture and drag the focus point where you want it. It’s that easy.
Unfortunately, the wide-angle capabilities are very limited. The cameras only go to 39 mm (35 mm equivalent), making it tough to take group shots.
Both in wide and tele positions, the image quality is nothing to write home about – not very sharp and very compressed.
The flash did well, as it didn't overexpose the subject.
Slow sync mode. This way, in low light, the camera still gets some ambient lighting, making the pictures appear more natural.
Smile Shutter mode.
Macro goes down to 1 cm.
This picture clearly shows colour patches in the blue sky. This isn’t due to compressing the image for the web, it was like that in the original.
The camera is fast enough to capture a few elusive moments.
Sony CyberShot DSC-T70 and DSC-T200 are incredibly beautiful and easy to use cameras. As if that wasn't enough, they have a few features that are sure to make you the center of attention. If fiddling with settings is your thing, well, you can do it via the touchscreen, as long as you don't want to adjust shutter time and aperture. All in all, don't expect too much – you'll get great 13 x 18 cm (5 x 7'') prints, but no huge blowups. If you're looking for a gorgeous and technically superior minicam, these two cameras are perfect for you. On the other hand, if it's the ultimate image quality you're after, take a look at the competition.
Of course, you’ll have to wait for the two cameras to actually become available in shops.