Sony DSC-H10 Review
By Movable Type Admin
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-H10 is the little brother to the DSC-H50 we reviewed earlier this year. They share many of the same features, like the Super Steady Shot optical image stabilization, new advanced sports shooting mode, the BIONZ image processor and a slew of in-camera retouching features. The H10 is slightly smaller in size, which makes it easier to carry. This model includes an 8-Megapixel imaging sensor, 10x optical zoom and a large 3-inch Clear Photo LCD Plus screen as well as the ability to record video at standard TV resolution of 640x480 at 30 fps.
One of the big new features added to the H10 is the 8.1-megapixel SuperHAD CCD. Sony claims that this sensor allows more light to reach each pixel, increasing sensitivity and reducing noise. In other words, you will be able to shoot at faster shutter speeds in the same lighting conditions than with previous imaging sensors. The next big addition is the new Advanced Sports shooting mode. This mode allows the camera to analyze and anticipate what your subject is doing as the shutter release is half pressed. To make sure that your images are sharp, the camera will use a shutter speed of up to 1/2000 of a second and 1/4000 of a second in Advanced Sports Mode, as long as there is enough available light. Finally there is the 10x optical zoom, which is a bit smaller that the 15x zoom of the DSC-H50. Don't let this discourage you because the DSC-H10's lens is still great for getting right up close to your subject and compliments the smaller body very well.
Unlike the DSC-H50, you do not have a choice between the "tilt-up" LCD screen or the eye level viewfinder (EVF). In order to help reduce the size of the camera, the DSC-H10 only offers a fixed color LCD screen to frame and review pictures with. Thankfully, there's an anti-reflective coating and bright image display, so you will have no problems using it to frame and view your images, even in direct sunlight. The various controls are placed similarly to past models, however the play button has been moved up above the LCD screen where the EVF would be.
The DSC-H10's performance is fantastic. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in performance. On start up it is able to capture its first image in less than 2 seconds, great for having the 10x zoom to contend with. There is virtually no shutter lag when the camera is pre-focused, and just 2/10 of a second when allowing the auto-focus to run. In single shot mode, the camera captured 5 images in 4.9 seconds without and 7.9 seconds with the flash. Compare that to the 6.9 and 11.8 of the H50. The camera also features a burst mode, which allows the camera to capture 8-megapixel images at over 2 fps as it captured 10 images in 4.2 seconds for us. Our tests were completed using a 1GB Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo, Program mode, ISO Auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Image quality from our outdoor images is very good. We see excellent exposures and rich colors. And like the DSC-H50, the only real problem is the slight amount of chromatic aberration that shows up in the museum shot. The 10x optical zoom has a 35mm range of 38-380mm giving you the ability to shoot group portrait and landscape photography with the wide end and still be able to get up close and personal with a distant subject or single out a person in a large group photograph. As with all wide angle shots, you will see some slight barrel distortion as well as some chromatic aberrations.
Our indoor images were also very good. The camera does a very good job with and without the flash, on adjusting the white balance and keeping the colors looking natural. When shooting at the lower ISO settings, the sharpness and detail is outstanding, and at ISO 400 the images still look good, although you start to lose some of the finer details. The built in flash has a range of up to 23.1' at ISO auto (wide angle), so there is plenty of power to light up a decent sized room for large group portraits. The flash is also controlled well when shooting up close as seen in our Macro shot. Our indoor portraits show excellent skin tones and exposures. However, as the subject moves, sometimes the face detection loses the face for a time and the focus jumps. This isn't a huge problem unless all of your subjects are moving a lot.
Movie quality is good for a digicam. It offers you the ability to record in VGA (640x480) and QVGA (320x240) modes with sound. The camera did a good job of exposing the subject, but you do see some spots that are blown out, as it did have a little trouble with the setting sun. The 10x zoom can not be used while recording, but it can be set before hand. Even with the O.I.S., it can be hard to hold the camera steady when you approach the telephoto end. Another thing to remember is that the built in microphone picks up the sounds closest to the camera and will not be able to pick up all of the sounds that are out where the telephoto end of the zoom can reach. In order to record in 640 Fine mode, you'll need to use a Memory Stick PRO DUO memory card.
Powering the DSC-H10 is a 3.6V, 960 mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. This battery allowed me to capture almost 100 images, several videos and complete all of our tests on a single charge; with power to spare. Sony claims that it can capture up to 310 images. Also included in the box is a portable external charger, making it easy to keep a spare battery charged and on hand at all times.
Bottom Line - Sporting a 10x zoom lens with optical image stabilization, 8-megapixel imaging sensor, new sports shooting mode and a very powerful built in flash, the Cyber-shot DSC-H10 is one very versatile camera. These features combined with the outstanding performance and very good image quality make this a great deal with at US$299 or less. If you like the features of this model but want more zooming power, an EVF, a "flip-up" LCD screen or more resolution then check out our Cyber-shot DSC-H50 review.
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