Sony DSC-P100 Review

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100

Steve's Conclusion

At the top of Sony's ultra-compact list, the Cyber-shot DSC-P100 combines a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens with a high-resolution 5-megapixel imager, also found on its brother the Cyber-shot DSC-W1. This camera offers point-n-shoot simplicity in Auto exposure mode, or you can select one of the 9 pre-programmed scene modes to obtain proper exposure under select shooting conditions. You can select finished still image sizes from 2592x1944 for large prints all the way down to 640x480 for e-mail or use on web pages. The 2592(3:2) mode is configured in a 3:2 aspect ratio that is optimized for printing 4x6- inch prints. You'll enjoy the ability to capture 640x480 movies with sound at up to 30fps when recording in "VX Fine" movie mode. This camera also supports PictBridge technology, so you can direct- print to any PictBridge compatible printer.

The P100's large 1.8" TFT color LCD (134,000 pixels) is great for framing or reviewing your images. Sony uses a high quality non-glare surface on their LCDs' which allows them to be more useable in the bright sunlight. This is a great asset when framing and composing your images or deciding whether to keep or delete an image. It also features Auto Brightness, that "gains up" the LCD when shooting in low light situations.

The P-100 is ready to go from pressing the power button in under 1.5 seconds. That is pretty amazing considering it has to extend the lens as well as boot up. From power-up to first image captured measured an extremely quick 1.6 seconds. Shutter lag (the delay from pressing the shutter button until a picture is actually captured) was a fast 1/10 of a second when pre- focused and only 2/10 of a second including autofocus. In Program AE mode the shot to shot time was approx. 1.5 seconds between shots. There are two Burst modes, Burst and Multi Burst. Burst mode captures a maximum number of images depending on the Size/Quality settings. In 5MP/Fine mode, it captured 9 images in approx. 6.1 seconds. It only takes about 9 seconds for the camera to process a full buffer. Shooting in Multi Burst mode, with the interval set at 1/30, captured 16 images in less than a second. When using Multi Burst mode, the image size is locked at 1MP and all 16 images a recorded within a single animated frame. Switching from record mode to playback or vise versa takes less than a second. All of our test were done using a 512MB Memory Stick Pro card, with the image size/quality set at 5M(2592x1944)/Fine mode and the flash off. All times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera setting, media, etc.

I was pleased with the overall image quality in 5M/Fine mode. Our outdoor test shots were both well exposed and richly saturated, and had almost no chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in high contrast areas. The lens produced sharp results throughout its 38 - 114mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom range, with a moderate degree of barrel distortion at extreme wide-angle and a bit of pin cushioning at full telephoto. It zooms smoothly throughout its 3X range. The camera's "Auto" white balance setting works great for all types of outdoor shooting as well as most indoor shots. The only time I had to manually set the white balance was when shooting in very mixed lighting conditions.

When shooting indoors you will have to work within the limited flash range (11.5 feet) and 38mm wide angle focal length. You'll obtain the best indoor results when shooting portraits of individuals or small groups. Capturing a well- exposed flash image of a large-sized room is beyond the P100's capability. The red eye reduction mode provided very little red eye in our flash test images. The P100 is equipped with a focus-assist lamp which it uses automatically when needed; as a result its low light autofocus performance is exceptional. Closeup macro shots with the flash were excellent as the camera "throttles down" the flash for nearly perfect exposures every time; the P100 would be a good choice for shooting close-up images of small objects for inclusion in online auction listings.

The P100 makes an excellent choice for those wanting an ultra-compact, high- performance camera that produces high-quality 5-megapixel images. That's plenty of resolution to print photo-quality 8x10-inch or larger prints. With it's rugged all-metal body and built in lens protector, you don't have to worry about little bumps and scratches or losing the lens cap. If these are features you're looking for in a digital camera, than the Cyber-shot DSC- P100 is just the ticket.

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Want a second opinion?

Imaging-Resource's P100 review

DC View's P100 review

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