Sony DSC-P92 Review
The Cyber-shot P92 is a compact 5-megapixel digicam that sits at the high-end of Sony's DSC-Pxx series for 2003. Its siblings include the DSC-P72, DSC-P52 and DSC-P32. The DSC-P92 has a 3x zoom (39 to 117mmequivalent) and a Smart Zoom. The DSC-P72 offers the same 3x optical zoom lens with a 3-megapixel imager while theDSC-P52 features a 2x optical zoom lens and the DSC-P32 has no optical zoom. The Smart Zoom is a new feature for the DSC-P series and is useable at 3.0M resolution or less on the P92. The pictures created with Smart Zoom were of reasonable quality compared to other digicams using digital zooms.
The P92 is a good performer in low light situations, because of Sony's great focus-assist system and the fast F2.8 maximum aperture lens. In Macro mode the autofocus allows you to capture images as close as 4 inches from the end of the lens and squelches the flash enough to get a great exposure at very close ranges. The lens did exhibit a small amount of barrel distortion at full wide angle. Sony's P-series cameras provide an efficient retractable lens system to protect the lens from damage.
The P92 would not be able to perform at its' best if it didn't have an AF illuminator lamp. In very low-light conditions Sony's AF illuminating system is one of the most accurate that we have tested. Auto focusing is also enhanced by Sony's three area multi-point autofocus system which helps to zero-in on your subject even if it's not in the center of the frame. If you want to use the P92 as just a "point-n-shoot" camera, you'll be pleased.
The P92 large 1.5" TFT color LCD (61,000 ) is good for viewing 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.
The P92's 2.5-second start-up time from power on to the capture of your first image is quite impressive! Shutter lag, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured 2/10 second when pre-focused, or 5/10 second including autofocus time. The shot to shot time is less than 1.5 seconds even at the largest image size and highest quality. Add about another 3-4 seconds if using the flash. The P92's continuous mode, called Burst 3, captured 3 images in 1.2 seconds. The Sony DSC-P92's responsiveness will allow you to capture many unposed, spontaneous moments, and shots of moving subjects. It only takes approx.3 sec.to write an image to the "Memory Stick". There's no need to wait for it to finish writing since it streams the data to the card so you can shoot continuously.During our testing, images were taken continuously for approx. 2-min. without any processing delay noticed.
The P92's movie mode uses the updated MPEG VX resolution that yields a 640x480 size movie at 16fps, the length is limited only by the storage media's capacity and additional movies can be shot almost instantly. Those big movies look great but they do eat up the memory space, so be sure to carry several large "Memory Sticks" if you plan on making a lot of movies.
When the P92 is used in the AUTO mode, you won't have to worry about any other camera settings to obtain proper exposures. The P92 has several automatic scene modes to optimize the cameras' settings for specific shooting conditions. The Landscape mode sets the focus to infinity, while the Night scene modes use slower shutter speeds (up to 2 seconds) and Slow-Syncro Flash to illuminate foreground objects. There is no direct control of the shutter speed or aperture but by selecting the Twilight or Twilight+ modes you can capture some fantastic low light or nights shots. The P92 has automatic Noise Reduction when the shutter speed is longer than 1/2 second to reduce the amount of electronic noise in the shadow areas of a long exposure. Sony also included Beach and Snow scene modes with this camera; the Beach mode worked well to deepen the aqua blue color of the water, while the Snow mode sets the best exposure for a bright all- white scene.
Only 2-AA batteries are needed to power the P92. The camera package includes two high-capacity 2100MAh rechargeable batteries and 13-hour charger.I was happy to see that Sony is using standard AA size batteries to power the P92. Too many cameras use proprietary battery packs which are expensive and often obscure. It's nice to be able to use rechargeable or "off the shelf" batteries. There's many brands of NiMH AA size rechargeable batteries to choose from as well as fast AC or portable 12v chargers. I found the battery life was good even when using the color LCD frequently to check the pictures and test the camera's menu system; we were able to capture 130 shots before the batteries were exhausted. Your results may even be better.
The DSC-P92's images are excellent. (see Sample Photos page). The image quality, sharpness and color balance can even be compared to more expensive cameras with the same image resolution capabilities. The P92 is a performer even in low-light conditions and is a good choice for anyone needing a smaller size 5-megapixel camera that delivers high quality images. The VGA-size movies are a great feature. At a $380 price point (as of 10/2003) it won't dig too deep in your wallet. I think the Sony CyberShot DSC-P92 will make a great camera for new or experienced users, just be sure to purchase a larger Memory Stick and a second set of NiMH batteries.
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