Sony DSC-S780 Review
One of Sony's new "S" series models is the CyberShot S780, which is the "big brother" to the S750. It features an 8-megapixel imaging sensor, 3x optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD screen, and updated Face Detection Software. This new software allows the camera to distinguish between children and adults, as well as automatically adjusting the camera settings to properly expose the detected faces.
The S780 is a compact, entry-level digicam. The controls have been well placed, and the operation (menu searching, etc.) is very easy. It can be operated using one or both hands and the zoom control sits conveniently under your thumb on the back. There is a mode dial that allows for easy access to all shooting modes, and the 4-way controller makes camera navigation and image playback a breeze. The one problem that I found is that even the slightest bump to the battery door will cause it to fall open; which does get a little annoying. The 2.5" LCD screen is bright enough to allow you to see, even in bright light with some reflections, and it gains up in low light to help you frame your shots.
Performance from the S780 was below average for an entry-level camera. It took 3.1 seconds before it was able to capture its first image after being turned on. The shutter lag was just 1/10 of a second when the camera is pre-focused, but it took just over 1 second when the camera had to focus before shooting. In single shot mode, the camera was able to capture an image once every 3 seconds without the flash and once every 3.4 with it. There is also a burst mode that allows you to capture 3 full-sized images in just 1.7 seconds. The flash is not available in this mode. Our tests were completed using a Sandisk Ultra II 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo memory card, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The S780 captures nice photos outdoors. The exposures were decent, some instances looked a little bright (over exposed), and the color saturation is nice and vivid. The 3x optical zoom lens, with a 35mm equivalent of 35-105mm, is great for shooting landscape and portrait photography on the wide end, and the zoom end is good for singling out an individual or for framing your landscape shots. It is not, however, enough to bring your distant objects much closer. On the wide end of the zoom you will notice some barrel distortion and some slight chromatic aberration (purple fringing) throughout the range.
Our indoor quality results were also good. The colors looked natural with or without the flash in most shots. We did notice that the white balance had a little trouble with our M&M man shot, which was under some mixed florescent lighting. In our portrait sample, when shooting from just a couple feet away, the flash was a bit too powerful and color was washed out by it. When shooting from further away, the flash performed a little better. The flash has a range of up to 11.5' when shooting in ISO auto. It did OK but raised the ISO sensitivity fairly high when the subject was too far away. It also seemed to have a little trouble adjusting to subjects that were very close to the camera as shown in the macro and portrait shots on the samples page.
Movie mode only allows you to shoot with a resolution of 320x240. This used to be common, but lately most cameras have been including a 640x480 resolution setting as well as larger HD format modes. There were very few options for you to adjust. The movies will record as long as you have room on your card (max 2GB clip size), and with the small resolution, the file sizes are relatively small. The actual videos were clear and run very smoothly. The audio is clear, but when you press the shutter release to stop recording, you will hear it at the end of the clip.
Powering the S780 is a 3.6v 980 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. The battery lasted long enough to capture around 100 images 5 videos and complete all of out tests before needing to be recharged. The external charger makes it very easy for you to keep a second battery charged and handy at all times. We recommend this to avoid missing out on a great photo opportunity due to a dead battery.
Bottom Line - The Sony CyberShot S780 is a stylish and durable entry-level digicam. The 8-megapixel imaging sensor produced images that
had decent overall quality, but the performance is lagging behind the competition a bit. With a street price of US$180 or less, this model is
in a very competitive market. It is worth taking a look at other manufacturer's offerings to find a camera with better performance
and more features for about the same price.
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