Sony DSC-T10 Review
Sony's Cyber-Shot DSC-T10 is yet another "ultra-compact" model to add to their already popular "T" series of digital cameras. Offering unique style with its sleek body and variety of colors schemes to choose from, the T10 also shares many of the same features found on its sibling the DSC-T30, which we reviewed earlier this year (2006.) These features include the same Carl Zeiss Folded 3x optical zoom lens, 7-megapixel CCD imager, double anti-blur protection system, 640x480 "VX" Fine movie mode and 58MB of internal memory. The only real differences are the T10 features a slightly different body design and a smaller 2.5-inch LCD monitor.
This is what we consider a point-n-shoot model, that can be used by just about anyone, regardless of their experience level. The Auto exposure mode is perfect for those who want picture taking simplicity, while the more creative user can choose from 9 pre-programmed scene modes that will help them capture great shots in various shooting environments. Don't worry, Sony did not forget those novice users out there. The Program AE mode allows a bit more control over the exposure process with options for ISO, White balance, Metering, Focus, Sharpness, Contrast, etc.
Like almost all of the past "T" series models, I was pleased with the ergonomics of the T10. While extremely compact, I still found it offered a comfortable feel in my hands, and the various controls are positioned quite conveniently across the body. The only real issue we saw was with the position of the lens. Being located so close to the edge of the camera, it is very easy to catch your left index finger in the frame. I found the "pinch" technique worked well. The onscreen menu system was easy to navigate, and allowed for quick changes to camera settings. The T10 features a nice 2.5-inch LCD display, which seems to have become the industry standard size for consumer cameras. This Clear Photo display worked great outdoors, and unlike the T30, it "gains up" nicely when shooting in marginal lighting. If you still don't have enough light, the AF-assist lamp will illuminate your subject for a brief moment while obtaining a focus lock. Overall the display was a pleasure to use, with only one real issue, fingerprints. The slightest amount of oil from your fingers will show on this LCD; nothing a quick wipe with your cotton T-shirt can't take care of.
Shooting performance was excellent. From sliding open the lens cover till the first shot was captured measured an impressive 1.5 seconds. Shutter lag, the time between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was instantaneous when pre-focused, and only 1/10 of a second including autofocus. Shooting in single exposure mode, The shot to shot delay averaged 1.3 seconds between frames without flash, and 2 - 2.5 seconds with the flash, depending on the distance of your subject and the ever important, battery strength. When using the red eye reduction flash option, these times slowed to about 3.5 seconds.
The T10 has 2 modes of continuous image capture; Burst and Multi Burst. In Burst mode, I was able to capture 5 images in 3.4 seconds. During the capture sequence the viewfinder briefly displays the last captured image, to help you while following moving subjects. Multi Burst records 16 images at a user-specified interval of 1/30, 1/15, or 1/7.5 seconds and combines them into a single 1-megapixel image / collage. I found this would be most useful while recording an athletic movement, such as a golf swing or tennis stroke. For later evaluation; when reviewed in-camera, the images can be viewed frame-by-frame or as a continuous sequence. The above times were measured using a SanDisk ULTRA II 512MB Memory Stick PRO Duo memory card, using program mode, size/quality set at 7M/Fine, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on camera settings, lighting conditions, media, etc.
I was very pleased with the results of our 7-megapixel Fine images. While outdoors, we captured sharp pictures that showed good overall exposure and rich color saturation. Noise was very low in high and low contrast areas, and I noticed very little traces of chromatic aberrations (purple fringing around highlights.) Our outdoor portrait shots were very nice, displaying sharp facial detail and natural skin tones. Indoors also produces good results, as long as you stay within the limited flash range of about 9.2 feet at wide angle (ISO Auto.) I found this flash to be sufficient enough for indoor close-up portraits, but lacks the power needed to illuminate larger open rooms; a typical problem for consumer digicams. Luckily the T10 features a scene mode called High sensitivity, which boosts the cameras ISO setting to 1000. This will allow you to take sharper handheld pictures in lower lighting conditions as well as extend the zoom range to approx. 16.1 feet at wide angle. While noise levels do increase, the usefulness of this feature is much more important.
Red eye is a common problem with "ultra-compact" models, because the unit's flash is located so close to the lens. I did see red eye occurrences a majority of the time when shooting indoors, however, enabling the red eye reduction flash option remedied this situation. You can see what I mean by taking a look at the examples on our samples page.
If you like recording movies, then you'll be pleased with the T10's movie mode. It consistently produced good results when using its 640�480 "VX Fine" mode. The frame rate is 30fps, however, movies captured at this quality will consume nearly 1.4-megabytes per second, and require the use of Memory Stick Duo Pro media; so make sure you purchase a large capacity card if you plan on recording movies often. This camera's Steady Shot technology helps in reducing the effects of camera movement from shaky hands, and the high ISO capabilities of this camera allowed me to record movies at night when other models could not. You can also use the optical zoom while recording, and the T10's AF system does a great job of keeping your subject(s) in focus.
The T10 is powered by a proprietary NP-FT1 3.6v 2.4WH InfoLITHIUM battery, that Sony claims will allow the camera to capture up to 250 images. I found battery life was quite good, capturing over 90 shots and several movie clips, as well as conducting our other tests on a single charge. Since the battery is charged out of the camera in the handy AC charger, we recommend you purchase a spare pack just in case. You wouldn't want to lose that once in a lifetime shot because of a dead battery now would you?
Bottom line - Sony has created another awesome "ultra-compact" package with excellent image quality, speedy performance, and loads of useful exposure modes, all wrapped in a very stylish and durable shell. The "paint job" of the white model we tested was very nice, with an appearance similar to a classic car in pearl white. With 7-megapixels of resolution, you'll be able to create beautiful prints up to poster size. At an MSRP of US$399, it offers an excellent value for a camera in this category, and with the various color choices, this digicam is sure to be very popular with trendy users.
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