Sony DSC-U20 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The CyberShot DSC-U20 is designed as an entry level, "I just want to take pictures" camera and is an excellent example of just how far the miniaturization of digital cameras has come. For $269 (as of 1/2003) you can now have a tiny 2-megapixel digital camera that takes much better pictures than one would expect. It has no optical or digital zoom but its auto focus range is from four inches to infinity. This is the second of two cameras that are built similarly and called "CyberShot U". The DSC-U10, a 1.3 megapixel version of the U20 has been out for a while now. The image quality of the CyberShot DSC-U20 is good and will easily compete with larger cameras.
The DSC-U20 is designed for the Point-n-Shoot user that wants to carry a camera without being limited by its size. Its user controls are adequately minimal, well labelled and logical. The Mode slide switch on the top changes between the Still Record, Movie and Playback modes. The camera is an automatic exposure type with no Manual exposure but does have manual focus preset capability. From sliding open the lens cover to capturing your first frame is under five seconds and frame to frame capture rate is a little under two seconds. These times are based on 1632 x 1224 images without the flash on. For flash pictures add three or four seconds. There is a continuous "Burst" drive mode that allows shooting up to five consecutive frames at three frames per second in the 640 x 480 mode only. Playback of images is also robust. The only thing missing is a Video Out feature for viewing on a TV.
Still images can be captured at 1632 x 1224 or 640 x 480 (VGA) resolution and stored in standard JPEG format. Up to 15 seconds of 160 x 112 motion video without audio can be captured per clip in MPEG-1 format.
The Memory Stick is the storage media for this camera, they're available up to 128MB which would handle about 246 images at 1632 x 1224 size. The power source is two AAA size batteries that are available everywhere. NiMH batteries are the best choice as they provide more current and are not thrown away after just one use. Sony includes a set and the charger with the camera. We strongly suggest picking up a couple more pairs as the LCD has to be on all the time, there is no optical viewfinder. The LCD can be set so that the backlight is off which will help with battery consumption. When operating like this, we were very pleased with the drain rate for only having two AAA batteries for power.
The CyberShot DSC-U20 delivers sharp and true to life color images. The $269 price (1/2003) is reasonable for a camera with this resolution, size and picture quality. It's a perfect choice for anyone that needs a micro-digicam that can be kept in your pocket or purse (or worn around your neck) and always be ready to grab that special picture.
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We have all been in situations where we are forced to weigh the costs of taking the perfect photo with the risks of doing irreparable harm to our Sony DSC-U20.