Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T30
- Great colour balance, Interesting design
- Costly, Image Noise, Continuous shot mode
A competent model, the T30 offers reasonable image quality but suffers because of some noise issues.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
The T series of cameras has always been Sony's fashion orientated line-up and the T30 continues this trend. Sporting a stylish, rounded design with a slide down front cover, this model certainly looks the part, and in general it performed reasonably well, with great results in our colour and speed tests. However it was let down by above average levels of image noise and a less than robust feature set.
Sony's latest crop of cameras have shown exceptional results when it comes to colour representation and the T30 did not disappoint either. Scoring 5.84 in Imatest's colour test, it joins the elite group that has managed to score under 6 in this area. There were some minor inaccuracies across the red, blue and green spectrums, but they were miniscule enough to be unnoticeable in our shots.
Its sharpness result was not quite as impressive, with Imatest awarding it a score of 1224. There was some noticeable colour fringing in our test shots and things weren't quite as crisp as we'd generally expect of a 7 megapixel sensor, but for the most part our shots were more than adequate, and at smaller magnifications they looked pretty good. This was assisted by the T30's low chromatic aberration result of just .063%, which is excellent for a compact camera.
Unfortunately in our noise test the T30's performance just wasn't up to par. At a low ISO setting of 100 Imatest gave it a noise score of 1.02%, which is extremely high. Most cameras score in the .4-.6% range, and very few get results over 1%, indicating this model's pictures are extremely noisy. This was evident from the second we opened our test shots, particularly our outdoors scenes, which were quite speckled and grainy. Thankfully the T30's noise is rather small and fine, making it less obtrusive than on some other models, but it is still an issue.
The T30 doesn't scale well with higher ISO settings either. It boasts a rather impressive maximum setting of ISO 1000, but at this level we found our shots to be unusable. Covered in large clots of blue and yellow noise which are visible even when zoomed out, it rendered our shots a blurry mess. If you need high sensitivities for low light or fast paced shooting, give the T30 a miss.
While it does offer ISO 1000, the rest of the feature set is a little disappointing. There are a number of white balance presets, but no custom option, and the scene modes number just nine. The burst mode it is quite sluggish, capturing pictures at just 1.2 frames per second; not fast enough to be of much use. However, we were quite pleased to see a bracketing mode and there are quite a few different focus and metering options. Rounding out the feature set are the standard sharpness, contrast and brightness controls as well as some colour modes like sepia and black and white.
Although the continuous shot mode may have been slow, the rest of the camera's performance was anything but. It performed lightning quick in all our speed tests. With a shutter lag of just .05 seconds, a shot-to-shot time of 1.2 seconds and a startup time of 1.3 seconds, using the T30 is an extremely speedy and intuitive experience.
It follows a similar design pattern to the previous T series models, with a curved silver body and slide-down cover to protect the lens and flash. It looks quite good, and is a nice change from a regular compact design. The slider, often a weak point on such units, is well constructed and feels sturdy and all the controls are well positioned. Sony has used some fairly tiny buttons on this model, but they are spaced apart and quite tactile, giving even our large fingers no issues.
Of course there is a good reason why the controls are so small; the T30 sports a giant 3in LCD. This display dominates the back of the unit and makes framing shots with no viewfinder a little easier. This particular screen isn't as good as some other 3in models we've looked at recently, exhibiting some ghosting and detail loss. However, when used merely as an aid in taking shots this isn't a huge factor.
Overall the T30 is a solid albeit uninspiring compact camera. Its design is quite attractive, and its photographs, while noisy, will satisfy most people at standard magnifications.
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