Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T300
- Sharp images, stylish design, touch screen interface, low levels of noise
- Some over-sharpening, interface can be sluggish, slow start-up time
An attractive package for those looking for a stylish and fairly simple compact. It can be slow at times and there are some image quality issues, but the pictures are fine for small print sizes and many will appreciate the aesthetics and futuristic menu system.
Price$ 649.00 (AUD)
Sony's latest T series camera, the Cyber-Shot DSC-T300 looks and feels very similar to past models. It sports the same touch screen style interface found on its predecessor, the Cyber-Shot DSC-T200, and has seen an upgrade to the sensor which now sits at 10.1 megapixels. The usual array of features are also present, however, the camera is hampered by a few image quality issues and some annoying interface quirks.
As with the previous model, the key selling point here is the fashion-oriented design coupled with the touch screen interface. This combination gives the camera an extremely suave, minimalist feel, with the entire back of the unit occupied by the mammoth 3.5in screen.
However there are some issues. The touch screen still requires a fairly firm press and the interface lags a little at times which becomes frustrating for experienced camera users. We found we could navigate a regular button-based menu much faster than we could the T300's menu.
The screen also suffers a little from a low resolution. It may be big, but it can be difficult to tell how in focus your shot is when the image is pixelated. On the plus side, the touch screen has the nifty benefit of allowing you to simply tap somewhere and make that the focus point.
With regards to image quality, our tests revealed pretty similar results to past T series units. Sharpness and resolution has improved thanks to the upgrade to the sensor (going from 8 to 10 megapixels) and the pictures are extremely clear and crisp. However Imatest detected a fair bit of over-sharpening and this was evident in our shots too with some edges looking a little more processed than usual.
Chromatic aberration issues were the main problem with the shots. There was a fair amount of haloing in high contrast areas and detail loss towards the edges of the frame. Purple fringing was also evident although it wasn't as problematic as we've seen on some other units.
Colour balance was fairly impressive considering there is no custom white balance option. All the primary colours were a little darker than normal and were quite strongly saturated; most notably reds. We were particularly impressed with the rich accurate greens of foliage in our outdoors shots.
Image noise is well controlled with everything up to ISO 400 being perfectly usable. The noise produced at this point is colourful but fairly subtle. Once you increase to ISO 800, however, you'll begin to see a drop in clarity as the noise becomes more prominent.
One feature of note is the dynamic range optimiser, which helps tweak the level of clarity in dark areas. It does a pretty impressive job of bringing out detail in deep shadows, however the downside is it also washes out the colours a little, so use it with care. Other features include face detect and a fairly solid optical image stabilisation to help complement the 5x zoom lens.
Speed is another area the T300 seems to struggle. It takes roughly three seconds from start-up to first shot and shot-to-shot time can be a little fickle. In our indoors timed tests it took just over two seconds, but outside we often had a 'processing' message pop up and the shot took considerably longer to write. Fortunately shutter speed was very speedy at 0.05 seconds.
Aesthetically this unit pleases with the same slide down front panel that this series is known for. This time around they have placed the slide bar in the middle rather than towards the top, and attached a small black flap that covers the lens when closed. It isn't a big change but it does look nicer.
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PCW Evaluation Team
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