Most helpful positive review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great step up from a point & shoot
on December 13, 2010
I've never owned an SLR camera, just basic point-and-shoot digital cameras, so my review is coming from that perspective, rather than someone used to the features available on most SLRs.
First off, the "intelligent auto" is by far superior to any automatic mode I've ever experienced before. I've had a tendency to use "programmable auto" or even "manual" mode on my previous cameras any time I really wanted the color balance, shutter speed, and ISO settings to end up the way I'd want. I probably never have to do that with this camera, other than for low-light, slow-shutter photos (the default for the camera is to up the ISO instead of slowing the shutter beyond a certain point). That's not to say that I don't like playing around with the manual settings anyhow -- I do -- but I really don't have to in order to get good photos. Many of the other automatic-type features are also great, such as the facial recognition (which works great about 80% of the time -- has trouble with faces turned at an angle, though) and the smile-detecting auto-shutter.
The video quality is phenomenal, and I like that there isn't some unnatural limit on the length (I want to say the limit is about half an hour or so for HD quality, but I've never come close to reaching that). This will basically serve as my camcorder, and unless I'm planning to record a play or something, I think it'll be more than sufficient for that purpose.
The only downside I've encountered so far is tied to the lens more than to the camera -- I didn't realize how much I'd miss the ability to zoom in and out. There's only so much you can do with cropping, and sometimes getting closer to the target just isn't feasible. So, I'd probably suggest buying the camera with one of the other lenses if you're torn between this one (for compact/portability) and another, more flexible lens. This lens is the smallest, but it's still not really going to be pocket-sized (unless you have massive cargo pockets or something). I'm almost certainly going to get another lens sometime soon, and once I do that I expect I'll be using the other lens a lot more than this one.
Other than that... the battery life improved greatly when I downloaded the firmware update from Sony. Make sure you do that -- it's not clearly explained in the product manual, but it's pretty straightforward if you look it up on the Sony product support website.
In sum, I got this because my wife was going to be giving birth to our first child, and I wanted to be able to take good-quality family photos for the next few years. So far, I think I made the right choice.