Top critical review
374 people found this helpful
Great zoom, Image Stabil., a little slow
on December 21, 2008
I searched for along time for this kind of camera. (in the $200 range) I was drawn by the 10x zoom and Optical Image Stabilization(IS). (both work great and are very nice to have!) After using it for a few weeks, I have had mixed results. Before you read on, understand that I also shoot with a canon xti, often with a $300 50mm lens on it, so I think my standards might be a little higher than the average user. With that said, here is what I think:
When you shoot in auto mode, the ISO it chooses (ISO 200) will not be as clear as the camera is capable of. Thus I find you have to use a Program (P) mode and set it to ISO 80 to get better reduced-noise pictures. Otherwise pictures can be grainy. The pictures are poor at ISO higher than 200.
Focusing is a bit slow in low light, and unless you can balance the camera on something steady, and your subject is not moving, you will need to use the flash. As I have read it on reviews on its predecessor Canon sx100, the recycle time on the flash is somewhat annoying. You will have to wait a good 5-6 seconds before you can ready up for another shot. This is a drag when you have people who are posing, or for a subject that is passing you by, like at an evening parade. The flash is set "on" or "off" by manually raising the flash with your finger. No automatic pop-up. Not a problem for me as I don't like using flashes anyways, especially on this camera!!!
I think the video quality out of this camera is great, far better than what I got out of older Sony Cybershot models DSCW-50 and the DSCW-55. Note that you cannot optically zoom while shooting video; it will let you zoom digitally.
The upsides for this camera are many. The 3-inch screen is amazing. It does stick out from the back of the camera, rather than being inset, so it may be prone to scratching. The programmable features are excellent. You can adjust the exposure time to 15 seconds. Playback/review is easy and fast, due to a wheel that lets you scroll through pictures quickly. Viewing it on the big screen with auto-rotation (landscape-portrait) makes it easy to check for focusing and such. Macro shooting is amazing. You can practically touch the subject with the lens and get a clear, very detailed shot!
If you want a quick convenient camera for casual shooting, don't really care about too much zoom, don't get this camera. Get something smaller and faster, and something that comes with a rechargeable lithium battery. I would stick to Nikons, Sonys and Canons. This one takes two AA's, and dealing with those has its pros and cons. I bought this camera for the big 10x zoom for the relatively small size, and the programmable options. I studied studio tests from dpreview.com (great site!) and found this was the best for my needs. The Lumix TZ5 pics looked fuzzy and the design of the Sony H3 is ugly. For other models and side-by-side comparisons, check that site out. Hope this helped you, and good luck on your decision!