It's hard to criticize a camera that retails for less than $130. You simply can't expect greatness at that price point, and while a low-priced model will likely excel at something, it's inevitably because other things were sacrificed. Such is the case with Sony's 7-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-S750, which ponies up a stylish, ultracompact body and easy operation at the expense of good picture quality and speedy performance.
Measuring 3.6 inches wide by 2.2 inches high by 1.1 inches deep and weighing 5 ounces, the S750 fits easily in a pocket or small bag. Dressed in silver, the body is a combination of metal and plastic: it's strong enough to resist damage from banging around in a bag, making it a nice choice for keeping handy for surprise photo opportunities. The only flaw is that the door on the bottom concealing the rechargeable battery and Memory Stick Pro Duo slot slides open a little too easily--even during use. That, and it's very easy to put the battery in incorrectly since it's not keyed for a particular direction.
Instead of the Carl Zeiss lenses found on many of Sony's point-and-shoot cameras, the S750 uses a Sony 3x f2.8-4.8 35-105mm-equivalent lens. Other than the power and shutter buttons on top, all controls are on back next to the 2.5-inch LCD. The inset mode dial is small, but moves well and stays put when pulling the camera in and out of pockets. All the buttons are tiny, too, and occasionally require repeated presses to get your point across.
Navigating the menu system is extremely simple, partially because there just aren't a lot of options on the camera. It has the requisite scene modes, subpar video capture (320x240 without zoom for up to 10 minutes), and a Program Auto mode that lets you adjust exposure values, metering, focus, ISO, and white balance. A nice bonus for this camera is the face detection, which worked quickly and accurately. One oddity, though, is the ability to pull up a histogram on the screen. I'm not so sure the targeted user for the S750 would find it as helpful as composition guidelines, which are not available.
The S750 is not a fast camera, but the performance is decent given its budget status. Time to first shot is 2.2 seconds. Shutter lag averages at 0.7 second for CNET Labs' high-contrast test and 1 second on our low-contrast test, which mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively. Without the flash, the shot-to-shot time is 2 seconds; adding the flash nudges the wait time up to 2.6 seconds between shots. The burst mode on the S750 is limited to three shots, but drops the shot time to a relatively fast 1.5 frames per second.