Pros + Body is well built and feels very sturdy
+ Camera feels very well balanced
+ Auto setting is excellent
+ On-camera help facility is fantastic
+ Zoom is incredible - 30 times optically
+ Panarama setting is wonderful
Cons - Camera does not come with a memory card
- No useful user guide
Summary I absolutely love this camera! I have only had it for 4 days, and have spent hours taking photos with it already.
For background information, I am comparing this camera to my well-loved point-and-shoot Canon Ixus 90 IS. I have never owned a compact bridge or DSL camera before.
Here are my first impressions:
The body is well built and feels very sturdy. It weighs in at 613g including the strap, battery and memory card. When I add the weight of my case (bought separately) the weight goes up to 850g - this is heavy compared to my other camera, and I don't think I'll be taking it out and about for holiday snaps. For specific photo-trips though, the weight is OK.
Despite the weight, the camera feels very well balanced and so far I have not had any finger or wrist strain whilst taking photos.
The camera does not come with a memory card, but it does have some internal storage - sufficient for around 20 photos I think.
Even though it is an 18.2MP camera, the individual photos do not seem to take up too much storage space - around 3 to 4 MB per photo (about the same as my 10MP point-and-shoot camera).
I'm absolutely delighted with the photo quality produced. The auto setting is excellent, and the many extra settings allow for lots of creativity. I particulary like the blurred background setting - my portrait photos of my family have come out looking very professional.
The on-camera help facility is fantastic - if you press help it will display information that is relevant to wherever you are in the settings. I have learnt a lot aready about photography, although I do still have some way to go! You can even adjust the strength of the flash...I haven't tried this yet.
There is no paper manual or disc supplied with the camera - but you really don't need either. The camera plugged into my Vista PC and worked straight away, and as I have already said, the on-camera help is perfect with help providied where and when you need it.
The zoom is incredible - 30 times optically, and then another 30 times digitally. It seems to have some clever software on board to improve the digital image as it zooms in.
In addition to the LCD display there is also a view finder. This is extrememly handy in bright conditions. When you put your eye to the viewfinder, the screen goes off to prevent glare. I don't think the view finder is optical, as it seems to be a copy of what is being displayed on the screen. This is useful when looking something up in the help facility, as help is also shown through the LCD. Suits me fine, but I'm not sure whether top photographers would like it.
The panorama setting is wonderful - it works like you are taking a video, but then puts it into one image. No more stitching photos together on the pc!
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In conclusion, I heartily recommend this camera to anyone moving up a step from a basic point-and-shoot camera.
Pros Tremendous zoom length. Very nice weight. Feel is darn near perfect. Video as good as any available. Tons of features beyond what I'll ever need yet easy to operate.
Cons No hot shoe, no external mic, unable to zoom in or out in video.
Summary This a fantastic super zoom camera. If feels perfectly balanced in my hand. Not huge, nor too small to fit in the hand very nicely. The zoom feature is just outstanding. I've yet to need all the zoom length of this camera.
Photo quality is probably 7/10. Not as good as a $5,000 outfit, but, not expected to be. But could be a little sharper IMO. Of course this camera is not meant to compete with most DSLRs, and certainly not agains the mega dollar DSLR rigs. However, for a P&S camera, it's unbeatable IMO.
Of all the features it has, one would be challenged to use even half of them, however, it is quite easy to use in "P" mode, even in "apature" and "shutter" priority modes, it's simple enough if you know just the basics of photography.
If you want a P&S camera, I'd highly recommend this over the Canon equivalent. It's only competition IMO is the Panasonic FZ200, however the Panasonic is ~$150 higher than the Sony.
There are a few very good features on the Panasonic FZ200 that I wish were on the Sony, however, I can live without this as this is a hobby camera, not a professional DSLR.
Pros Awesome zoom, lots of features. HD video recording is very very good.
Cons Sometimes is a little bit slow to take the shot. The interface between features might be slow and lacks of a remote control like its predecessors.
Summary Worth the money, very good camera. Easy to operate.
Pros Zoom, Image quality, Manual everything, effect can be fun, stunning video, great screen, fast performance, many more
Cons Battery life could be better, The sensor that switches to the view finder is too sensitive and should have an off option, Switching between scenes is slow if you don't push okay every time. Very annoying
Summary An amazing camera, with some minor complaints, full control of everything, except, you can not adjust the EV in Manual mode, which is annoying, I love it and highly recommend it, but Sony needs to step up their game.