Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 Digital Camera Review
Read a review of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 point-and-shoot digital camera on DigitalCameraInfo.com
The Sony T100 doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. It instead uses the 3-inch Clear Photo LCD screen. The preview is enormous, but it’s a little jumpy – like it’s not quite a 30 fps feed. The refresh rate looks a little better when the exposure is locked right before snapping a picture, but it still doesn’t look as smooth as most other digital cameras.
The display information shown on the LCD can be changed by pushing the top of the multi-selector. File information can be viewed or hidden, a histogram can be added, and the LCD screen can be lightened or darkened for better viewing in broad daylight or for saving power. Learn more about the LCD screen’s capabilities in the next section.
The 3-inch Clear Photo LCD Plus screen takes up almost the entire back of the camera. There is less than a half inch of space on the right side where the control buttons are crammed. The screen looks great with its 230,000 pixels. The T100’s screen is the same one found on the SLR-like H9, except the H9’s screen is hinged on a monitor so it can fold out. The large screen dwarfs the T100 and can be viewed from almost any angle, whether you look at it from the sides, the top, or bottom. There is a brightening mode accessible with the display button, but no multi-level brightness adjustment in the setup menu like on most digital cameras. This didn’t seem to be a problem though: the screen can also be viewed outdoors just fine because of its great contrast. The only problem with the T100’s LCD screen is its tendency to build up grease, which reflects light and exaggerates smudges. Still, the final verdict on the LCD screen is good because of its high resolution and big size.
In most modes, the flash options can be chosen from the right side of the multi-selector: auto, on, off, and slow sync. Red-eye reduction can be turned on and off in the recording menu. The red-eye reduction mode sends out a series of flashes before the final one and leaves subjects blinded for a few minutes before the flash fires.
Sony’s specs claim the miniscule flash can fire effectively from 4 inches to 12 feet when the lens is zoomed out and 2.5 feet to 9.5 feet when zoomed in. When shooting close-ups, the Sony T100’s flash looks very spotty. Even at a few feet away, the flash is brighter in some areas than others and the corners of the frame are completely dark.
In the Program Auto recording menu, there is a flash level option that allows users to select from +, Normal, and – settings. There is a big difference between the Normal and + options but it’s hard to tell the difference between the Normal and – options. Having some control over the flash’s output is somewhat helpful.
Sony flaunts the T100’s ability to take great pictures without the flash because it has optical image stabilization and high ISO sensitivity. Sony may tout these features because the tiny flash on the camera doesn’t perform well. The built-in flash is located to the left of the lens and it unevenly lights images. It is also more of a glow than a flash.
When shooting subjects in very dark lighting, the flash illuminates the nearest subjects and all else melts into blackness. The Twilight Portrait scene mode uses a longer shutter speed and the slow sync flash to light up the background, but this looks shaky unless there’s a tripod involved.
Overall, the T100’s flash isn’t very impressive and is best avoided unless absolutely necessary.
**Zoom Lens ***(8.0)*
Like other Cyber-shot digital cameras, the T100 has Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar branded glass. The 5x optical zoom lens is longer than the average ultra-slim model’s lens but doesn’t protrude at all from the camera body. It is constructed from 12 elements in 10 groups with 3 aspherical elements. Measuring 5.8-29mm (35mm equivalent 35-175mm), the telephoto end of the zoom range is aided by Sony’s Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization. This system reduces and sometimes eliminates blur in still images and keeps videos much smoother. The image stabilization feature can be turned on and off in the recording menu, but it should be kept on unless you’re really in a bind for battery power. There are two options for activation: shooting and continuous. The shooting stabilization mode only activates when the shutter release button is pushed halfway down, so although the live preview may look a little jumpy the picture itself won’t be blurred. Setting the stabilization to run just before shooting saves on battery power.
The lens moves throughout its 5x range with a control located on the upper right corner of the back. This rocker-type control is very sensitive, stopping at about 29 focal lengths. The lens doesn’t zoom quickly; it takes its time getting from one end to the other. The upside to this is that subjects are always sharp because the focus doesn’t have to "catch up" with a fast zoom. When users are zooming around with the control, a horizontal bar appears across the top of the LCD screen showing the approximate whereabouts of the current focal length and a numerical value such as "1.8x."
The 5x optical zoom lens is almost perfect except for its placement; it is located in the upper right corner of the front, just where the left fingers wrap around the camera.
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