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
Manual Control Options
There aren’t many manual controls on the Sony T100. That is just as well. Surely they would be difficult to access with the small size of the buttons and the multitude of options crammed in the menus already. The manual controls that are included are discussed in the following sections.
The T-series upgraded its auto focus system from five points in earlier models to nine points. The lens normally focuses from 50 cm, but there is a macro mode that shortens the focal point to 8 cm. And to get really close, there is a super macro mode that focuses as close as 1 cm. This is quite impressive for a non-extending 5x optical zoom lens. The macro mode is activated with the left side of the multi-selector. Other auto focus modes are found in the recording menu: Multi, Center, and Spot. Green brackets appear where the T100 is currently focusing, and the focus locks when the shutter release is pushed halfway.
The auto focus system works quickly whether shooting still images or video. There is hardly any shutter lag when in great lighting. In low light though, the camera takes its time to focus after shooting out an orange auto focus assist beam. The beam can be turned on or off in the setup menu, and "on" could be more accurately titled "auto" because it only shoots out when needed.
The new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 adds a face detection auto focus mode, which is gaining popularity among manufacturers and consumers. Nikon was the first to introduce face priority auto focus about two years ago, but its system didn’t – and still doesn’t – work very well. Last year, other manufacturers such as Fujifilm, Canon, and Samsung introduced face recognition systems. The T100 is in Sony’s first batch of digital cameras to include face recognition. It isn’t as prominently placed as other manufacturers’ cameras. Many other cameras have a designated button to activate the face recognition, but the Sony T100’s is only found as a menu item. It can be accessed from the Program Auto, Auto, and some scene modes including Soft Snap. Sony’s face detection system can recognize up to 8 faces at a time, compared with Canon’s system that can detect 9 faces, and Fujifilm’s that detects 10 faces. Sony’s face detection is just as fast as these competitors, and it’s much faster than Nikon’s substandard version. The Sony T100 can track faces quite well even when it’s turned to the side a bit. The LCD displays boxes around the faces. The boxes change size as the subjects move around the frame. Once the camera recognizes the faces, it takes a meter reading from them and adjusts the exposure accordingly.
All in all, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100’s auto focus system works well and quickly whether it is using face detection or not.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 does not have a traditional manual focus mode, but has manual presets that focus 1, 3, and 7 meters away from the lens.
These worked okay, but the auto focus works a lot better and is more reliable unless users carry a measuring stick with them at all times. There is also an infinity focus preset mode that is helpful for shooting landscapes. The "manual" presets can be found only in the Program Auto’s recording menu.
There is a host of ISO sensitivity options in the recording menu. There are manual ISO settings from 80-400 along with a fully automatic ISO option in the auto mode. In the program mode, the ISO settings extend from 80-3200. There isn’t a live view when scrolling through these options. The T100 has a High Sensitivity scene mode that doesn’t use a preset ISO setting but instead utilizes a fairly full range. After shooting around, it looks like the highest it dares go is ISO 1600 but brighter scenery rendered lower sensitivity. That is just fine: the higher end of the ISO range was speckled with noise. To see exactly how much noise was in the image, go to the Testing/Performance section of this review.
**White Balance ***(8.5)*
There is a live view to preview white balance settings before choosing one. The following settings are available: Automatic, Cloudy, Daylight, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, and Flash. Unfortunately, there is no custom white balance setting which is important even for point-and-shooters. It is an all-purpose mode that allows users to tell the camera what color white is underneath different lighting – something the presets don’t do. The white balance settings can be manually adjusted in still image as well as movie modes. To see how accurate the presets are and how well the automatic setting works, check out the Testing/Performance section of this review.
Manual exposure settings cannot be adjusted, but the shutter speed and aperture automatically change when the exposure compensation is tweaked. This can be done in the recording menu with a live view that allows users to gauge just how bright or dark to make an image. The T100 has the typical +/- 2 exposure compensation range in steps of 1/3 that is available on almost all digital cameras, along with a live histogram for monitoring the exposure. The T100 has a few things that aren’t quite as typical; an exposure bracketing function available in the program auto’s recording menu, and exposure compensation available in the movie mode.
Multi, center, and spot metering modes are in the recording menu with a live view and explanations for each option. These are typical of digital cameras, but the T100’s metering control in the movie mode is unique. Users can choose from multi and center options so backlit subjects aren’t rendered as silhouettes.
The T100 isn’t meant for long exposures. Its shutter speed ranges from ¼-1/1000th of a second in the auto mode and 1-1/1000th of a second in program auto. The shutter speeds are automatically chosen by the camera, but the chosen speeds can be somewhat adjusted using exposure compensation and even exposure mode. For instance, there is a High Speed Shutter scene mode that goes only as slow as 1/250th of a second. It is meant for use outdoors in bright light.
The aperture can’t be manually adjusted. It ranges from f/3.5-5.6 when zoomed out and f/4.4-10 when zoomed in, falling short of the f/2.8 aperture that comes on most other digital cameras.
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