on May 30, 2012
I purchased this product as I planned a last-minute visit to the Niagara Falls and, being on a business trip, I had nothing else to immortalize this moment than my smartphone and its lousy camera. After unpacking it, I first tried it indoors and was not impressed at all: mediocre yellowish pictures, noisy and grainy. I tried to disable the (weak) flash and it got worse. I was tempted to return it immediately but decided to give it a try outdoors. When I started to shoot the falls, I became very quickly addicted to this litte gizmo. In most of the cases, the camera is able to deal with the subject, although I would recommend the usage of the advanced scene mode: facing violent contrasts, the camera shoots automatically twice with different exposure parameters, which increases the odds to get a good shot. Smart.
The exposure can be easily fixed manually, using the "manual" mode (in fact, an automatic mode that can be adjusted). In a matter of seconds, over-exposed white water on dark rocks takes texture, to the droplet. It is a bit of trial and error, but delivers quick results. The panorama function works very well, delivery much better pictures than the lousy prints available in the souvenir shop. I also gave it a chance to show how it works with video: better than average sound (if not too much wind), functional and silent zoom and again, surprising image quality. As the light changed due to overcast clouds, I adjusted the settings and the camera obediently followed, again delivering satisfying stills. The zoom works fine. It's not a super-zoom but the resolution is good enough to enable enlargement on the PC.
Happy with the outdoor quality, I decided to give it another try indoors, using the advanced mode P. To my surprise, the various settings, including several white balance modes, enabled to fix the initial issues and I got noise-free, decent-quality pictures under artificial lighting. I fumbled a bit with the flash and while I find it a bit rough, it's within expectations.
Outdoor picture quality is really great for the price - I was really positively surprised by the sharpness and color quality, which is still far from SLR standards but surprising for a compact. The autofocus is decent, shutter speed good, transfer speed correct. The camera behaves predictably. It is more limited indoors but still very decent once one gets used to it. I was not disturbed by the lack of functionality to adjust speed or aperture as I'm using it for point-and-shoot, which it does pretty well in general. It's not a function-rich camera, but what's built in is useful and working well (the online manual may need some polishing though).
I'm giving it five stars because this Sony camera exceeds consistently my value-for-money expectations. It cannot be a substitute for more serious hardware (I own a Sony Alpha and my wife is a NEX user) but it is definitively the camera I will take on business trips or in my breast pocket for a casual walk in the park.
on May 16, 2013
I purchased two of these cameras, one for my fiancee and one for myself. We both wanted something that we can always take with us. This camera fits in a men's dress shirt pocket and is completely concealed. We have used these cameras for the past six months and they have produced amazing pictures. We are both extremely happy with these little photographic wonders.
I own three cameras ... this one...an Olympus XZ-1 ... and a Nikon D7000 DSLR, and I use all three ...mostly the DSLR whenever I can.
This camera gets 5 stars for the following reasons and considering that it is a pocket camera (not a DSLR ;-) - digital single lens reflex camera):
1) The size of the camera is only 3.8 inches x 2.2 inches with a 3" back review LCD screen (230k dots resolution, awesome for this little wonder) and less than an inch thin (0.8") with control elements that even a grown man can reasonably operate. So very compact but well designed elements.
2) The camera has 16.1 MP and has outstanding Carl Zeiss optics (5x optical zoom).
Carl Zeiss optics are flawless in quality, and without the optics nothing else matters. That this camera has such a high quality lens is a great sign of what's behind the lens. The lens is image stabilized.
Lens Type : Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar®
Optical Zoom : 5x
Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : Still 16:9: 28-140mm / Still 4:3: 25-125mm / Movie 16:9: 29-145mm(SteadyShot Standard), 30-150mm(SteadyShot Active) / Movie 4:3: 35-175mm(SteadyShot Standard), f=37-185mm(SteadyShot Active)
Lens Construction : 6 elements in 5 groups (including 3 aspheric elements)
Minimum Focus Distance : iAuto:AF(W:Approx..5cm(0.16') to Infinity, T:Approx.100cm(3.28') to Infinity) / Program Auto:AF(W:Approx..5cm(0.16') to Infinity, T:Approx.100cm(3.28') to Infinity)
Aspheric Elements : 3
Steady Shot Mode:Active : Yes
Regarding the 16.1 MP image sensor. I shoot this sony with 10MP resolution because I don't like to deal with huge files and it makes little difference to my perceived quality of this image from this camera. However the results from this camera are truly outstanding. You can produce a good looking 20" X 30" poster from this 10MP image, so with 16.1 MP full resolution you will get all you ever need for casual photography ( for what this camera is really meant for). The resolution is adjustable with the easy to use menu screen: 16.1 MP, 10MP, 5MP (straight uploadable resolution to Facebook), VGA resolution (640x480 pixels for direct computer screen for a blog for example) all in 4:3 aspect ratio. You can also choose wide screen shooting modes (aspect ratio 16:9) in these resolutions: 12 MP and 2 MP.
So really plenty of options to adjust to your needs/preferences.
3) The camera can be operated in different camera modes including P (for most manual control):
Intelligent Auto (works great), Program Auto (most control for the user), Picture Effect (for the instant artist ;-), 4 modes ), and scene mode (11 scene modes wow).
a) Intelligent Auto: This is my main mode to use this camera for plain fun snap shots without having to think. This camera is great in focusing, choosing modes and getting the best picture for you most of the time and instantly. In iAuto you get to further select EASY mode (simplified menu and larger font for the true point and shooter who just rather not deal with anything except take a great picture), image resolution, single shooting or continous shooting (1 fps up to 100 shots), EV (exposure correction -2.0 to +2.0) basically to adjust image brightness, iScene auto and advanced,smile detection sensitivity (three settings),Face detection (off,auto,child priority,adult priority,in camera guide,operation settings menu (time,date,sounds).
b) Program Auto: this gives you more choices for those more familiar with photography. It is actually quite amazing to me how many cool features have been carried from advanced photography into this one-click-wonder. same controls as in a) above but in addition these... ISO settings: Auto, 80,100,200,400,800,1600,3200; White Balance: Auto,Daylight,Cloudy,Fluorescent 1,2,3, Incandescent,Flash,One Push and One Push Set (for custom white balance, cool!); Auto Focus: Multi AF,Center AF,Spot AF; Metering Mode: Multi,Center,Spot; DRO (recovering of tones in image): Off,standard,plus;
c) Picture effect: I haven't used these...you can do it with photoshop etc, but why bother with complex software as a poin and shooter with these fun features?! ...and instant gratification with Toy Camera: shoot images with the effect of a toy camera ... i guess it sounds like a toy camera (the shutter release haha) ... Pop effect: shoot images in pop and colorful colors ... Partial color: shoots dramatic images coloring only the extracted colors (extract red, green, blue, yellow)...like a red rose in a black and white pic ...sweet...Soft High key Effect: shootswarm fresh photos emphasizing the bright areas.
4) It takes amazing video (i didn't buy it for video, but it does do a great job) but hey I take it and it is a bonus to me.
Video Format : MP4(AVC/H.264)
Video Mode : 1280x720(Fine)(1,280x720/30fps)/1280x720(Standard)(1,280x720/30fps)/VGA(640x480/30fps)
Audio Format : AAC
Microphone/Speaker : Mono/mono
That sums up my reasons why I consider this a great 5 star camera and a fantastic buy for ANYONE.
This is a complete one-click-wonder and may become even a serious photographers little angel in the pocket (it is for me for sure) ... because the best camera is the one you have with you ... and if it has to fit in a pocket, this definitely the best!