Some people want a camera that’s small enough to fit in a pocket, but they also want the features of a SLR. In other words, they want the impossible. Or do they? Enter the 'superzoom', which in the days of film would have been described as a 'bridge camera'. Sony DSC-H3 digital camera Sony's DSC-H3: bigger than a compact, but …
Nice camera - but wider zoom would be useful
I'm puzzled why this, like some other 'super zoom' cameras, extend the 3:1 (35-105mm) zoom range of basic compacts at the "long end" only e.g. 35-380mm. (The Panasonic FZ50 is another such example 35-420mm).
Possibly designing a short focus zoom lens is harder than an long focus one, but an effective zoom range of 28-280 or 25-250 mm would seem much more useful.
For the odd shot where one wants something just a bit longer than ~250mm one can always zoom the image by a 20-25% (and make use of those millions of pixels) without loosing too much resolution. But there is no 'post processing' way to get the part of the frame not included in a 35mm shot.
This may be nit-picky for some users, but 0.5 frames/second for continuous mode is a bit disappointing. I have Canon and Kodak compacts, both over 2 years old, that can manage nearly 3 fps, and the Canon can fill the card at that speed! Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln...
Not a lot to see here...
There's very little new here - almost all of these features have existed on other cameras of the Ultrazoom type for years. I have an Olympus C770-UZ, and though it's only 4.3MP, it does just about everything that this camera does - and I've had it for well over three years.
Personally, I wouldn't pay the "Sony Premium" for something that can be done just as well elsewhere.
@ John Miles
I believe there are optical considerations for getting non-distorted wide-angle images, but more than anything I'm sure it's 90% sales pitch. Longer maximum zooms, more megapixels and higher ISO ratings are what sell cameras, not image quality or anything else that matters when you actually use them for real.
You can't hold a LCD screen only camera steady.
If you need reading glasses a LCD screen is useless on a Camera.
Wider angle IS more expensive / harder than more Tele on a Zoom lens.
lack of manual / Fixed focus is a problem.
I'd like to do stop motion animation occasionally. You need manual white balance, manual focus and exposure lock. Otherwise when you move anything the colour balance/ brightness/contrast/focus jumps from frame to frame. On SD TV video camera I also only seem ever to find 2 out of 3 settings can be manual.
"Personally, I wouldn't pay the "Sony Premium" for something that can be done just as well elsewhere."
Seems more like a super-marketing-zoom than a useful camera for that price.
I have a Panasonic superzoom camera I bought a couple of years ago, and it has a LCD viewfinder along with a LCD screen. I use the viewfinder quite often outdoors when the sunlight makes the main LCD screen hard to see. The lack of an optical or LCD viewfinder is a non starter for me.
"The lack of an optical or LCD viewfinder is a non starter for me."
Agree entirely. The Panasonic TZ3, which would otherwise be on my shortlist, is a desirable competitor in all respects, with a wonderful 28-280mm zoom, but no viewfinder, no sale. Sorry.
apart from adding more megapixels, there doesnt seem to be anything on offer that wasnt on offer 8 or so years ago on the DSC-F505V or the 707. Yes I know it's more compact but nothing much else is there.
Usually I go for the Olympus equivalents to this, my SP-560 has an 18X wide angle zoom (27-486MM equiv) - and with a $30 adapter supports a couple of telephoto lenses.
Because they've just released a new version it's about the same price as this one too.
Still the Sony seems a decent buy, $300 is pretty good and their image stabilisation is a touch better than Olympus. You can't use a tripod every time you want to grab a quick photo, so it is a decent feature.
Re: Viewfinder again
Yep, I've got a TZ3. Nice, but the lack of viewfinder is indeed annoying and makes shooting steadily harder, so think well before getting a camera without one. And it's also very noisy at ISO 400 equiv. already. If I have to shoot in darker conditions with it, I underexpose at "ISO 100" and do layer additions later. I only bought it to have a camera I can take with me everyday in my backpack without much concern, and for that it is quite good and cheap -- no carrying my K10D around all the time for sure. It even fits in the jeans back pocket (hard to sit down, though...).
Remember the FD-91?
Now that was a cool camera... http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FD91/FD91A.HTM
Nice optical zoom (14x!), nothing of that digital zoom stuff.
Still using it sometimes, to just see 'what's going on over there'. Always makes me smile, the ka-chunk of the floppy drive :-)
So in a way, Sony comes full circle, it seems...
Missing 2 important teatures
I got myself an Olympus C-300 (aka D-500) from Cash Converters (£30 well spent), and there were only 3 problems with it. Apart from it being a bit too small to hold comfortably and steadily in my ham fists (a problem which this Sony seems to address) the two great lacks were a manual focussing ring and a shoe for a flash. Without these essentials it just doesn't cut it as a tool for taking photographs, rather than snapshots.
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