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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7
There has been a growing demand for superzoom digicams in recent months. Sony probably had this in mind when it recently introduced the DSC-H7. We decided to give it the works as usual. The overall build of the camera is quite simplistic, with a basic clutch of buttons. The screen doesn't pop out to tilt or swivel in any direction, which is surprising and rather sad for a camera of this caliber.
But before I mention the good parts I would like to point out what I didn't like about the camera – its lack of scene modes. For a casual user who needs to warm up before getting his hands dirty with the manual mode the camera has to offer, scene modes can be a lifesaver. Sure, there are the basics like portrait, sport, landscape, etc. but I would have liked a lot more options.
That out of the way, the camera's other features are top-notch. The 8.1 megapixel image sensor is accompanied by a whopping 15x optical zoom (31-465mm), and an excellent image stabilization system that works well even at full zoom.
The feature that, for me, sets the H7 apart from the other cameras in its class is its wireless remote control. This feature may be common in camcorders, but its applicability in consumer digital cameras is long overdue. The remote not only allows you to play back images and video after you connect the camera to the TV, but also has a shutter release button, so you can click pictures from a distance.
The H7 also boasts of HDTV output (1080i), but since there were only composite cables provided with the camera, I'm guessing you need to pick up component cables separately to support that output resolution.
So, do all these specs really make a good camera? That's where our tests come in.
It's happened before. Cameras that seem excellent on paper have ended up as lemons in actual performance. Unfortunately the H7 is pretty much in that category.
The image quality doesn't quite live up to the expectations that the camera raises. Firstly the images suffer from distorted edges, which adds a slight pincushion effect in wide-angle images. Besides that the detail levels produced by the camera is not at par with what you'd expect from a considerably higher-priced superzoom.
Colors were handled well in perfectly lit areas, as in the flower macro shots below. The colors and gradients were perfectly reproduced.
But once I moved to the shadows, things got very different. The gradients and the colors took on rather a pasty look in full view, especially with regard to skin tones. The camera also had a bit of trouble handling greens.
Night shots weren't too impressive either. As you can see from the photo below, the scene I shot (keeping the camera on a steady surface) shows well-lit areas as a bit blurred. That and the color distortion created by the higher ISO setting are quite obvious.
In burst mode the camera shot pictures at intervals of 0.6 seconds (without flash). It took a little over two seconds for the camera to start and the same time to shut down. The battery life was pretty good though. I got close to 100 shots (some with flash, some without) before the battery showed any signs of dying.
The Cyber-shot DSC-H7 is available in the US for around $350 (Rs 14,000 approx), which would have made it a decent buy. But since it's retailing here for Rs 22,500, the expectations are a lot higher. Sadly, the H7 doesn't fare too well in overall performance when compared with other cameras in its category.
Excellent features such as 15x optical zoom and the remote control don't do much to make up for its other flaws. So if you're considering a superzoom, there are other cameras available that offer comparable features at VFM prices. The DSC-H7 is therefore hard to recommend.
|Dimensions||110 x 83 x 86 mm|
|Storage||Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo + Internal|
Lithium-Ion NP-BG1 rechargeable
|LCD Type||2.5", 115,000 pixels|
|Effective Pixels||8.1 Megapixel|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200|
|Shutter Speed||30-1/4000 sec|
|Aperture||F2.7 - F4.5|
|Scene Modes||Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Landscape, Sports mode, Portrait mode, Twilight mode, High sensitivity, Twilight portrait|
Flash, Cloudy, Daylight, Fluorescent, Incandescent
|Flash||Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync|
|Self Timer||10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640 x 480 @ 30fps|
|Street Price||Rs 22,500|