The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is an ultra thin, 7.2-megapixel compact digital camera with a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens and Sony's Super SteadyShot anti-blur technology to help combat hand shake. The T50 also features a touch sensitive, 3.0-inch color LCD display.
Live histogram display in capture and playback modes
No aperture or shutter priority mode
Not enough manual control
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is a small, light, simple point-and-shoot digital camera with a unique on screen touchscreen menu navigation. Turning on the camera and taking pictures is very easy and the on screen touch navigation is intuitive and easy to use. In addition to still image capture the T50 can capture video with sound up to 640 x 480 at 30 frames-per-second.
I took the camera on a business trip to New York and around San Francisco while running errands. I wanted to see how it would perform while traveling as well as for spontaneous, from-the-pocket picture taking.
Sony Cybershot DSC-T50 Features
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 uses a 7.2-megapixel CCD sensor. The back of the camera has a very large 3.0-inch glare-resistant, touchscreen LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels of resolution. The LCD is very bright and visible even in direct sunlight.
The T50 features a 3x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 6.33-19.0mm lens with optical zoom and 38 - 114mm coverage (compared to a 35mm camera.) For focus, the T50 utilizes a 5 Area Multipoint auto focus system with a low light focus assist illuminator. The illuminator is very powerful and provides excellent auto focus performance in low light conditions. And Sony's Super SteadyShot anti-blur system helps compensate for camera shake so photos will be as sharp as possible.
The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 has 56-megabytes of internal memory and supports any capacity Memory Stick Duo or Memory Stick Pro Duo card up to 4GB. With a 10-megapixel sensor and average file sizes in the neighborhood of 3 megabytes, storage is important. A 1GB Memory Stick card is the minimum recommended, and a 2GB card isn't a bad idea.
The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 Movie Mode can record in VGA (640 x
480 pixels) at 30 frames-per-second (fps) when using a Memory Stick Duo Pro memory card. VGA resolution is standard, however, only 16 frames-per-second can be recorded on regular Memory Stick Duo media. You have to use the Pro version of the Memory Stick Duo cards if you want the full 30 fps. The recording time in Movie Mode is limited only by the space available on your Memory Stick media. The larger your card, the longer your movies can be. The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 even has a special 16:9 HDTV mode so that you can display your movies on a wide screen high-definition set. Without the HDTV mode, images and movies would not fill your home theatre screen.
The touchscreen display on the Sony T50 means accessing menus and changing settings is as easy as touching the desired option on the LCD. Having most of the controls and navigation on the screen keeps the camera layout very clean leaving almost the entire back of the camera for the 3.0-inch LCD display. The T50's touchscreen display helps set it apart from other pocket-sized point-and-shoot digital cameras.
Exposure control is point-and-shoot auto with exposure compensation. Exposure compensation is accessed via the T50's touchscreen controls. To assist under a variety of shooting conditions the T50 features 9 scene modes, including High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, Hi-speed Shutter, Beach, Snow, and Fireworks. Camera sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to 1000, with auto ISO selection as the default.
Sony Cybershot DSC-T50 Design
Left: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 Carl Zeis zoom lens Right: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 Controls
The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is a good-looking camera and it feels good in the hand. It's exceptionally solid and the black metal body is very stylish. The camera measures 3.75 x 2.25 x .9 inches - an easy fit for shirt or pants pockets. The 3x Carl Zeiss zoom lens is protected by a sliding front cover when it's not powered up. Sliding the cover down turns the camera on, sliding it up turns the camera off. As mentioned before, most of the back of the T50 is taken up by the large, 3.0-inch LCD display. The touchscreen controls are a key design element since they eliminate many of the standard camera control buttons. Without the touchscreen LCD, those buttons would require more space, which would likely require a smaller LCD. On the top of the camera are the shutter release, the on/off power button, Super SteadyShot button, Play/Still/Movie mode switch, and the video microphone.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 playback mode with image info and histogram displayed
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 playback main menu
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 during capture with all image info and histogram displayed
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 main menu
The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is a very slim, light camera. It felt very nice in my hand and traveled well in my coat pocket while I explored the streets of New York and San Francisco. The most unique feature of the camera is the touchscreen navigation. The display is bright and viewable in all light conditions - even direct sunlight. The menus are well organized and the touchscreen itself performed very well. Using the touch panel does require two hands since one hand has to hold the camera while the other taps the selected menu options. Many well-designed P&S digital cameras only require one hand to access most shooting controls. However, the main issue I had with the touchscreen controls is that they inevitably lead to fingerprints all over the display.
The speed of the camera is impressive. The T50 is ready to capture as soon as you slide the lens cover open. Shutter-lag is minimal and the auto focus system performed very well in all lighting conditions. I visited a property my company is interested in leasing and used the camera to document the space. There is a paint feature on the camera that allows you to paint on the images in playback mode. Originally, I thought it was pretty silly. However, it came in handy when I was taking pictures of the prospective property. I took a picture and used the paint feature to point out a detail by drawing a circle around it and writing a note on the image itself.
Left: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 touch screen menus Right: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 paint feature
Battery life is quite good. Sony claims about 400 images can be captured from a single charge. I was able to capture all the images I wanted and several movie clips, all on a single charge. One of my movie clips was even ten minutes long.
A lot of my picture taking was done at night and the T50's low light performance was very good. Even in movie mode I was able to capture subjects in low light situations successfully. The Super SteadyShot image stabilization helps keep images sharp, the auto focus performs well, and image quality is reasonable for low light with a compact digital camera.
The super-macro "Magnifying Glass" mode impressed me. It's a fixed focus macro mode that allows you to get within 0.4 inches to your subject. It's hard to get enough light on your subject when photographing this close. But if you do, the results are impressive. Since you can't zoom or focus and camera shake is magnified, a tripod is recommended for the Magnifying Glass mode.
My only real issue with the camera is the lack of exposure control. Personally, at a minimum, I would like aperture and shutter priority exposure modes. The T50 does have exposure compensation so you can control how light or dark your exposure is. However, for creative reasons, I like choosing my own shutter speed or aperture and having the exposure adjusted accordingly. I also like the ability to make really long exposures - from 1 to 15 seconds. I couldn't find a scene mode that allowed me to do that with the T50.
Overall, image quality from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is very good. The auto exposure works well and my sample photos have nice, balanced tones, natural color, and pleasing color saturation. The images are a bit over-sharpened from in-camera processing. Oversharpening makes them look good right out of the camera, but makes them harder to edit or print. You may want to turn down the sharpening in the menu, if you plan to do any post-processing or printing. For best image quality, it's a good idea to do your sharpening later, in Photoshop or another editing program.
The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 image quality is especially good at ISO 80 and 100. Image noise is minimal in shadow areas when using ISO 200 or lower. ISO 400 is tolerable but ISO 800 and 1000 are very noisy. Sony's Super SteadyShot technology helps capture blur-free images in lower light situations without having to use a higher ISO. That meant I never actually had to resort anything above ISO 400. In other words, rather than increasing the ISO, I could shoot at slower shutter speeds, because of the Super SteadyShot image stabilization.
Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.
The Cyber-shot DSC-T50 is a nice, comfortable, pocket-sized digital camera with good auto exposure metering and image quality. The Auto mode works well and the 3-inch touchscreen LCD makes the camera a joy to use. The camera performed very well in low light, aided by Sony's Super SteadyShot image stabilization. It's got a solid feel and the compact size is perfect, in my opinion. I would prefer more manual control but the T50 performs very well and I can happily recommend this camera for anyone that wants a good digital point-and-shoot.
Who Should Buy The Sony Cybershot DSC-T50
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 camera is a good camera for style-conscious people who want a small, light, simple camera for spontaneous, candid photography. If you're looking for a camera with manual control or like to use software to edit your photos, you should look at cameras with a richer feature set and less in-camera processing.
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