Sony DSC-T7 digital camera
Nice gadget, shame about the pics?
Review Sony's latest digital compact is even smaller than the last one. Following in the footsteps of the T3 and T5, the DSC-T7 promises great photographs from an ultra-thin body, but can it really achieve what it promises? asks Stuart Miles.
The camera is, without a doubt, compact. It measures just 9.2 x 6.0 x 1.5cm. Even loaded with a battery and a Memory Stick Duo card it weight in at a mere 134g.
Like the T3, the biggest single element to the camera is the screen, and considering the dimensions above, it's amazing Sony has managed to put a 2.5in, 230,000-colour screen on the back. The screen takes up most of the back of the unit and while this means that you have plenty of chance to see the photographic subject, it's not without problems.
Firstly, the drain on the battery is unbelievable. We were given a fully charged battery and within an hour of use - without really using the flash - we were already running low on juice. Secondly, there's no optical viewfinder on the T7. While we realise that more and more compacts are being made without an optical viewfinder, with such a large screen that has such a high battery drain, it would have made sense to include an option that didn't mean you had to rely on the LCD. Battery life aside, LCDs are subject to glare, and there are times when the light conditions are so bright you can't use the screen. Then, an optical viewfinder is essential.
The division between on-screen menus and shortcut buttons on the rear of the unit is well balanced, and switching from different settings, whether ISO or white balance, was very easy. For the would-be photographer, you get considerable manual control and you can even get a live histogram on screen for honing your images on the fly.
In tests, we did find the zoom slightly cumbersome, however. And the combination of such a thin design with a lens that's situated at the top left of the camera's front, meant we initially found some of our test shots had fingers in the way. This was soon corrected and to be honest probably more our fault rather than the design of the camera.
With a five-megapixel Super HAD CCD the camera packs a punch. There are five image size settings to choose from, from 2592 x 1944 down to 640 x 480. The unit comes with a 32MB card, so you can expect to get around 20 shots for your money.
The optical zoom is a standard 3x and the camera also offers a 2x digital zoom, but we really wouldn't recommend bothering with it.
We took a series of shots on a sunny day around a vineyard in Bordeaux. Getting back to the office a couple of days later we were actually rather disappointed with the camera's performance. Even the Auto mode produced flat, dulled colours and more worryingly plenty of noise, both in daylight and indoor shots. Even the shots we took with a flash seemed over-exposed and too heavy handed.
That said the camera did seem to cope well with detail and complicated patterns, such as textiles, didn't wash out in a mass of pixels.
I think the word to apply to the T7 is 'disappointment'. The slim body and large screen will appeal because the size and design certainly has that wow factor, but poor images and the short battery life mean you'll only going to be upset that you didn't capture that magic moment either because your battery had died or the photograph taken was flat. It seems that perhaps style has won over on function this time. If you're looking for compact camera that takes great photos, it's still Casio or Pentax that rule this sector.
|Pros||Large LCD; compact design.|
|Cons||No optical viewfinder; battery life; poor picture quality.|
|More info||The Sony UK site|