The DSC-H3 has some nice features, such as a burst mode - aka continuous shooting - which lets you fire off up to 100 images at two-second intervals, provided the battery and memory card can stand the pace. Auto-bracketing lets you take the same shot in three different exposure values, which is handy for tricky lighting conditions. The face-detection system does a good job of locking onto subjects.
There are also some nice post-shooting features, such as the ability to add a spot colour effect to the image, so that an object can be in colour while the surrounding areas are in black and white. Soft Focus keeps the subject sharp while everything else is blurred and there’s also a starburst effect. You wouldn’t want to use these effects every day, but they are nice to have.
Switch-on is fast and shutter lag performance most impressive
Likewise, images can be cropped or have red-eye removed, and the supplied Picture Motion Browser software can be used for editing and burning images on a PC. However, the software is only available for Windows - a bizarre message in Sony’s instruction book describes ways of “Enjoying your Windows PC”.
So how did the DSC-H3 perform? In two words: most impressively. Let’s start with its premier feature – the extra-long zoom. Anyone who’s struggled to get close to the action with a 3x zoom on their compact will really appreciate the 10x zoom. The anti-shake system does a good job in helping to keep things steady at the longer end of the zoom too.
Images were sharp, clear and crisp, and colour reproduction was good. Naturally, things get a little nosier at the higher ISO settings (1600 and above), but for most shooting situations, the DSC-H3 will deliver very good picture quality. Burst shooting worked well and the camera locked on to the subject (in this case, a fast-moving cyclist). Macro performance (which works from 2cm) was also a winner.
There’s always the danger that a camera like DSC-H3 will end up as one of those products that tries to please everyone, but does the exact opposite. Not in this case. Users wanting more than standard compact camera will like the extra functionality, while those more used to using digital SLRs will still find plenty of things to keep them happy. There’s definitely a market for the superzoom, so if you want to upgrade to a better specified camera without sacrificing too much in terms of portability, or don’t fancy lugging around a digital SLR and lens kit, but want more than a bog-standard compact, then seriously consider the DSC-H3.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H3 'superzoom' camera
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.
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...
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...).
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.
"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.