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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H3 'superzoom' camera

Is it a compact? Is it a DSLR? No, it's a 'superzoom'

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At the bottom of the camera is a tripod fixing hole that's suitable for tripod screws less than 5.5mm, and a compartment for the lithium ion battery and Memory Stick Duo (Pro or standard) memory card.

In addition to a 6.3-63mm optical zoom - equivalent to 38-380mm on a 35mm camera - there’s a Carl-Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens; 1/2.5in CCD with 8.1 million effective pixels; 31MB internal memory; face-detection technology; an anti-shake system; and red-eye reduction. Shutter speed ranges from 1/4-1/2000s in auto mode and 30-1/2000s in manual mode. The ISO settings range from 100 to 3200.

Sony DSC-H3 digital camera

Autofocus modes, yes - manual focus modes, no

Although there are various autofocus modes on offer, there is no manual focus setting. There are a handful of flash modes, including auto, forced and synchro; a selection of white balance settings, such as fluorescent and incandescent; exposure control - ±2.0EV in 0.3EV steps - and 12 scene settings including twilight, landscape, beach and snow.

Accessories-wise, Sony provides a multi-connector cable, CD-Rom containing full instruction manual and photo management software, and a large lens hood. The latter is a useful add-on, although its large size obscures some of the flash.

Switch-on is fast and shutter lag performance most impressive – even with the flash switched on, the response was blisteringly quick. When it comes to general operations, we’re not quite sure why Sony likes its two-menu system so much – we think it’s a bit fussy. However, the DSC-H3’s menus are clear and simple to use, helped by colour highlights which show you exactly where you are, and short text descriptions for each setting.

Sony DSC-H3 digital camera

Nice LCD, but no optical viewfinder

Image sizes can be set from 3264 x 2448 pixels to 640 x 480. You can also shoot in 3:2 mode or 16:9 mode for displaying on an HDTV set - the connecting cable is an optional extra. There are three movie modes, with two offering 640 x 480 (VGA) resolution at 30fps and 17fps, and one that's 320 x 240 at 8fps.

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