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Sony Cyber-shot H5 Review

July 2006 | By Simon Joinson

Review based on a production Sony DSC-H5

The Cyber-shot DSC-H1 was Sony's first foray into the increasingly crowded compact, image stabilized 'super zoom' market, and it was a very successful one too. The DSC-H5 (along with little brother the DSC-H2) arrived almost exactly a year later in February 2006. The H5 is notable as the first 'big zoom' compact camera to feature a 7 megapixel sensor (a new Sony 1/2.5" CCD), and for its huge 3.0" screen. Otherwise the specification is pretty much the same as the H2, itself a fairly subtle update to the original H1 - no bad thing given the very high standards set by that model. Let's start with the headline features:

  • 7.2 million effective pixels
  • 36-432mm equivalent (12x optical) F2.8-3.7 Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom lens
  • Super Steady Shot optical image stabilization
  • Wide ISO 80-1000 range
  • Clear RAW™ noise reduction technology
  • 3.0” LCD (230,000 pixels) & 0.2" (200,000 pixel) Electronic viewfinder
  • Full photographic control
  • Real Imaging Processor & 14-bit DXP A/D Conversion
  • Optional wide and tele lens converters
  • Scene selection (7 modes)
  • Histogram indication
  • 32MB internal memory, plus a Memory Stick/PRO Duo slot

Note that the majority of the descriptive text in this review is taken directly from the DSC-H2 review, as the cameras are functionally identical.

Cyber-shot DSC-H5 vs DSC-H2

The H2 and H5 are essentially the same camera with a few important differences:

  • Higher resolution sensor (7MP versus 6MP)
  • Larger LCD screen (3.0 vs 2.0 inch)
  • Higher resolution screen (230k vs 85k pixels)
  • Black body option (H2 is silver only)
  • Slightly heavier than H2

As shown above the H5 (left) and H2 (center) are physically identical (save for the body color) from the front - the only difference on the back is the screen size. Shown for comparison is the original H1 (right).

Color Options

Unlike the H2 (and H1 before it), the H5 is manufactured in two colors. The silver version is - at the moment anyway - only available if you buy directly from Sony via its Sony Style online store.

DSC H-5 key specifications

Street price • US: $470
• UK: £310
Body Material Metal and plastic

• 1/2.5 " Type CCD
• 7.2 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3072 x 2304
• 3072 x 2048 (3:2)
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 1632 x 1224
• 640 x 480

Movie clips

• 640 x 480 @ 16 / 30fps (30fps requires MS Pro Duo)
• 160 x 112 @ 8fps

File formats • Still: JPEG
• Movie: MPEG VX

• 36-432mm equiv
• 12x optical zoom
• Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
• F2.8-3.7

Image stabilization Super SteadyShot® (moving lens element type)
Conversion lenses Yes
Digital zoom • 2x (24x total)
• Up to 57x Smart Zoom (dependent on selected resolution)
Focus • Manual (with focus aids and magnification)
• Single
• Monitor
• Continuous
AF area modes • 3 Area Multi-Point AF
• Center AF (selectable)
• Flexible spot AF
• Contrast detect
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: 50cm (19.7 in) min
• Macro: 2cm (0.74 in)
Metering • Multi-pattern (49 zone)
• Center weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1000
Exposure compensation • +/-2EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing +/- 0.3, 0.7, 1.0 EV
Shuttter speed

• 1/4 - 1/2000 sec. (Auto)
• 1 - 1/2000 sec. (Program Auto)
• 46-step 30 sec – 1/1000 sec. (Shutter Priority, Manual)
* Shutter speeds of 1/2000th are only available at apertures of F5.6 and higher.

Aperture F2.8 - 8.0 (wide), F3.7 - 8.0 (tele)

• Program
• Aperture priority
• Shutter priority
• Manual
• 7-preset select scene modes

Scene modes • Twilight
• Twilight Portrait
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Beach
• High-speed shutter
• High sensitivity
White balance

• Auto
• Manual
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Fluorescent
• Incandescent
• Flash WB

Self timer • 10 or 2 secs
Continuous shooting • 7 Shots at 1.1fps (7.2MP JPEG fine)
• 100 Shots at 1.4 fps (640x480 JPEG std)
Image parameters • Saturation (3 levels)
Contrast (3 levels)
• Sharpness (3 levels)
• Color effects (Sepia, Black and White, Vivid)
Flash • Pop-up
• Auto, On, Off, Slow synch, Red-eye reduction
• Range (ISO Auto): 1’ to 29’ 3" (0.3-9.0m) (Wide)
• Range (ISO Auto): 35.5 ’ to 22 ’ 4 " (0.9-6.8m) (Tele)
• Range (ISO 1000): 2’ 11" to 52’ (0.9 -16m) (Wide)
Viewfinder • 0.2" EVF
• 201K pixels
LCD monitor • 3.0-inch TFT
• 230K pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0 high speed
• AV out
Print compliance PictBridge, DPOF, PIM III
Storage • Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo compatible
• 32MB internal memory
Power • 2x NiMH batteries
• Ac adaptor (optional)
In the box* DSC-H5 camera
NH-AA-DB Rechargeable AA Batteries,
BC-CS2 Battery Charger and Cord
A/V and USB Cables
Shoulder Strap
Lens Cap
Lens Cap Strap
Lens Adapter Ring
Lens Hood
Software CD-ROM
Other features • Real Imaging Processor
• Clear RAW NR
• Filter Diameter: 58mm (with supplied Adapter Ring)
Optional Flash units, converter lenses, filters
Weight (inc batt) 554 g (1 lb 4.3 oz)
Dimensions 113.2 x 83 x 94 mm (4.6 x 3.3 x 3.7 in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2006 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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