Top of camera controls

Top of camera controls (click for larger image)On top of the camera we have the main command switch (Play / Still / Movie), power button and zoom control. The power button is one of the slide for on, slide for off type.

I'm glad to report that the zoom controller even though not ideal does work well and the speed of zooming is proportional to the amount of movement of the controller.

My only gripe is with the shutter release button which I found to be a little too hard to press, this has the side effect of causing a little camera shake just when you don't need it. This may just be because this was a brand new camera, however it IS a little stiffer than others.

Rear of camera controls

On the back we have several sets of controls, top to bottom: Flash button allows you to toggle the flash between Auto, Forced on (fill-in) and Forced Off it also doubles as the flash charge indicator (flashing during charge, solid when charged).

Program AE button switches between the various exposure modes: Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Shutter Priority, Night shot 1, Night Shot 2 (slower exposures), Landscape (Infinity lock), and Portrait.

Cursor commander is used to navigate between menu options in shooting mode and between images and menu options in playback.

Display button toggles overlayed information and menus on or off. Below the LCD are the backlight and brightness controls.

Rear Controls (click for larger image)

Lens Barrel controls

Lens Barrel controls (click for larger image)On the left of the lens barrel are the following controls (front to back - left to right in this image):

Auto/Manual focus switch. Throwing this switch leaves focusing in your hands as indicated by the hand "F" icon in the LCD display. Focusing is fly-by-wire using the focus ring on the front of the barrel.. This makes for a great feel and much more granular focusing than the "presets manual focus" (preset focus distances) of other digicams. Also featured is manual focus feedback in the LCD display, that is the AF system will tell you if it "thinks" you have a good focus or not the >o symbol meaning focus closer and o< meaning="" focus="" further.="" sometimes="" a="" little="" fiddly="" to="" get="" a="" good="" lock="" but="" useful="" for="" locking="" the="" af="" system="" if="" you're="" taking="" a="" series="" of="" shots="" and="" don't="" want="" the="" af="" system="" to="" seek="" between="">

Macro button, this switches the AF system into macro focus mode, that is focus on objects closer rather than further. We're not talking Coolpix 950 macro ability here, so it still wears that crown.

The white balance button allows you to toggle between different white balance modes: Auto, Manual Hold, Outdoors (sunlight), Indoors (incandescent). Just below the white balance button is the Hold button. This allows you (when in Manual Hold white balance mode) to measure and hold the whitebalance by simply aiming the camera at a white object (gray objects also work well) until the hold icon '\o/' stops flashing on the display. I personally used this feature alot and like it as it gives the absolute best white balance in any situation (as long as you remember to reset it if you move somewhere with different ambient light).

The spot meter button toggles spot metering on and off. Spot metering is indicated by the "Spot cross" in the middle of the screen. In spot metering mode the camera calculates exposure based on a very small region of the image hitting the CCD dead center (as indicated by the "Spot cross"). Spot metering is most useful in circumstances where the object you wish to take is brightly back-lit or surrounded by a colour much brighter than itself.

Pop-up Flash

Sony placed the flash in the one logical place they could based on the design of the camera, as a pop-up on the top of the lens barrel. You release the flash by sliding the flash release lever back (it pops up a bit violently for me.. I normally let it up with a spare finger when sliding the release back).

Three disappointments on the flash, first one is that for close-ups (and macros) the top edge of the lens barrel casts a shadow into the scene. The second is that there's no anti-red-eye option, third is there's no external flash-synch connector so there's no chance (unless you use a slave, but then you can't disable the internal flash) to use a better external or studio flash system.

Still capture mode LCD and menus

Screens below are captured from the LCD output

This is an example of normal display in Still capture mode, information displayed here was described earlier on in the LCD section of the review.

Pressing the UP cursor on the cursor pad displays the settings menu (note, you can still shoot with the settings menu overlayed). Here you can access all of the File, Camera and Setup options (described below) as well as enabling the Self Timer and Picture Effects.

The File menu has the following options:

  • Format (Ok / Cancel) (erase MemoryStick)
  • File Number (Series / Normal)
  • Image Size (1600x1200, 1024x768, 640x480)
  • Quality (Fine / Standard)
  • Rec Mode (Normal / Voice / E-mail)

The Camera menu (in Auto AE mode):

  • Digital Zoom (On / Off)
  • Flash Level (High / Normal / Low)
  • Exposure (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.5EV steps)

The Camera menu (in Aperture Priority mode):

Same as above except for the addition of the aperture setting, choose between:

F2.8 (wide), F3.4 (tele), F4.0, F4.8, F5.6, F6.8, F8.0

The Camera menu (in Shutter Priority mode):

Same as above except for the addition of the shutter speed setting, choose between (NTSC):

1/8s, 1/15s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/90s, 1/100s, 1/125s, 1/180s, 1/250s, 1/350s, 1/500s, 1/725s

(or in PAL):

1/6s, 1/12s, 1/25s, 1/50s, 1/75s, 1/100s, 1/120s, 1/150s, 1/215s, 1/300s, 1/425s, 1/600s

The Setup menu has the following options:

  • Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
  • Language (Japanese / English) - varies by region
  • Clock Set - set clock, date, time and date format
  • Beep (On /Off) - beeping in menus and fake shutter sound when taking a shot (!)
Pressing the right cursor key WITHOUT the menubar displayed displays a review of the last image taken, at this point you can choose to delete or leave the image. (Without having to turn to Play mode).