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Design

A design which when first seen on the original DSC-F505 was certainly innovative. From a design perspective nothing has changed from the original, the lens still being the dominant structure of the camera and section which demands your left hand for support. Contained within that large barrel is a Carl Zeiss 5x zoom lens (equiv. of 38 mm to 190 mm) and the CCD sensor, on top of the barrel is the pop-up flash unit. Sprinkled along the left side of the barrel are various control buttons, I'm a fan of these as it means setting white balance or macro mode is quick and easy (no fiddling through menu systems). Also on the base of the lens barrel is the tripod mount.

The 'back" of the camera is attached to the lens by a strong 140 degree swivel. The swivel has a lock at dead center (90 degrees) and can rotate 90 degrees upwards and 50 degrees down. On here you'll find the "interface" for the camera, a two inch hybrid LCD which can be used with or without the backlight.

First impressions are, "Wow, weird". But after your first few shots you'll be easily comfortable with the F505V, it seems very natural to cradle the lens in one hand and hold / tilt the controls body to face you. Kudos to Sony for including a sturdy hand strap, as it should be the F505V is a 'hand camera' rather than a round-the-neck and the hand strap is ideal.


LCD Display

LCD with backlight on, no direct light.

LCD with backlight off, light from left rear.

I said it in the F505 review and I'll say it again here. Despite various arguments to the opposite I reckon the Hybrid LCD on the F505/F505V is the best LCD on any current digital camera. Here's my simple reasoning: (a) In dark environments use the backlight, the LCD is large, clear and accurate in colour (b) With ambient light, switch off the backlight tilt the LCD away from you 30-45 degrees and still have a usable, clear (if not perfectly colour accurate) image.

Why should having no backlight be so important? Battery life. Simply, without using the LCD backlight a fully charged F505V will last approx. 100 minutes compared to 80 minutes with the backlight on (that's 20 minutes more shooting). The overall brightness of the image can be controlled through the setup menu (32 levels). Measurements showed that the viewfinder was about 98% accurate (showed 98% of the final shot) which is considerably better than the DSC-S70.

Full details of information displayed on the LCD (in record mode) are shown below:


Viewfinder

Ah yes, there isn't one. And did Sony take some stick because of it. But they're smart enough to recognize that with viewfinders in digital cameras so poor and the vast majority of digital camera users using the LCD to frame a shot going without is no great hardship. That combined with the enormous design difficulties in adding a viewfinder to this split design.


Battery Compartment

Here it is again, that Sony attention to detail and quality finish. Just as with the S70 the F505V has a beautifully finished, sprung compartment door (right side) with a full metal hinge and easy operation (lets hope other manufacturers with lesser attention to detail are reading this review). Behind the compartment door are both the battery and Memory Stick slots.

 

The battery is (naturally) a Sony InfoLithium "S" type (much smaller than the M used in the S70), it's rated at 3.6V 4.1Wh (1140mAh), the supplied charger AC-CF10 input 100-240V 50/60Hz.

Power from the supplied AC adapter / charger is provided by a dummy battery which slides into the battery compartment with the power lead coming through a small rubber slot in the compartment door.

You can't power the camera and charge the battery at the same time.


Memory Stick Compartment

In the same compartment as the battery is the MemoryStick slot, these tiny little flash storage devices are about the size of a piece of chewing gum and can be bought up to 64MB (currently.. though 128MB should be on the way) in size. Just push in and the Stick will lock into place, one more press and it will eject.

 

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