Sony Cybershot DSC-F828 Review
Compact Flash Compartment
Yes, there really is a Compact Flash slot on the F828. Reading this on the initial Sony spec sheet was a particular eye-opener, as I am sure it was to many people. The only comment I could get out of Sony on this subject was that "Sony always selects the best solution on a per product basis". Clearly support for Compact Flash will broaden the appeal of the F828, it opens the market for the camera to those sceptical about Memory Stick or current owners of Compact Flash. The CF compartment door is located on the side of the hand grip and is opened by sliding a small lever on the rear of the camera, the door is plastic hinged and spring loaded. Inside is a Type I/II Compact Flash slot which also supports IBM Microdrive. Good news if you're not interested in paying $600 for a 1 GB Memory Stick Pro (a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Compact Flash card is approximately $320).
At the bottom left corner of the camera body is a flush fitting rubber (shame) connector cover, behind this are the A/V out, USB 2.0 and DC-IN connectors. Note that the DSC-F828 charges its battery in-camera using the supplied AC adapter / charger, the advantage being that you won't have to keep removing the battery to charge it, the disadvantage that you will end up having to open this compartment cover fairly regularly. The ACC connector (used mostly for external flash / remote control) is on the right side of the lens barrel.
Perhaps one of the most significant features of the DSC-F828 is its lens. The lens has an equivalent focal length range of 28 to 200 mm (7x zoom) and a maximum aperture of F2.0 to F2.8. This makes it both wide (by digital camera standards) and fast (large aperture, letting more light in). This lens also features a mechanically linked zoom mechanism, this allows instant and very fine control over zoom, it's easy to quickly zoom in or out and frame a shot precisely. This lens carries the Carl Zeiss name, just like several other lenses use on Sony digital cameras. Our previous investigation has lead us to understand that this means that the lenses are designed by Carl Zeiss and produced in Japan.
Carl Zeiss T*
What makes this lens different to those which have gone before is that it carries the T* notation, this means that a special multi-layer anti-reflective coating has been applied to each lens element designed to cut eliminate internal reflection, flare, increase contrast and sharpness. This isn't however the first digital camera to have a Carl Zeiss T* lens, Contax can claim that with TVS Digital which has a smaller three times zoom T* lens.
Lens / Body Swivel
As mentioned earlier the camera body and lens are connected by a swivel which has 100° of movement. In its normal (straight forward) position there is a stiff 'click', from here the body / lens can be titled upwards 70° or downwards 30°. This level of freedom comes in very useful for lots of types of shot including; overhead 'crowd' shots, waist level shots, macro shots and many more. Perhaps an idea for a future camera but it would have been nice if the swivel had a locking ratchet which could be released by holding a button (thus removing the possibility of the lens 'drooping' when carrying the camera by the body grip alone).
|Tilted upwards 70°||Clicks into place at 0°|
|Tilted down 30°|
Base / Tripod Mount
The F828's pop-up flash is of a different design to the F717, it isn't simply hinged at the back, rather the rear hinge slides forwards and then the flash flips upwards. This allows the flash unit to be shorter but still sit high enough to avoid creating a shadow because of the lens barrel. The flash is released electronically, either by flicking the open/close lever, automatically if in Auto mode or by changing flash mode. Sony R&D please see my removable flash idea on the previous page.
Hologram AF assist
Hologram AF assist is a feature we first saw on the DSC-F707, this system works by projecting a crossed laser pattern onto the subject. This bright laser pattern helps the camera's contrast detect AF system to lock on to the subject. Our experience is that the system works well as long as the subject is large enough to be covered by several laser lines. The laser emitter is located on the front of the flash housing to the left of the Sony badge.
Supplied in the box (may vary by region):