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Conclusion - Pros

  • Nicely built and nicely designed
  • Good exposure and accurate color
  • Clean, artifact-free images
  • Very fast and responsive
  • Superb macro (magnifying glass mode)
  • Rotating lens for added shooting versatility
  • Very easy to use
  • Little or no chromatic aberration (purple fringing)
  • Optional clip-on wide adaptor
  • Very good movie performance
  • Just enough manual control for point and shoot audience
  • Excellent battery life
  • Excellent screen, usable even in bright light (less so in very low light)
  • Low noise - especially at low ISO's
  • Silent zoom (slow zooming though)
  • Histograms in record and playback mode
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support
  • Autofocus illuminator - works in very low light

Conclusion - Cons

  • Resolution nothing special - some images lack critical sharpness
  • Images can be over-contrasty - losing highlight/shadow detail in bright conditions
  • Some fall-off in edge sharpness
  • Limited range of apertures and shutter speeds in manual mode
  • Zoom cannot be used in movie mode
  • Hard to find the 'half press' point on the shutter
  • Visible shadow noise at high ISO's
  • Limited flash range

Overall conclusion

The Cyber-shot DSC F88 is something of a mixed bag - it's got some superb features and is lightning-fast, but the picture quality - especially sharpness - is far from the best of the 5MP pack (to be fair ,being so clean they respond well to Photoshop sharpening). The rotating lens is much more useful than you might first imagine, and allows you to get shots you simply couldn't take with a fixed lens - perfectly framed self-portraits, over the heads of crowds, even round corners. I found it especially useful when using the stunning super-macro 'magnifying glass' mode, where otherwise I might've been crawling around on all fours I could simply flip the lens round and shoot 'waist level' style looking down on the screen from above.

Everywhere I took the F88 it drew attention, and everyone seemed to find it as much of a pleasure to use as I did - a tribute to Sony's well-practiced design and human interface skills. At the end of the day there are cameras out there that offer sharper pictures for a similar (or lower) price - including the Sony W1 for one - and cameras with considerably more manual controls, but for the style-conscious snapper wanting a fast, fun and friendly camera with more than a dash of panache, the Cyber-shot F88 could be just the answer.

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