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Conclusion - Pros

  • Reliable 'point and shoot' performance
  • Good image quality in good light; bright, sharp images with immediate 'consumer friendly' appeal
  • Powerful flash with slow synch mode
  • Efficient image stabilization
  • Good zoom range (although only starting at 38mm)
  • Compact dimensions for the zoom range
  • Reliable exposure system in most shooting conditions
  • Large, clear screen (but prone to fingerprint smearing)
  • Good edge-to-edge sharpness
  • Good detail at lowest ISO settings
  • Some in-camera retouching options
  • Good movie quality
  • HDTV output
  • Good value

Conclusion - Cons

  • No real wide angle
  • Manual mode only offers 2 F-stop settings
  • Slow, unreliable focus in low light
  • Only basic external controls
  • Longwinded menu structure
  • All-plastic body
  • Non-standard video/USB connector
  • Combined effects of noise and noise reduction at high ISOs and in low light produces poor results
  • Noise reduction effects visible even at low ISO settings
  • Menus and review mode can feel a little sluggish
  • HDTV output requires additional equipment
  • Tendency to clip highlights
  • Some color fringing issues
  • No manual (custom) white balance

Overall conclusion

I mentioned in the introduction to this review that the only apparent difference between the Sony DSC-H10 and its predecessor - the H3 which we reviewed in January - is the size and resolution of the screen. So it won't come as a surprise that this conclusion is not much different to the one I wrote for the H3.

Like its predecessor the H10 offers a massive zoom range in a very compact package: if you are looking for a camera that you can carry all the time but don't want to dispense with a very long zoom, you should seriously consider it as one of your options.

Image quality is virtually identical to the predecessor's. It is good in reasonable light, the output is ready to print, sharp and with appealing colors. At higher ISO ranges and in low light this picture changes but the results are no worse than on the competition's comparable models - certainly not at standard print sizes. The image stabilization system works efficiently (though don't expect miracles at very low shutter speeds) and can help to reduce the need for very high sensitivities in at least some shooting situations. The camera is a little prone to highlight clipping (again, not worse than the competition) and there is some evidence of color fringing and blurred low contrast detail even at low ISOs (caused by noise reduction).

The exposure meter works reliably in most lighting situations and the built-in flash does a decent job and has good reach, though sometimes a small dose of negative flash compensation can be beneficial in order to avoid blown-out highlights.

The small low-res screen certainly wasn't exactly a strong argument in favor of the H3. Sony has replaced it now with a bigger version and also doubled its resolution. So this point can be crossed off the 'cons' list but the H10 is competing in the budget bracket of the market and that's clearly reflected in its specification, construction and design.

The camera is still all-plastic (although it looks much less cheap in black than it does in silver) and 38mm at the wide angle is far from being truly wide. Another big minus is the lack of a manual White Balance option, especially if color accuracy under artificial light is of importance to you. This is particularly unusual on a modern digital camera and made even more inconvenient by the fact that the white balance presets are not particularly reliable either.

Like the H3 the H10 is essentially a long-zoom point and shoot camera that performs well as long as you let it do its thing in Auto mode. Once you develop an ambition to set your own shooting parameters things get a bit more tricky. This is partly because some manual settings are simply not available, but also due to the fact that changing the settings that are actually there can be a fairly time-consuming process. This is down to the slightly counter-intuitive menus and user interface in general (something Sony seriously needs to address in any future 'high end' compact cameras).

In conclusion the H10 is a compact long-zoom point and shoot camera that reliably takes pictures in Auto mode and offers good value for money. There are a few negatives you should have in mind but image quality is decent. Most of all, like its predecessor it is a fun-to-use camera that you can carry wherever you go.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 6.5
Ergonomics & handling 7.0
Features 7.5
Image quality 7.5
Optics 7.5
Performance (speed) 7.5
Value 8.0

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Sony DSC-H10 Review Samples

40 images • Posted 7 April 2008 • View album
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