The Cyber-shot DSC-H3 was first announced back in August 2007 and is the latest addition to Sony's High Zoom range of compact cameras - and something of a departure (previous models were all considerably larger 'SLR-style' affairs). This 'baby-brother' of the Cyber-shot H7/H9 offers a 10x zoom in a very compact body for photographers on a tight budget. It is equipped with an 8MP sensor and has inherited a number of its bigger sister-models' features such as Face Detection, Optical Image Stabilization and HDTV output (albeit using an optional composite video cable or Cyber-shot Station dock). Looking at its specification and price point the H3's is obviously designed to go head-to-head with the popular - and similarly specified - Panasonic TZ3 and Canon SX100 IS.

In its press material Sony says the Cyber-shot H3 has been introduced for "parents looking to capture and re-live their children’s back-to-school memories." Let's see if the Sony H3 could be an attractive camera option for any further demographic groups, starting as usual with the headline features:

  • 1/2.5" CCD sensor, 8.1 million effective pixels
  • 10x (38-380mm equiv.) Carl Zeiss branded optical zoom
  • 2.5" LCD screen
  • HDTV video output (requires optional cable or dock)
  • Super Steady Shot image stabilization
  • 2cm macro
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 9 Scene modes
  • Face Detection
  • Dynamic Range Optimizer

Color Options

The H3 is available in two different colors, silver (as shown here) and black (which looks to our eyes a little less 'toy-like'). You may well find that only one of the two is on offer in your own country.

Sony DSC-H3 specifications

Street price • US: $270
• UK: £180
Body Material Plastic
Sensor

• 1/2.5" Type CCD
• 8.3 million pixels total
• 8.1 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3264 x 2448
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 640 x 480
• 3264 x 2176 (3:2)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)

Movie clips

• 640 x 480 @ 30fps
• 640 x 480 @ 16.6fps
• 320 x 240 @ 8.3fps

File formats • JPEG Exif v2.21
• DPOF
• MPEG1
Lens

• Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
• 10x optical zoom
• 38-380 mm (35 mm equiv)
• F3.5 - F4.4

Image stabilization Super Steady Shot (optical image stabilization)
Conversion lenses Yes (wide converter VCL-DH0758, tele converter VCL-DH1578, close-up VCL-M3358)
Digital zoom up to 20x (up to 51x at 640x480)
Focus Autofocus, Focus Preset, Macro
AF area modes • 9-point
• Center-Weighted
• Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: 50 cm-infinity (wide), 90 cm-infinity (tele)
• Macro: 2 cm - infinity (wide), 90 cm - infinity (tele)
Metering • Face Detection
• Multi-Pattern
• Center-weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
Exposure bracketing Yes
Shutter speed • Auto: 1/4 - 1/2000 sec
• Program Auto: 1 sec- 1/1000 sec
• Manual: 30 sec - 1/2000 sec
Aperture F3.5 - 10 (wide) F4.4 - 10 (tele)
Modes • Auto
• Program Auto
• Manual
Scene modes • Twilight
• Twilight Portrait
• Soft Snap
• Landscape
• Beach
• Snow
• Fireworks
• High Sensitivity
• Advanced Sports Shooting
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Fluorescent 1
• Fluorescent 2
• Fluorescent 3
• Incandescent
• Flash
White balance fine tune no
Self timer 2 or 10sec
Continuous shooting Approx 2fps
Image parameters Color Mode: Vivid, Natural, B&W, Sepia
Flash • Auto
• Forced On
• Slow Sync
• Forced Off
• Range (auto ISO): 0.2 - 7.0 m (wide) 0.9 - 5.6 m (tele)
+/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
Viewfinder No
LCD monitor • 2.5-inch TFT
• 115,000 pixels
• Variable backlight
Connectivity • Multi-use Terminal - Incorporates USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and AV output
• DC input
Print compliance • Exif Print
• PictBridge
• Print Image Matching
Storage • Memory Stick Duo
• Memory Stick Pro Duo
• Memory Stick Pro Duo (High Speed)
• Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo
• Internal memory (31 MB)
Power • Li-ion battery pack NP-BG1
• Optional AC adapter
Weight (no battery) 264 g (9.3 oz)
Dimensions 106 x 68.5 x 47.5 mm (4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in)