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Sony Cyber-shot H3 Review

January 2008 | By Lars Rehm
Buy on From $699.00

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

• 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

• 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)

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2008 and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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