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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good balance colour, white balance works best under natural light
  • Good resolution, above the average three megapixel
  • New wider range of white balance options
  • Unlimited MPEG HQX recording (although silent movies only)
  • Takes two standard AA batteries (and good battery life to boot)
  • Selectable ISO sensitivities
  • Manual focus options (unusual at this price level)
  • New multi-burst 16 continuous shooting mode
  • Good on-screen information (including exposure)
  • Good "wide area" auto focus which normally locks within a second
  • AF Assist lamp
  • Relatively quick startup and operational speeds
  • Supplied with a larger 16 MB Memory Stick
  • Simple design, easy to use
  • Good build quality
  • Automatic lens cover
  • Supplied AA NiMH batteries and charger
  • Good value for money


Conclusion - Cons

  • Some noise visible at ISO 100
  • Occasional "clipped reds" in sunlight (too saturated)
  • Barrel distortion at wide angle
  • Program AE exposures crippled by minimum 1/30 sec exposure (must use twilight scene mode for slower exposures)
  • Poor performing pre-programmed white balance settings, no manual white balance
  • No manual controls (although not really expected at this price level)
  • Front edge positioned tripod mount


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Sony DSC-P71: (3 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8
Features 7
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8.5

The DSC-P71 is a camera which doesn't pretend to be anything more than a value for money three megapixel digital camera. That said it does bring features over and above what we'd expect at this price point (manual controls, unlimited MPEG mode, supplied rechargeable batteries etc.)

As a budget or first time camera the DSC-P71 certainly fits the bill, everything is easy to understand and you'll get everything in the box you need to go out and start shooting. Image quality was good with a neutral colour balance and good resolution performance.

It's testament to how far digital photography has come when you can get a brand new compact three megapixel, three times optical zoom digital camera for around US$399 which can perform so well.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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