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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good neutral colour balance
  • Resolution about the four megapixel average (limited by the lens?)
  • Automatic white balance worked well under both daylight and incandescent lighting
  • New wider range of preset white balance options
  • Unlimited MPEG HQX recording (with audio)
  • Selectable ISO sensitivities
  • 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
  • Excellent build quality
  • Relatively quick startup and operational speeds
  • Supplied with a larger 16 MB Memory Stick
  • Automatic lens cover
  • Supplied charger / AC adapter
  • Battery charges in-camera (don't have to remove battery after every session)
  • Relatively good battery life
  • Smaller and lighter than the competition
  • Good value for money


Conclusion - Cons

  • Images do have a softer look than other four megapixel
  • Occasional ghosting / blooming around overexposed detail
  • Lens doesn't seem as sharp as those used on other four megapixel digital cameras
  • Program AE exposures crippled by minimum 1/30 sec exposure (must use twilight scene mode for slower exposures)
  • Lack of manual controls (competition has aperture, shutter priority, etc.)
  • AF points are not selectable (other than the center point)
  • No control over colour saturation or tone
  • No manual white balance
  • Inconsistent flash white balance in sequential shots
  • Front edge positioned tripod mount


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Sony DSC-P9: (4 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9
Features 7
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8.5
Value for money 8

The DSC-P9 is ultra small, ultra lightweight and very solidly constructed. The metal case and self-covering lens produce a high user confidence level when carrying and storing the camera. You wouldn't think twice about dropping it in your bag or jacket pocket, it's a camera that can happily go anywhere. And yes, it delivers four megapixel images. Although not quite as sharp as some of the competition you'll still get what we would expect from a four megapixel digital camera.

The DSC-P9 is $50-$100 cheaper than most of the rest, we can attribute this difference to the fact that the P9 doesn't have any manual controls (aperture priority, shutter priority etc.) and that it doesn't allow you to select AF points, or preset a manual white balance. But in my eye these features are worth the extra $50 or $100. These are not first-purchase cameras, they are certainly not entry level, if you are considering spending this amount on a pocket camera then you may well also want to have a camera you can "grow into", something which can provide more control.

Overall the DSC-P9 does a commendable job, it fits its design specification and can deliver very good images for users who are simply looking for a high resolution pocketable point-and-shoot. That said I wouldn't ignore the competition simply because they cost a little more.

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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