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Design

Wearing a new champagne coloured metal front the S75 feels more solid than its older brother the S70, it's also got a few styling changes, more notably the centering of the lens (to allow for some finger grip space on the right of the lens), the thicker and more "rubbery" hand grip and indented rear thumb rest. The entire rear of the camera is made from one moulded plastic piece (an improvement over the S70's "bits and bobs" rear). The main battery / Memory Stick compartment has also now moved to the base of the camera.

There are lots of ergonomic changes too with the introduction of a proper exposure mode switch, a new power switch, extra buttons on the back for changing common settings (VERY welcome), a new vertical roller dial for changing certain settings and the relocation of the status LCD from the top of the camera to the rear.

Note also the addition of a flash hot-shoe, though without any connections it's designed only to take Sony's HVL-F1000 external flash which must be connected to the camera via a cable to the "ACC" connector on the side.

In your hand the S75 feels slightly more comfortable than the camera it replaces, the hand grip is now the full height of the camera and built out a little more, the rubber used is also more "rubbery", the thumb rest on the rear is now shaped to provide a better grip and the relocation of the lens means you can steady the camera more easily with your left hand.

The S75 has a solid, well-built feel with no creaks or rattles it lives up to the quality finish seen on so many other Sony products.


Status LCD

The S75's status LCD can now be found on the back of the camera above the main LCD, it now provides a wider range of information which allow you to use the camera without the main LCD. A breakdown of displayed information can be found below.


Main LCD Display

The main LCD is clear and bright, has an anti-reflective coating and now has several adjustments which allow you to control both the image brightness AND backlight level (obviously at the expense of battery life). At the bright setting the S75's LCD is one of the brightest I've seen on any digital camera, excellent for shooting in really difficult outdoor situations. It also works well from even quite extreme viewing angles. Kudos Sony.

 

Probably one of the most important improvements (from a photographers point of view) is the fact that the LCD display now provides about 99% frame view, compared to the S70's very poor 90%. This means that whatever you frame on the LCD display is exactly what you'll get, border to border.


Viewfinder

The viewfinder on the S75 is of the normal optical type, that is it has its own optical path and lens set which zoom in parallel with the main lens, the view is as with other optical viewfinders, cramped and distorted. There's a dioptre adjustment for those wearing glasses and a central "aiming crosshair" indicates the metering / autofocus center position. There aren't any parallax error lines which would help frame alignment at close subject distances.

The three lights which run along the right edge of the viewfinder indicate the following:

Red (Top) Steady Recording Movie clip
Red (Top) Blinking Memory Stick access
Green (Center) Steady Good AF Lock
Green (Center) Blinking No AF Lock / subject too close
Yellow (Bottom) Steady Battery charging (connected to AC adapter)
Yellow (Bottom) Blinking Flash charging


Storage / Battery Compartment

On the base of the S75 we find the combined storage and battery compartment, the spring loaded compartment door opens towards the front of the camera revealing the Memory Stick slot (top) and battery compartment. The S75 takes Sony's proprietary Memory Stick format, unfortunately Sony have been just as measly as before in only providing the camera with an 8 MB Memory Stick, with the camera set to JPEG Fine (1.4 MB image) you'd be able to take an amazing 5 images or at JPEG Standard just 9. Please Sony, considering that your storage devices are proprietary please consider including at least 16 MB of storage in the future.

Thankfully things get better when we turn to the battery which is one of Sony's truly impressive InfoLithium NP-FM50 batteries (the same as used in the S70), this provides a huge 1200mAh at 7.2V (8.5Wh) which translates into nearly 2 hours of non-stop shooting (mixed use of the LCD). The battery charges in-camera, simply connect the provided charger/AC adapter to the camera's DC-IN connector and the status LCD will provide a readout of charge progress.

Obviously another problem with having the compartment door in this configuration is that you'd have to lay the camera down on its front (assuming of course you'd powered it off and the lens was retracted).

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