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Top of camera controls

The top of the DSC-S85 is fairly clean and logically laid out, the power switch is mounted around the camera mode dial, just in the right position for a flick from your thumb. Beside the mode dial is the cameras microphone, used to record audio in movie mode. The shutter release button is tilted slightly forwards and is the soft touch -> click type.

Exposure / Camera Mode Dial

Movie Mode

The S85 features the new MPEG EX movie system which allows you to record long movies only limited by the amount of space on your Memory Stick. To achieve this the rate at which video is recorded has been reduced to 8 frames per second. MPEG HQ is still available (16 fps, better audio, full screen replay) but is limited to 15 second clips.

Playback

Enters playback mode, this displays the last image/movie recorded. Cursor arrows or jog-wheel can be used to scroll through images (other functions described later).
Program Auto Exposure

Automatic exposure mode, camera meters the scene and selects best combination of aperture and shutter speed (and ISO if set to Auto) to properly expose the image. Additionally you can compensate the exposure by either +/-2.0EV in 0.3 EV steps.
S

Shutter Priority Auto Exposure

In this mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will attempt to select the best aperture for a proper exposure. Shutter speed is displayed on the LCD, click once then roll the jog-dial to select different shutter speeds. As you change the shutter speed the cameras exposure system recalculates and displays the appropriate aperture, there is no warning if the exposure is outside the camera's exposure range. The LCD view changes to reflect the look of the final image at this exposure. Available shutter speeds (40 total):

1/1000, 1/800, 1/640, 1/500, 1/400, 1/320, 1/250, 1/200, 1/160, 1/125, 1/100, 1/80, 1/60, 1/50, 1/40, 1/30, 1/25, 1/20, 1/15, 1/13, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 1.3, 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.2, 4, 5, 6, 8 secs

A

Aperture Priority Auto Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the camera will attempt to select the best shutter speed for a proper exposure. Aperture is displayed on the LCD, click once then roll the jog-dial to select different apertures. As you change the aperture the cameras exposure system recalculates and displays the appropriate shutter speed, there is no warning if the exposure is outside the camera's exposure range. The LCD view changes to reflect the look of the final image at this exposure. Available apertures:

Wide: F2.0, F2.2, F2.5, F2.8, F3.2, F3.5, F4.0, F4.5, F5.0, F5.6, F6.3, F7.1, F8.0
Tele: F2.5, F2.8, F3.2, F3.5, F4.0, F4.5, F5.0, F5.6, F6.3, F7.1, F8.0

M Full Manual Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the shutter speed from any combination of the above. Use the jog-dial to switch between shutter speed or aperture, click then roll it again to change the value. The LCD view changes to reflect the look of the final image at this exposure. The exposure compensation readout now displays the difference between the selected exposure and the metered exposure up to a maximum of +/-2.0 EV.
SCN

Special Scene Exposure

"Scene Exposure mode" is set through the SETUP menu, you can choose from three exposure modes which preset certain camera settings to ensure the best possible exposure in those scene modes:

  • Twilight (low light shots, long exposures)
  • Landscape (focus locked to infinity, small apertures, flash cancel)
  • Portrait (large apertures)

SET
UP
Setup

Enters camera setup mode (described in more detail later). Having a distinct setup mode is a new thing to Sony digital cameras, a welcome change, it gets away from overloaded exposure menus.

As I commented in my S75 review it's good to see that Sony are now taking the creative needs of the photographer into account. The S85 offers a good range of manual control and exposure options which should give you plenty of scope for creative shooting.


Rear of camera controls

The back of the S85 is logical and straightforward. A group of six buttons and the 4-way direction pad on the left cover a large number of camera settings without having to enter the camera's menu system. Other notable additions are the new jog dial which rests under your right thumb, it's a click / roll type and is used to set exposure compensation, aperture / shutter speed in manual modes and scroll through images in playback mode.

One slight oddity is that you can not change settings using the jog dial with the main LCD switched off. Despite the fact that this information (shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation etc.) is relayed on the smaller "control panel" LCD, pressing / turning the jog dial with the main LCD switched off has no effect on settings.

All buttons are described below:

W / T Zoom / Magnify

Zooms the camera lens towards telephoto (104 mm) or towards wide (38 mm). The zoom control itself is a single position button (non-proportional). In playback mode the zoom control doubles as a control for magnifying the displayed image or displaying thumbnails.
Flash

Selects flash mode: Auto Flash, Flash Fill-in, Flash Cancel
Image review

Instantly reviews the last image / movie, in this mode you can zoom into the image but not scroll between images on the Memory Stick, you'll have to switch to playback mode for that (why it wasn't implemented via the jog-dial I'm not sure).
Macro Focus

Switches between normal; 50 cm (19.7") - Infinity, and macro focus; 4 cm (1.5") - 50 cm (19.7") range.
Self-Timer

Engages / Disengages the self-timer. Self-timer is cancelled after the next shot is taken.
MENU Record Menu

Enters record menu (detailed later).
DSPL/LCD Display

Toggles LCD display mode either live preview with full detail overlay, live preview with simple detail or LCD off.
Exposure Compensation

Enables exposure compensation, click the jog-dial then roll between compensations of : (+/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps)

-2.0, -1.7, -1.3, -1.0, -0.7, -0.3, 0, 0.3, 0.7, 1.0, 1.3, 1.7, 2.0 EV
Spot Meter

Switches metering mode from the default Center-Weighted average to spot metering which only uses a small circular area in the center of the frame for metering. Press once more to cancel.
FOCUS

Manual Focus

Enables manual focus mode, click the jog-dial then roll between focus distances of:

0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 5, 7.0, 10, 15 m or Infinity.

Note that this button also doubles as an "AF Lock", with one press (without rolling the jog-dial) it locks the current focus position.

AE LOCK Auto-Exposure Lock

Locks the metered exposure at the current setting, useful for aiming the camera at the subject to use for metering then realigning the scene for the final shot. AE Lock is cancelled after the next shot is taken.
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