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Conclusion - Pros

  • Very Good resolution
  • Low noise with some noise reduction
  • Good macro performance
  • Excellent build quality, good ergonomics
  • Proper hand grip
  • Excellent auto focus speed
  • Very fast shot to shot times (just over 1 sec)
  • Excellent write speed (up to 4 MB/sec)
  • Good battery life
  • Optional screw mounting lens adapter
  • Very large 2.5" LCD with anti-reflective coating
  • Multiple media support (MS Pro & CF)
  • External flash support via Hot-shoe
  • Fast USB 2.0 transfers
  • Combined AC Adapter / Battery charger

Conclusion - Cons

  • Tendency to use small apertures
  • Design fault with jog dial & program shift
  • About a third of a stop less sensitive than indicated
  • Limited image parameter adjustment
  • Poorly fitting flash unit
  • Lens retracts too quickly in play mode
  • Sharpening halo artifacts at default setting

Overall conclusion

The DSC-V1 was a relatively compact camera, so it's clear the same can't be said of the DSC-V3, but curiously the increase in size has really only improved its usability. Normally I'm not a big fan of chunky cameras for the sake of it but the DSC-V3 strikes an imposing shape with a nice soft rubber hand grip and cool metal surfaces. Also it does look better in black.

The next thing which will strike you about the DSC-V3 is how quickly it focuses, almost literally as soon as you can half-press the shutter release you'll see the comforting green AF bracket indicating the camera has done it's stuff and it's ready to take the picture. Sony truly have made great strides in auto focus speed in their latest generation of cameras and the DSC-V3 is a great example of that.

Good AF improves lots of things, most notably shot to shot time which for the DSC-V3 was very fast indeed, just over a second. This camera's slowest function is startup which is down to a rather sluggish lens extension mechanism (Olympus seem to have this nailed). Otherwise there's virtually nothing in the everyday use of the camera which will leave you tapping your fingers against the body in anticipation, it will be ready.

Image quality wise it's perhaps a fraction behind the Canon PowerShot G6, only because the G6 has a better lens and a more sophisticated sharpening algorithm. The DSC-V3 can leave some relatively strong halo sharpening artifacts on certain types of images, dropping the sharpening down a level can help but you may then lose some detail.

And now the pinch, well the DSC-V3 does appear to have two issues which lead to the same outcome, small apertures. The first is that the jog dial's default action is program shift and it's all too easy to roll the dial without realizing and leaving it with a small aperture. The second is that the metering system's program line appears to begin shifting to smaller apertures once shutter speed reaches 1/250 sec. This kind of program line would be fine on an SLR but on a compact camera with such a small lens shooting at F8 can only mean one thing; softer images and a loss of resolution.

Used with this knowledge (which you will of course have because you read this review from the beginning, you didn't skip to the conclusion, did you?), the DSC-V3 can produce great images with real punch and great resolution. And it will do so quickly, without fuss or effort.

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

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