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Design

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So it's chunkier, bigger and heavier than the DSC-V1 and slightly smaller and lighter than the 'old' DSC-S85. The DSC-V3's thick rubber hand grip hints that this is a camera designed for the photographer, it's not particularly pretty but looks like it means business. The lens system appears to be identical to that seen on the DSC-V1, the pop-up flash a new 90 degree 'flip-up' type which sits directly in front of the flash hot-shoe. The rear of the camera is dominated by one of the largest LCD monitors in the business, it measures 2.5 inches corner to corner and has 123,000 pixels. Otherwise layout is fairly conventional, Sony chose to mount a jog dial horizontally in the rear of the grip, just in reach of your thumb.

Side by side

Below you can see the complete line up of $700 seven megapixel digital cameras available now (at the end of 2004). All of these cameras feature a 1/1.8" seven megapixel CCD sensor, have four times or better zoom lenses and manual control features. There's a clear split between the Casio, Pentax and Olympus and the larger Sony and Canon.

Camera
Dimensions
Volume (approx.)
Body weight
(inc. batt & card)
Casio Exilim EX-P700 98 x 68 x 45 mm (3.8 x 2.7 x 1.8 in) 299 cm³ 261 g (9.2 oz)
Pentax Optio 750Z 100 x 62 x 42 mm (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.7 in) 260 cm³ 254 g (9.0 oz)
Olympus C-7000 Z 102 x 59 x 43 mm (4.0 x 2.3 x 1.7 in) 258 cm³ 254 g (9.0 oz)
Sony DSC-V3 120 x 63 x 72 mm (4.7 x 2.5 x 2.8 in) 415 cm³ 401 g (14.1 oz)
Canon PowerShot G6 105 x 73 x 73 mm (4.1 x 2.9 x 2.9 in) 432 cm³ 465 g (16.4 oz)

In your hand

The big hand grip has a soft 'sticky rubber' coating which makes for a good grip, the shutter release and jog dial are located almost ideally and can be easily operated while holding the camera in one hand. However I found the zoom controller to be too low and too far to the right, the only way to operate it was with the middle of my thumb, either that or shift my grip.

LCD Monitor

It's big and it has pretty good resolution, we're not used to seeing large LCD monitors with a high pixel count but the DSC-V3's 2.5" monster has 123,000 pixels which although not increased over the DSC-V1's 1.5" is still enough to provide a clear detailed view (although you can see the screen's grille).

The screen has a matte anti-reflective surface although no protective plastic cover.

Viewfinder

The DSC-V3 has a pretty run-of-the-mill 'optical tunnel' viewfinder, it's sufficient for those occasional low light shots but no substitute for the WYSIWYG of the LCD monitor (or even a well implemented EVF, Sony should have a word with Konica Minolta). Those who wear spectacles will no doubt be unhappy to hear that the DSC-V3 has no dioptre adjustment. The rest of us will be equally unimpressed that there's no center-of-frame cross or parallax correction lines.

The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:

Red Blinking Self-timer
Red Steady Capture & Write (camera busy)
Green Steady Auto Focus / Auto Exposure locked
Green Blinking Auto Focus can not lock
Orange Steady Flash charged and will fire
Orange Blinking Flash charging, not ready

Battery & Storage Compartment

In the base of the hand grip is the camera's single compartment, it houses the InfoLithium rechargeable battery and slots for Memory Stick (including Pro) or Compact Flash Type I. The DSC-V3's battery is larger and considerably more powerful than that of the DSC-V1, 4.4 Wh (about 1222 mAh) compared to 2.8 Wh (about 777 mAh). Just like many other Sony digital cameras the battery charges in the camera body, just plug in the provided AC adapter / charger.

The DSC-V3 is only the second Sony digital camera to support Compact Flash media, although unlike the DSC-F828 the V3 doesn't support the slightly thicker Type II. This shouldn't be a major issue as Type I is already up to capacities of 2 GB.

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