Conclusion - Pros
- Small, smart design
- Long zoom for such a slim camera
- Touch-screen interface generally pleasant to use
- Largest possible screen for a camera of its size
- Feature-packed (including DRO and image stabilization)
- Clever focus point selection
- Post processing options well implemented
Conclusion - Cons
- Noise reduction that reduces image quality at all settings
- Terrible battery life
- Poor use of screen in playback mode
- Over-enthusiastic reds
- Higher ISO settings of very limited use
- Lack of manual white balance (combined with average presets and inaccurate preview)
- Uninformative and frustrating 'Function Guide' mode
- Redundant power button
Our initial impressions of the T300 were not positive - with the function guide adding delays (but no useful information), and a 'plink' sound effect that screamed 'lifestyle accessory,' rather than 'camera,' every time it was touched (which does nothing to solidify the 'cameraness differentiation'). However, with these two turned off, the camera is transformed into a not-unpleasant, carry-everywhere snap shooter.
On the positive side, the T300 has a lot of features that will benefit its target audience. Image stabilization and dynamic range optimization will help produce better photographs for the user that is thinking more about capturing the moment rather than assessing the implications of the scene's lighting. There are also some useful post-processing effects (In-camera unsharp masking), as well as the flagrantly gimmicky ones (Apply 'Happy faces').
In fact, we suspect that there's a lot of Sony's W-series know-how lurking under the T300's slightly unusual exterior, making it reasonably nice camera to use. It's both easy and responsive in action and has a perfectly logical approach to metering, giving pretty consistent results. The lack of manual white balance and poor color-accuracy of the screen can occasionally lead to surprising results when you get them home but on the whole, it's a camera you can trust to do a lot of the thinking for you.
The touch screen interface has had a lot of thought put into it and, although it takes a little practice, doesn't leave you hankering for a four-way controller. The touch detection autofocus mode is also excellent, giving a high degree of speed and flexibility without having to leave the comfort of the point-and-shoot face detect mode. Unfortunately, its carry-anywhere, seize-the-shot credentials are severely undermined by its poor flash range/metering that can leave your friends looking like tomatoes nailed to a blackboard and a battery life that will have you constantly searching for somewhere to charge it.
In pure image quality terms, the T300 is a little bit disappointing and looks ominously like the herald of a season of disappointing cameras. 6.2 x 4.6 mm expanses of silicon do not appear to like being divided into 10 million segments - which is unfortunate, as that exact combination appears in a lot of recently announced models from a lot of manufacturers. The T300's insistence on rendering bright reds as eye-searing pinks may just be down to Sony's beliefs about what its customers want from their images, but we fear its always-on, detail-destroying noise reduction will be something we see a lot more of.
The question this camera raises is: if the extra megapixels added are too mushed-up by noise reduction to allow for large prints or cropping-in on images, then what are they good for? It's a question that we believe a lot of new cameras will have to answer, and needs to be considered by a potential T300 buyer.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||8.0|
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Sony Cyber-shot T300 Review Samples
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