Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H2 review
I purchased this camera about a year ago as a backup to my DSLR, mostly for outdoor photography when I don’t want to drag along a lot of bulky equipment. I have to say, I’ve been presently surprised by the results this camera has given me.
The photo quality is excellent for a P&S, especially one with such a long zoom range. On the default settings, the pictures were over saturated for my taste, but the in-camera adjustments made it possible to get realistic colors. Noise is controlled well (for a P&S) and resolution is good enough to produce beautiful 8x10 prints (I’ve never gone larger).
The most impressive thing about his camera is its handling. Everything is laid out intelligently and easily accessible. It has a great program shift mode, which I use constantly. The grip is comfortable and makes for each one-handed operation when needed. The only compliant I have, and this is really nit-picking, is the button for picture size. I rarely use it and would have preferred an ISO button, but again, it’s a real nit-pick.
Ironically, for a camera that handles so well when taking pictures, the playback and menu system in general are average. Not bad, just average. Personally, I'm glad that Sony put the emphasis on the former.
The screen is the right size (IMO) and handles bright light well. I really don’t care for the larger screens that manufacturers are going with, including Sony on most of its cameras. They look great, but they make handling more difficult and drain the battery. The smaller (not small) screen on this camera really makes it comfortable to hold and it’s large enough to get the job done.
The battery life is very good and it’s easy to carry spares since it only takes two. The flash charge time isn’t bad for having only two batteries and the flash is powerful.
Overall, the build quality is very good and there’s really nothing to complain about. It is a step down from the H1, but then that camera was built like a tank. The H2 is light, but feels very solid. I am careful with my equipment, but I take this camera to places that I wouldn’t bring my more expensive equipment. It has taken a few good hits without any problems.
Performance is not stellar, but it's good for a P&S. My son has a Panasonic FZ8, which is noticeable faster in focus and shot-to-shot times. It's not that this camera's performance is bad as much as the Panasonic's is so good.
I don't use the movie mode frequently, but the movies I have taken came out well. I really like that you can use the zoom while shooting. They results seem slightly over compressed and don't compare well to the quality of Canon's movies (from what I've seen), but they're more than good enough for me. No complaints on sound quality.
When I purchased this camera, I was looking at the Panasonic FZ7 and Canon S3 IS at the same time. I only went with the Sony because it happened to be on sale one day when I walked into the store. All three of these cameras are good, but I have to say that I feel lucky that went with the Sony. If handling and IQ are high on your priority list, you can't go wrong with this camera.
The only real complaints I have with this camera is that it’s prone to purple fringing and focuses slow on the long end of the zoom, which can be a problem when shooting wildlife.
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