The DSC-F717 represents the fourth generation of Sony's L-shaped 5x zoom split lens / body design. This started back in August 1999 with the 2 megapixel DSC- F505, in April 2000 the DSC-F505V gained a 3 megapixel sensor but only captured 2.6 megapixels of that (because of the lens design). August 2001 saw the announcement of the DSC-F707, with a larger lens this camera sported a 2/3" 5 megapixel CCD. One year on we are presented with the DSC-F717, still utilizing the same body design, same 5 megapixel sensor and excellent 5x optical zoom lens. The changes this time are more subtle with added features and expanded options.

Sony DSC-F717 vs. DSC-F707

Here's a quick summary of the primary differences between the DSC-F717 and the DSC-F707.

Sony DSC-F717

Sony DSC-F707
Colour Silver body Metallic grey body
ISO sensitivity Auto & ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 Auto & ISO 100, 200, 400
Max shutter speed • Program AE: 1/2000 sec
• Other modes: 1/1000 sec
• All modes: 1/1000 sec
AF points • Wide (3 point)
• 5 selectable
• Wide (3 point)
AF point highlight Yes No
Histogram display • Record live view
• Play mode
Exposure modes • Full Auto
• Program AE
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Full Manual
• Scene
• Program AE
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Full Manual
• Scene
Scene modes • Twilight
• Twilight portrait (slow sync flash)
• Landscape
• Portrait
• Twilight
• Landscape
• Portrait
White balance  • Auto
 • Daylight
 • Cloudy
 • Fluorescent
 • Tungsten
 • Manual preset 'one push'
 • Auto
 • Manual preset 'one push'
 • Outdoors
 • Indoors
Noise reduction Yes, 1/25 sec or slower Yes, 2 sec or slower
Noise reduction type Clear Color & Luminance NR Clear Color
MPEG clips MPEG HQX (16 fps unlimited) MPEG EX (16 fps max 15 secs)
Movie modes • MPEG Movie
• Clip Motion
• Multi Burst
• MPEG Movie
• Clip Motion
USB connectivity USB 2.0 (1.2 MB/sec *) USB 1.1 (0.8 MB/sec)
JPEG EXIF 2.2 (ExifPrint) EXIF 1.1
Play mode exp. info Overlaid on image review Only on three-thumbnail display
Memory Stick Tool Yes (folder creation / selection) No
MS to MS Copy function No Yes
Play mode scroll Yes (Delete / Protect / DPOF) No
Supplied storage 32 MB Memory Stick 16 MB Memory Stick
Zoom control • Horizontally mounted two speed
• Lens ring (switchable)
• Vertically mounted two speed
Accessory shoe • Hot-shoe • Cold shoe
Misc • Improved AF
• Shorter shutter LAG
• Faster startup time
• Improved AWB
Weight 659 g (1.45 lb) 667 g (1.5 lb)

* Probably limited by the transfer speed of the Memory Stick / Interface

1/2000 sec

There seems to have been a fair amount of confusion about the advertised maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. So here are the facts. The camera will only use 1/2000 sec in Program AE, Auto exposure or Aperture Priority modes at F5.6 upwards, you can not select 1/2000 sec in Shutter Priority or Manual nor will the camera use 1/2000 sec in Aperture Priority mode (no matter what Aperture). The camera's shutter can only achieve 1/2000 sec at F5.6 (or smaller), this is because the F717 (like many other digital cameras) uses a combined aperture / shutter iris mechanism, the smaller the aperture the faster the camera can open and close it. This is exactly the same limitation we saw on Canon's G1 and G2 (1/1000 sec only available at F8).

What's missing?

While I welcome quite a few of the additions here, especially 5-area AF and histogram displays I'm also disappointed that Sony didn't use this new camera as an opportunity to catch up to some of the competition in regards to basic imaging features. While I'm sure the F717 will continue the F707's reputation for excellent image quality we must wonder how a lack of features will affect the F717 when compared to some of the competition. Here's a summary of my gripes:

  • No control of colour saturation or tone
  • No way to disable the various automatic noise reduction algorithms
  • Program AE still crippled with a minimum 1/30 sec shutter speed
  • No concept of user sets / settings memories
  • No flexible program exposure
  • Limited continuous shooting ability

Review Notes

Because of the similarity between the DSC-F717 and DSC-F707 some parts of this review are based loosely on my DSC-F707 review.