Sony DSC-F717 Review
Storage / Battery Compartment
In the right of the cameras hand grip is the combined storage and battery compartment, the spring loaded compartment door opens towards the front of the camera revealing the Memory Stick slot and battery compartment. Note that the F717's strap eyelet is poorly positioned in relation to the door (in that it can get trapped in the door closing) however the rotating part of the eyelet is stiff enough to hold ring out of harms way.
Clearly one issue we can continue to raise about Sony digital cameras is storage capacity, the maximum capacity Memory Stick currently available is 128 MB. Each FINE quality 5 mp JPEG weighs in around 2.2 MB, that doesn't offer a whole lot of shooting ability on one stick. We're well over a year on since the last increment in storage for Memory Stick, 256 and 512 MB Stick's are well overdue.
The F717 takes the high capacity InfoLithium NP-FM50 battery, this provides 1200mAh at 7.2V (8.5Wh) which should translate into approximately 4 hours of non-stop shooting. The battery charges in-camera, simply connect the provided charger/AC adapter to the camera's DC-IN connector and a yellow LED on the back of the camera will indicate that the battery is charging.
On the rear of the camera under a sprung door are the AV Out and DC-IN connectors. The sprung door is a nice touch, I'm glad to see the back of those rubber grommet doors. On the right side of the lens barrel you'll find another sprung door behind which lurks the USB 2.0 connector. Note that the F717 can be connected to either USB 2.0 or 1.1 without any compatibility issues.
Hot Shoe / ACC connector
In a step up from the F707 the F717 now has a hot shoe which supports Sony's HVL-F1000 flash unit with a direct synch connection as well as other third party flash units.
The ACC connector can be used to trigger an HVL-F1000 off-camera and is also used for wired remote control RM-DR1 or the remote control included on Sony's VCT-D480RM tripod.
To use a flash on the hot shoe you have to enable it via the setup menu. Once enabled the camera operates differently in manual exposure mode, it no longer alters the live view to represent the selected exposure but instead knows that a flash shot is about to be taken and keeps the live view at a consistent viewing level. We had no problems using the F717 with either Nikon's SB-50DX or our studio strobe systems (via a Nikon PC Sync terminal adapter). Camera was set to manual exposure mode.
The F707's flash unit is electro-mechanically operated. It will automatically pop-up from the lens barrel either when required (Auto Flash mode) or when selected (Forced Flash mode). I would liked to have seen an option to pop the flash up upon pressing the flash button and disable it by closing the flash (as seen on the Nikon Coolpix 5700).
The flash has a rated range of of 0.5 - 5 m (1.6 - 16.4 ft).
There are three LED windows dotted around the lens rim, the two at the top provide IR light for the NightShot and NightFraming features (they glow a very slight red colour when switched on). The third on the right side in this picture is the laser output for Hologram AF (below).
Hologram AF Assist
The F717 keeps the F707's unique laser pattern 'Hologram AF Assist'. A weave pattern is produced by a small laser mounted beside the lens (see above). This pattern is used to assist the contrast detect AF system to lock AF in low light situations. The pattern appears for approximately one second, in our tests of the F707 we found it worked best on large subjects which are covered by the entire pattern.
Tripod mount / camera base
Supplied In the Box
Supplied in the box are:
- Sony DSC-F717 Digital Camera
- Battery Pack NP-FM50
- AC Adapter / Charger AC-L10
- Memory Stick MSA-32A (32 MB)
- Lens cap
- Shoulder Strap
- USB Cable
- A/V Cable
- Instruction Manual
- CD-ROM: Sony USB Drivers, MGI PhotoSuite, MGI VideoSuite
- Lens filter set - Polarized - VF-58CPK S
- Lens filter set - ND filter - VF-58M
- Lens filter set - Star cross filter - VF-58SC
* Availability of accessories may vary by region.