The Cybershot DSC-F828 was announced on 15th August, this new camera is very obviously a development of the DSC-F717 design. Just under a year since the F717 and Sony's flagship prosumer digital camera has certainly undergone a large number of changes, not least of which is the switch from the electronically zoomed five times lens of the F707/F717 to an all new mechanical zoom seven times lens with Carl Zeiss T* coating and a wide angle 28 mm equiv. capability. Sony has also chosen to go with their latest sensor, the all new eight megapixel four-color (RGBE) 2/3" type (8.8 x 6.6 mm) CCD. Ignoring all other changes this makes a formidable combination, a high quality mechanically linked zoom lens combined with the resolution of an eight megapixel CCD. This camera is arguably the most important prosumer digital camera this year.

Timeline, a little history

It's worth remembering that Sony first introduced this unusual large lens, split body swivel design back in August 1999 with the DSC-F505 (the 13th camera ever reviewed on this site!). Back then the F505 had a 35 - 190 mm five times optical zoom lens and two megapixel sensor, this camera was developed into the F505V in April 2000 which used 2.6 megapixels of a three megapixel sensor. The five megapixel DSC-F707 appeared in August 2001 (IFA 2001), this was updated to the DSC-F717 in September 2002 (Photokina 2002).

Sony DSC-F828 vs. DSC-F717

Sony DSC-F828

Sony DSC-F717
Specification differences
Sensor 2/3" type (8.8 x 6.6 mm)
RGBE color filter array
2.7 µm pixel pitch
2/3" type (8.8 x 6.6 mm)
RGB color filter array
3.4 µm pixel pitch
Effective pixels 8.0 million 5.0 million
Lens Carl Zeiss T*
28 - 200 mm equiv. (7x zoom)
F2.0 - F2.8
Mechanical zoom
Carl Zeiss
38 - 190 mm (5x zoom)
F2.0 - F2.4
Electric zoom
Zoom 7x zoom 5x zoom
Auto focus Single, Continuous, Monitor Single
Program AE min shutter 1 sec 1/30 sec
Continuous modes Speed Burst, Framing Burst, Multi Burst Burst 3
Continuous 2.5 / 2.3 fps, 7 images max 2.5 fps, 3 images
Image parameters Color, Sharpness, Contrast Sharpness
Movies 640 x 480, 30 fps, no limit *
640 x 480, 16 fps, no limit
160 x 112, 8 fps, no limit
* With MS Pro or Microdrive only
320 x 240, 16 fps, no limit
External flash Advanced Hot-shoe, ACC terminal Basic Hot-shoe, ACC terminal
Storage Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Compact Flash Type I/II, Microdrive Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro
Electronic viewfinder 235,000 pixels 180,000 pixels
LCD monitor 1.8", 134,000 pixels 1.8", 123,000 pixels
AC adapter / charger Sony AC-L15 Sony AC-L10
Weight (inc. batt) 906 g (2.0 lb) 659 g (1.45 lb)
Dimensions 134 x 91 x 156 mm
(5.3 x 3.6 x 6.1 in)
120 x 67 x 148 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 5.8 in)
Design / Control differences
Body Black, heavy gauge metal case Silver, thinner metal case
Battery / MS compart. Base of hand grip Side of hand grip
CF compartment Side of hand grip None
Status LCD display Yes, backlit No
EVF dioptre control Below eyepiece Above eyepiece
4-Way controller Joystick style 4-way pad
Command dial Rear of hand grip Jog-dial in front of shutter release
Control method Hold button and roll command dial Press button
Zoom control Mechanically linked ring Electronically driven buttons
Zoom by wire ring
Top controls Shutter Release, White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Status Backlight, Shooting Mode, Power Jog-Dial, Shutter Release, Exposure Compensation, Night Shot, Shooting Mode, Power
Under thumb controls Menu, 4-way Joystick, AE Lock / Erase, Command Dial Display, Thumbnail, Menu, 4-way Pad (Quick Review, Flash Mode, Macro Focus, Self-Timer)
Rear controls EVF/LCD, Display, Self-Timer / Thumbnail, Magnify, Quick Review, CF / MS EVF/LCD
Lens barrel controls Flash Open, Flash Mode, Metering Mode, Macro Focus, Burst / Bracket Mode, Focus Mode, Night Shot Focus Mode, Zoom, AE Lock, Metering Mode, White Balance, White Balance Preset

Sony ICX456 eight megapixel four color CCD

On June 11 news surfaced of a new Sony sensor with an amazing eight megapixels. This sensor took the same 2/3" type size (8.8 x 6.6 mm) of the previous five megapixel sensor used in the DSC-F717. At this size and resolution the pixel pitch (distance between pixels) is just 2.7 µm, extremely small and this raised questions of noise and sensitivity, those answer we will only be able to deliver in our full review.

Just a month later on July 16 Sony announced that they had developed a new four color RGBE color filter array (at the time we noted that it would be likely used on the new eight megapixel CCD but had no confirmation of this fact). Instead of the traditional RGB color filter array the new CFA is made up of Red, Green, Blue and Emerald (like Cyan) color filters. Sony claim that this expands the gamut of color which the sensor can capture and greatly improves color response.

3-color filters (RGB) 4-color filters (RGBE)