Why you should spend your money on a different camera
Slim and stylish, good picture quality outdoors, beautiful LCD screen, fast and peppy
pricey, noisy low light images, often blurry photos half the day, better cameras exist
-The Bottom Line-
Wait for the Sony DSC-T9. Its what the T7 should have been. Or get a different camera that overcomes the shortcomings of this one - there are plenty.
It is my hope that you find this review to be informative and helpful. Like many of my other reviews. The difference between this review in others is that this will not be a comprehensive review as I have been known to write in the past. There are a whole lot of good reviews out there about the Sony DSC-T7 that delve into the technical aspects of the camera íV you will not find them in this one.
Pictures of the camera that I took:
The Sony cyber shot DSC-T7 is definitely a truly ultra compact digital camera. You probably won't find more than a handful of cameras are packed so many features with such a big screen as the Sony DSC-T7.
What I truly loved about this camera is that it is truly slim and pocketable. In a day and age where the Motorola razor phone, and anything slim, sleek and sexy are the rage, this camera fits right in. It's also got really decent and sharp optics, by size Carl Zeiss. The screen on this camera is truly gorgeous. The super macro features absolutely unbelievable, and the carefully tuned flash output is just enough to not overpower the picture. Pictures outside during the day are quite good. Video mode outside daylight rivals a lot of digital camcorders. Startup and snap to snap times are quick and peppy. Build quality and construction of the unit overall are excellent.
Where the camera fell short is in several key areas, some of which are difficult to blame on Sony engineers, and some just a matter physics and the limits of our technology today also taking into account the price point that consumers would be willing to pay for such a camera.
VALUE FOR THE MONEY (IT WASNíŽT VERY GOOD TO BEGIN WITH)
I've owned the Sony DSC-T1, the very first in the series in 2004. And before that, in 2002 I owned the Minolta X-1 which uses the similar technology in reducing the lens size. Back then, the T1 was a 5.1 megapixel digital camera with the same sensor taking pictures through the same lens -- but in a slightly bigger case. Fast forward to 2005, and you have the DSC-T7, which is the top of line of the range of the Sony ultra compact cameras and you still only have the same three times optical zoom and a 5.1 megapixel digital sensor. All for a grand price of $499. In retail stores such as Best Buy this camera sells for $449. (I got mine for free in a drawing.)
WHATíŽS WRONG WITH IT:
The difference now as opposed to the T1 is now the battery life is a fraction of what used to be. Also the unit is so small and slim, sensor so small (light capturing ability is bad), high iso quality is poor and only reaches 400 ISO, it's nearly impossible to take a sharp picture in low light without using flash. On top of that the flash range is significantly shorter than most point and shoots - the T1 included. The controls have been jumbled around so that now it is very, very difficult to operate the camera with one hand for the quick snap and shoot shots that have made this series so popular.
Expensive accessories! The camera uses Sony's proprietary memory stick duo format. You cannot zoom in or out while recording videos. There's no charging docking station included now (the T1 had one included). You only get a simple cloth case to protect the camera with out-of-the-box.
For a pocket camera, a lot of dust sure seems to seep into the lens íV stuff that you caníŽt get out. The sliding cover adds a lot to the dimensions, and does little to protect against dust. IíŽve found it only successful in inadvertently turning the camera on, and also causing rub marks on the main camera body, due to the sliding on and off in my pocket. Inevitably, the way that I pocket my camera would force enough dust into the lens that IíŽd never be able to take sharp photos without getting my unit serviced by Sony íV which is very pricey given that they have to take apart the optics to get to the dust.
Blurry pictures. I don't know about you, but I don't always take pictures in ideal conditions and in situations. The ideal situation is to take this camera on a day hike in nice bright sunlight. The second evening hits, you're stuck with blurry pictures, unexposed pictures, or light struck deer pictures. I don't care how well you think you can hold the camera steady, you simply cannot hold it steady enough without external support to take a sharp picture without flash. Sure you could bring a tripod, and use the included tripod adapter which you have to attach to the camera - but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a camera in your pocket to shoot whenever or wherever. Shooting with flash, your options are also severely limited, because the flash simply does not reach very far.
Yet more blurry pictures or someoneíŽs thumb pictures:
When you hand the camera out to a stranger to have them take a picture of you and a friend at a party, (because the camera cannot possibly take a group shot in the dark with such a low powered flash,) you almost in always have to make sure that they don't put their finger on top of the lens or the flash and to hold the camera steady. Nine times out of 10, will result in a blurry picture with no flash. If you have flash on, you will likely get redeye and the or, the picture would be rather underexposed and noisy.
Did I mention the comparatively poor battery life? Be ready to buy an extra battery or two.
Sony should be commended on taking a step in the right direction. But as of right now, its not the best place to spend your money.
Know the limitations of the camera and put it to its best use. If you don't want any other camera and only have a phone camera with you, then this camera would fit the bill. However, look into the T5, T33 models because the ergonomics, flash range, and battery life are better eventhough just about everything else is almost identical
I think the best solution available soon will be the Sony DSC-T9. Actually, the camera is available now in Japan, and is now also available from a number of importers online. The key notable features about this upgrade is that it features six megapixels, and true optical image stabilization, which will help to ensure that your pictures come out better. This is the solution that comes closest to the T7 or what the T7 should have been.
Casio has some really slim lines of digital cameras with OIS (optical image stabilization). Minolta makes one with optical image stabilization as well, but I would have to say that the Sony T-7 is simply better than what they have right now.
One camera that I absolutely have to recommend even though it's not ultra-compact camera, is the Fuji F10. I think there's a ready a lot of reviews out there on it, you can see pictures of it here: http://tinyurl.com/db7q4. This camera overcomes all the blurry picture limitations on the T7 with the very good low light performance that rivals DSLRs at up to iso 1600. The only bad thing about this camera is that I know that the F11 is just coming out next year in the US which will feature more manual control over the unit.
(last updated 12/22/2005)