Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3

The 3.5-inch 16:9 aspect LCD occupies the entire back of the camera, and the only non-touch-screen controls are the zoom switch and tiny playback, power, and WLAN buttons. The touch-screen operation itself is no better or worse than other models, that is to say, occasionally nonresponsive. (As a side note, I also find touch screens difficult to operate in cold weather.) While the display is quite nice and relatively high resolution, it's still a bit difficult to view in direct sunlight. And--irritatingly--the G3 doesn't show you a full-resolution shot during the immediate review, which means you've got to jump into playback mode to verify sharpness and focus.

Unlike many of Sony's 2009 cameras, the G3 has the last-generation menu system with the confusing Home and Menu settings, and it lacks much of the newer automation technologies in those models as well. In addition to the Wi-Fi, it has a relatively robust feature set, which includes 4GB of memory for storing photos and optical image stabilization for the internal 4x zoom 35-140mm-equivalent lens. It does offer Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization tonal-range enhancement; face detection with adult- and child-priority as well as touch-priority, where you can touch the face on the screen; and Smile Shutter, though only in full auto mode. It does have an auto macro setting, which is a great option for any class of user.

Though not super speedy, the G3 performs pretty well for its class. It can wake up and shoot in just 2.2 seconds, though that assumes you've successfully slid the camera open all the way on the first try. In good light it focuses and shoots in only 0.3 second, and manages that in a solid 0.8 second in poorer lighting. It only takes 1.8 seconds for two consecutive shots, which increases to 2.2 seconds when flash recycle time becomes a factor. It can also shoot more than 50 frames at 1.6fps in burst mode. However, the G3's battery delivers a big performance downer: it uses a meager 680mAh model, far less powerful than its competitors, and hardly up to the model of constant use you'd expect from a portable photo album/browsing device, much less a digital camera. In practice, I couldn't go a day (of sporadic use) without seeing the low-battery indicator flashing.

The photo quality looks pretty typical for a similarly specced camera, a compact with a 10-megapixel sensor and 4x zoom lens or better, though to find comparison models--these include options like the Panasonic DMC-FX500, the Nikon Coolpix S60, and the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS--you have to look a couple of price classes down. As long as you stick with ISO 200 and below, which unfortunately rules out full auto operation, the photos look relatively sharp, with low noise, consistent and correct exposures, and nicely saturated colors. At ISO 400 you start to see softness and color noise, though how obtrusive it is depends upon the content of your shot. The G3 supports sensitivities up to ISO 3,200, but the highest usable setting is probably ISO 800. Though the G3 only shoots 640x480 30fps movies--they're good as long as you remember to bump quality up to Fine--it does support optical zoom during capture.

Sony has some wrinkles to iron out in the Cyber-shot DSC-G3's Wi-Fi implementation; it's not unusable, but it is more annoying than most people should (or will) put up with. And without it, the G3 is quite overpriced--if you want essentially the same camera, but better designed and cheaper, then opt for the T700.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3
2.2 
2.2 
1.8 
0.8 
0.3 
Canon PowerShot SD880 IS
1.2 
3.2 
1.9 
0.8 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700
1.7 
2.4 
1.8 
0.9 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX150
1 
4.1 
2 
0.6 
0.5 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500
2.3 
3.5 
2.7 
0.7 
0.5 
Nikon Coolpix S60
2.4 
2.2 
2 
1 
0.6 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3

Part Number: DSC-G3 Released: Jan 8, 2009
MSRP: $499.99 Low Price: $399.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan 8, 2009
  • Digital camera type Ultracompact
  • Optical Zoom 4 x
  • Optical Sensor Type Super HAD CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (Super Steady Shot)
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"