This 5-megapixel, 3X optical zoom member of Sony's Cyber Shot budget line is, aside from its larger sensor, a clone of the 4-megapixel DSC-P73 and costs just a few dollars more. Snapshooters who want ease of use plus basic manual controls will find pretty much all they need in the compact DSC-P93--except great photo quality. Nicely curved lines signal Sony's trademark Cyber Shot design. Even though it's solidly built, the compact DSC-P93 is highly portable, weighing 8 ounces with batteries and media. A shiny silver petal-shaped indentation for your right thumb helps with hand placement to keep errant fingers from blocking the flash.
A mode dial sits atop the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-P93, next to the power button, with access to both standard shooting options as well as scene modes. The dial clicks in nicely to each setting, but it's a little too easy to activate the rear zoom lever while switching modes. Minimal control buttons--flash, macro, self-timer, image size/delete, and display--on the rear of the camera are comfortably arranged.
But as has been the case with the Cyber Shots from the beginning, the 1.5-inch LCD is small and the display information even tinier--so tiny that people with less than excellent eyesight may have trouble identifying the display's icons and other data. On the other hand, the menu is bright and clear with easy-to-understand icons and text. Likewise, the optical viewfinder is of the Lilliputian variety, and aside from a bit of distortion, it's bright and clear, as well as usable in a pinch.The Sony Cyber Shot DSC-P93's feature set is based on simplicity, with a dash of manual controls. All the standards are here: six scene modes, white-balance presets, multi- and center-weight autofocus, and black-and-white and sepia effects. On the more advanced side, the P93 also has a manual mode for adjusting shutter speeds and aperture. With shutter speeds ranging from 30 seconds to 1/1,000 of a second, the P93 is poised for both long night shots and for stop-action capture. Aperture selection is paltry, with only two choices at wide and at telephoto, f/2.8 to f/5.6 (wide) or f/5.2 to f/10 (tele), respectively.
Choosing image size is made somewhat simpler with the P93's megapixel options: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and VGA. The camera features a function with which you can resize your original image up or down. We recommend only decreasing the size of the image; otherwise, you'll end up with a lower-quality version. Since the P93 saves the resized image as a separate file, you'll retain your original for printing or storage.
In addition to the standards, the P93 now has a live histogram, available in both capture and playback modes. Like everything else that appears on the monitor, the histogram is small, but the visual mountains and valleys that indicate the balance of highlights, midtones, and shadows are clearly legible.
More pleasant surprises for the P93 include optional wide-angle and telephoto conversion lenses. Landscape and outdoor photographers will want to take advantage of the wide-angle accessory since the P93's zoom starts at a rather narrow 38mm and ends at a moderately telephoto 114mm (both in 35mm-equivalent terms).
The P93 now has an A/V output for displaying slides and movies on the TV. And the camera comes with two AA nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable batteries and a charger. One of the Cyber Shot features we've always loved is the camera/accessory dual-voltage capabilities. This means that when you're traveling overseas, you need to bring only a plug adapter and won't have to lug around a transformer, which helps reduce space and weight.
On the other hand, you're going to want to spring for a high-capacity Memory Stick because you're not going to fit more than six high-resolution images on the bundled 16MB card. The good news is that the P93 works with the Memory Stick Pro and, at the time of this review, has been tested to work up to 1GB. You'll need one to take advantage of the camera's ability to capture 30fps, VGA-resolution movies up to the capacity of the card.