Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50 review:

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T50

The rest of the camera's features and functions are essentially the same as the T30's. In other words, we like it. You won't find manual exposure controls, but those are rare in a pocket camera like this, anyway. If Sony had added aperture- and shutter-priority modes instead of a touch screen, they would have set themselves apart from the pack in a more meaningful way. Our only real gripe would be that the 3X optical zoom lens only opens as wide as an equivalent of 38mm. With so many pocket cameras offering 28mm lenses, and given that Sony hasn't widened the zoom range since the T-series was instituted, it's definitely time for a change, and that change should also include a faster lens. At its widest angle of view, the aperture is f/3.5, while an f/2.8 lens would be better suited to low-light shooting, such as at museums, nightclubs, and indoor parties.

Speaking of low light, the DSC-T50 managed to keep noise down to usable levels, even at its top sensitivity setting of ISO 1,000. At ISO 80 and ISO 100, noise was practically nonexistent. At ISO 200, it began to creep in, but without taking away much detail. At ISO 400, it's slightly more noticeable and eats up some finer details; for example, the hash marks on the tape measure in our test scene were blurry but still distinguishable from one another when viewed at 100 percent. At ISO 800, those same hash marks blurred together and noise was very visible; and we saw only a minor increase when we boosted it to ISO 1,000. While not as desirable as images shot at lower ISOs, even at this camera's top ISO settings, the images should be suitable for 4x6-inch prints as well as monitor viewing at less than full size.

In other aspects, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-T50's images were similarly pleasing. We witnessed images with well-saturated, accurate-looking colors and plenty of image detail at lower ISOs. The automatic white balance turned in warm results with our lab's tungsten hot lights, but the tungsten preset stepped in to save the day with much more neutral results. In actual daylight, the auto white balance served up nice, neutral colors.

Performance was fast. The time from pressing the power button to capturing its first image took 1.5 seconds, and the shot-to-shot time between subsequent images was also 1.5 seconds without flash, jumping slightly to 2.1 seconds with the flash turned on. The shutter lag measured 0.5 second in our high-contrast test, and 1.5 seconds in low-contrast conditions. Continuous shooting clocked in with 1.3fps when capturing VGA-size JPEGs, and 1.4fps when capturing 7.2-megapixel JPEGs.

If you like its touch-screen interface, then Sony's Cyber Shot DSC-T50 is a great choice in a pocket camera. If you'd rather stick with time-tested, old-fashion controls, then Sony's DSC-T30 offers everything this camera does and is just as great a choice. We suggest you go to a store and try this camera alongside the T30, if possible, before buying, though both can produce beautiful images, especially in decent lighting conditions.

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