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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10

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For the Cyber-shot DSC-H10 budget megazoom camera, Sony didn't change much from its predecessor, the Cyber-shot DSC-H3. Only its 230,000-pixel 3-inch LCD is new, compared with the 115,000-pixel, 2.5-inch version on the H3. Given the lack of an electronic viewfinder, that's a nontrivial enhancement, but pretty much the only one.

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7.0

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10

The Good

Capable of excellent photos outdoors in good light; compact and comfortable.

The Bad

No semimanual exposure modes; lens distortion; no zooming during movie capture; poor high-ISO noise profile; so-so auto white balance indoors.

The Bottom Line

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10 is a decent budget megazoom that can deliver very nice outdoor shots, but its photo quality falls short in other respects.

At 10.3 ounces with battery and Memory Stick Duo Pro card, the H10 is one of the lighter megazooms, and as compact as any of them. Still, I found it relatively comfortable to hold and use.


The grip is a tad shallow, which make may it uncomfortable for users with larger hands. A mode dial on top lets you choose from the various exposure modes--program auto, full auto, and manual--as well as the H10's handful of scene modes and movie mode.


The center control button--in the manual, Sony doesn't give it a name, just an iconic representation--sticks up a bit high, making it somewhat difficult to navigate without accidentally pressing it. Additionally, the Home and Menu buttons are flatter than I find comfortable.


One of my chronic gripes with Sony's menu system is that it doesn't wrap--once you've scrolled all the way to the end, it doesn't take you back to the beginning. You've got to scroll all the way back again.

With zoom ranges as long as 18x, it seems odd to refer to a 10x lens as a "megazoom," but the H10's f/3.5-4.4, 38-to-380mm-equivalent lens still seems a pretty big reach. The smaller range as well as the relatively narrow angle of view and absence of an electronic viewfinder tend to be what distinguishes the budget models from more expensive siblings such as the H9. The 8-megapixel sensor and hardware image stabilization--optical, in the case of the H10--are typical for its class. As with its predecessor, the H10 only provides a choice between two aperture values at any given focal length: f/3.5, f/4.0 or f/4.4, and f/8 or f/10, depending on where you are in the zoom range. It seems to be that the camera doesn't have a controllable aperture at all; according to the manual, it sounds like it just toggles a neutral density filter to decrease exposure: "When the zoom is set fully to the W side, you can select an aperture F3.5 or F8.0 (using the internal ND filter)." If that's true, then you can't control the depth of field at all. All in all, these make the camera's manual exposure mode a bit of a joke.

The H10 delivers above average, but not outstanding, performance, and comes in just a tad slower than the H3 in most respects. It wakes and shoots in a reasonable 1.7 seconds. Its shutter lag for high- and low-contrast scenes--0.5 second and 1.1 seconds, respectively--are typical for this class, as are its 1.7-second typical shot-to-shot time. It does post a gain with its solid 1.8-second flash shot-to-shot performance. Similarly, its two frames per second burst performance exceeds many of its competitors. The LCD is easy to see in direct sunlight--an essential characteristic, since the H10 lacks an alternate viewfinder.

Sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10

Photo quality ranges from great to not so great. Shots I took outdoors, in good sunlight, looked very nice; sharp, with accurate yet saturated color and correct, even exposures. Indoor shots look murkier and softer, with significant noise and processing artifacts at ISO 800 and higher. Furthermore, the lens displays far more distortion that I'd like. The H10's movies look good (I only tested it outdoors), but the audio sounds too muffled, and the camera can't zoom--and didn't even seem to want to refocus--during movie capture.

A decent, but not outstanding option for those in search of a modestly priced megazoom, you might want to check out our list of Best megazoom digital cameras before committing to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot S3 IS
1.7 
1.5 
0.8 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H3
1.3 
1.8 
1 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
1.7 
2 
1 
0.5 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10
1.4 
1.7 
1.1 
0.5 
Fujifilm FinePix S700
3.3 
1.3 
2.2 
0.6 

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

sony-cyber-shot-dsc-h10-b-digital-camera-compact-8-1-mpix-10-x-optical-zoom-carl-zeiss-black.jpg
7.0

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Image quality 7