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Sony Cyber Shot DSC-H2 review: Sony Cyber Shot DSC-H2

A pair of 2,500mAh rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride AA batteries and a charger ships with the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-H2, and they last a lot longer than any disposable option except lithium. If you want to plug the camera into the wall, Sony offers an optional AC adapter. There's an accessory flash for the H1 but not the H2, so you'll have to rely on this camera's built-in flash, which reaches out to 29 feet with the lens at its widest angle and ISO set to auto.

Performance is very similar to the H1. It takes 2.6 seconds to power up the H2 and take the first picture. Time between shots is about average for its class at 1.5 seconds, though it remarkably remains about the same when using flash. Burst mode captures up to 7 fine-quality JPEGs at about 1.5fps. At VGA resolution, the maximum number of shots jumps to 100, but the speed remains the same.

Image stabilization works well, providing between one and two stops of leeway when shooting handheld at slower than normal shutter speeds. For example, we got sharp images of a stationary subject at 1/125 second, with the lens zoomed to a 35mm equivalent of 432mm.

The H2 focuses quickly in bright or even moderately dim light when assisted by its red AF illuminator. It slows down a bit in very low light, but that's to be expected in a camera of this class. Framing in dark conditions is difficult due to the fact that you can't increase the gain on the LCD. The same is true of the EVF, but on the plus side, it has a diopter to compensate for shooters with less-than-perfect vision.

We like the DSC-H2's photos and movie capture quality. It renders natural, accurate colors, with just the right saturation. Manual white balance yields the most neutral results, though the tungsten setting was a very close second under our test lights. Exposures were generally accurate. Moderate purple fringing turned up where you'd expect in high-contrast areas. Noise is minimal at ISO 80 and ISO 100 and becomes noticeable at ISO 200. By ISO 400, noise is very obvious, and at ISO 800 and ISO 1,000, the images become unacceptable for print. The 640x480, 30fps movies look smooth and detailed, even through pans and zoom; however, the autofocus tends to lag during camera motion.

Sony's Cyber Shot DSC-H2 is a competent megazoom and, given its attractive price, would make a nice step up for snapshooters or advanced amateurs who don't want the inconvenience--or need the power--of a dSLR.

Shooting speed  (seconds; smaller is better)
Shutter lag (typical)  
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7
Kodak EasyShare P850
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ4
Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-H2

Continuous-shooting speed   (frames per second; larger is better)
Typical continuous-shooting speed   

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