Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2

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The Good Zippy performance; sleek design; 4GB built-in memory; optical image stabilizer.

The Bad Requires dongle for USB; will only use memory card if internal memory is full; slow zoom.

The Bottom Line A likable ultracompact snapshot camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 nevertheless faces stiff competition from its own siblings, the T20 and T200.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 7

Frankly, I find the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 something of a market-segment mystery. It's identical to the T20 with a few exceptions--a smaller, somewhat cleaner design, a marginally larger LCD, 4GB internal memory, and some not-terribly-engaging playback options--none of which are worth the $50-plus premium. On the other end, for about the same price (on the street) you can get the T200 with its 5x zoom and significantly larger 3.5-inch LCD compared with the T2's 3x lens and 2.7-inch LCD. They all deliver almost identical performance and photo quality. So despite the fact that the T2 is a pretty good camera, I can't really come up with any situation in which it's the most sensible choice. Unless you want blue, green, or pink, colors not offered for the more staid T20 and T200.

Even the ways in which the T2 clearly distinguishes itself don't confer clear advantages. For instance, I really like the new aesthetic. Unlike its increasingly larger siblings, which have slowly outgrown the "ultracompact" designation, the 5.4-ounce, 2.5-inch-by-0.8-inch-by-3.5-inch T2 remains firmly pants-pocketable. It's more flat-faced and protrusion-free than the other models, with a cooler front-sliding vertical lens cover. But the buttons and switches, most notably the Review and Scrap Book buttons, are very difficult to press, and the LCD is too small for comfortable touch-screen operation. (For more on the design, check out the slide show.)

Like the T200, the T2 doesn't include a dock and requires a dongle converter for the docking port (included) to connect the USB cable (also included), or to connect a cable for display on a TV (not included). But as the third Law of Consumer Electronics states, "One more small piece to lose: bad." It's doubly a problem with the T2; since it includes 4GB memory and will only write to an external card if the internal memory is full, you need that dongle. The alternative is springing for a standard or HD-capable Cyber-shot Station.

And then there's the touch screen. Over time, Sony has streamlined the operation and layout of the various options, making it less onerous of an interface. But finger touches don't always register immediately. Furthermore, unlike the higher-end model Ts, which have 16:9 aspect screens and use the blacked letterbox area for the touch-screen icons, the T2's 4:3 screen overlays the icons on the viewing display, and they can be difficult to see against some scene types.

You access the frequently used shooting settings via the display. These include resolution, self timer, exposure mode (auto, scene, program, or movie), focus (multi, center, spot, or manual), metering mode (multi, center-weighted, or spot), ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation, macro, and flash. Though it lacks aperture- and shutter-priority modes, it does tell you the current shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting when you prefocus. There's also a live histogram for those, like me, who don't believe the display. Drive mode, white balance, color mode (standard, vivid, natural or sepia), flash compensation, red-eye reduction and SteadyShot require a dip down deeper into the menus. Oddly, the T2 lacks manual white balance, but I doubt many will miss it on this camera.

The face-detection autofocus works very well at spotting multiple faces in a scene--the T2 will optimize focus and exposure for the face(s)--and one of the bonuses of the touch screen is you can use it to indicate the primary face. I still think that the Spot Focus feature, in which you touch the desired focus point is a faster, better solution, however. The T2 also includes Sony's Smile Shutter mode, which pauses shooting until the detected faces crack a smile; I wish it could be liberated from the scene-mode ghetto, though, it would be useful in general Program mode shooting, too.

As all those gigs of onboard memory indicate, Sony geared up the T2 for photo sharing and storage. Toward that end, the T2 provides a host of ways of dealing with pictures post-shoot: Albums, Favorites, Sharemark, and Scrapbook. You physically organize the photo files into Albums, tag Favorites for retrieval, and tag with Sharemarks for automatic resizing and uploading. I simply couldn't get Sharemark to work--in theory, it runs a copy of Picture Motion Browser that's stored in the internal memory, but it gave me a lovely, cryptic error--and since it's a Windows-only application, it won't run on a Mac. But I only made a cursory attempt.

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