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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T3 review: Sony Cyber Shot DSC-T3

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MSRP: $499.95

The Good Extremely thin and compact. High-speed burst mode. Large, bright LCD screen.

The Bad No technical improvements from the T1. Average photo quality.

The Bottom Line It's super-thin and super-cool but if its what's inside that counts, the DSC-T3 is essentially the DSC-T1 repackaged in a slightly smaller case.

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With the release of the T3, Sony has announced their slimmest digital camera to date -- a 5-megapixel beauty with a large 2.5 inch LCD screen, and internal lens which performs 3x optical zoom without protruding from the camera body.

Design
Successor to the T1, the T3 keeps all the same features and improves its aesthetics with a slimmer body weighing a mere 146 grams.

Measuring just 17.8mm thick (or should that be thin?!) this camera is not much bigger than your average PDA and perfect for carrying around on the go.

Available in a cool, matt black or brushed silver stainless steel, the front is smooth and flat, with a 3x Optical Carl Zeiss (Vario-Tessar) Lens that functions entirely within the body of the camera, leaving the face completely flat. We reviewed the black model which makes a refreshing change from the usual silver of most digital compacts.

An impressive-looking 2.5 inch LCD screen covers most of the real estate on the back of the T3, leaving just enough room along the right-hand side for the menu controls. The buttons are laid out nicely, and are easy to navigate using the hand you're holding the camera with.

Features
The T3 boasts a remarkable number of features for its size. As with the T1, Sony uses its Clear Photo LCD technology to improve the brightness and clarity of the display, as well as Real Imaging Processor for fast burst mode

A 0-4X SmartZoom allows you to focus in on specific areas of your subject by cropping the image size without losing image quality, and the "Magnifying Glass" mode allows you to magnify images on the display up to 3.3 times.

Choose from nine automatic Scene Selection modes including Twilight, Portrait, Landscape, Snow, Beach, and Fireworks to suit almost any lighting condition, and Picture Effects - B&W or Sepia - can be applied to still or video to enhance your images.

The usual Image Size options are included, and are accessed via a dedicated button on the camera back, not within the menu system.

A useful feature is the amount of remaining battery displayed in minutes, rather than showing as a percentage on an image. When fully charged, the battery claims to last 100 minutes.

Performance
Auto-focus and auto-exposure options ensure even beginners will receive decent results, though more advanced users may find the lack of manual controls restricting.

Image quality was decent, fairly clear but not as bright or sharp as we might have hoped. The flash light is extremely bright -- to the point of making our subjects squint -- but its performance was rather weak, with images looking very soft and even grainy when shot in a somewhat dimly-lit room.

Video was surprisingly good, capturing 640x480 VGA at 30 frames per second, with quality challenging that of the still images.

One of the most notable features was the burst mode - the T3 shoots bursts of up to four full-resolution images at three frames per second - putting it right up there in terms of snapshot performance.

Impressive casing aside, the Sony DSC-T3 is a good point-and-shoot digital camera with automatic controls to appeal to those with little or no photography experience. Owners of the T1 are not missing out on much except the slimmed-down shape, but for the same price the newer model definitely wins.

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