X

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T900 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T900

The 12-megapixel, touchscreen Cyber-shot DSC-T900 is expensive, but it's easy to see where your money's gone. Despite a few design quirks, it looks great, packs in plenty of hi-tech features and, most importantly, delivers good results, both in terms of stills and hi-def movies

3 min read

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

The Cyber-shot DSC-T900 is Sony's top-of-the-range T-series camera, a dazzling blend of technology, miniaturisation and multimedia. And so it should be at an average street price of £320. For that though, you get 12-megapixel stills, high-definition movies and one of the biggest, highest-resolution LCD displays ever seen on a camera.

orig-t900_silver.jpg
8.3

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T900

The Good

Great movie quality; good stills quality; attractive styling and finish; responsive touchscreen controls.

The Bad

Sliding lens cover is tricky to open; pricey.

The Bottom Line

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T900 isn't just a camera -- it's a thing of beauty in both a technical and a visual sense, although the square corners arguably detract from its aesthetic appeal ever so slightly. But what matters most is that it's much more than just an empty styling exercise -- it also delivers good results

Positives
Let's start with that 89mm (3.5-inch) LCD. Frankly, you can't miss it. It takes up pretty much the whole of the back of the camera, leaving no space for any controls. Not that the T900 needs any, because its touchscreen interface takes care of practically every adjustment. It works pretty well too, responding to a light press from your thumb with only the occasional hesitancy or vagueness. You'll need the manual now and again in the early days, but much of the time you can figure out where stuff is simply with a little trial and error.


There's some distortion here, but not much colour fringing, and the detail has held up pretty well even in the corners of the frame. The ISO 3,200 maximum is optimistic though, with finer details starting to disappear as early as ISO 400 (click image to enlarge)

The only other controls on this camera are power and playback buttons on the top and a shutter release with two levers around it. The front lever controls the zoom, while the rear lever switches between the still and movie modes.

At this price, the results had better be good -- and they are. For the sake of compactness, the T900 uses a miniaturised 'folded' lens that doesn't extend from the body. Such lenses are often slightly iffy on the optical side, but this one isn't. It's good and sharp, with not much distortion or colour fringing. It softens up slightly at the far end of its 4x zoom range, but this is common in compacts anyway.

The 89mm, touchscreen LCD display is huge, leaving no space for physical controls on the back

If the stills are good, the movies are even better. They're not at a 'Full HD' resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, but the T900's 1,280x720-pixel movies are still very crisp and clear. You get stereo sound -- as long as you don't put your finger over the right-hand mic orifice -- and the ability to zoom in and out as you film. The autofocus keeps up well during filming too.


The icing on the cake is the playback quality on the 920,000-pixel LCD. You can play your movies back on your Sony Bravia TV -- once you've bought the optional cable -- but they look pretty damned good just played back on the camera.

Automatic scene recognition and fancy face-detection modes are de rigeur on any hi-tech compact, but the T900 doesn't rely on gadgets like these for its appeal.

Negatives
There are a couple of design issues, however. One is the sliding front lens cover. It's no good trying to start the camera up with the power button because it's the lens cover that does it. You get used to that soon enough, but it's only after the loss of a couple of fingernails that you realise there's a knack to getting the damned thing open. With your right thumb on the baseplate and three fingers flat against the lens cover, a combination of gentle pressure and downward movement does the trick.

The T900's lens delivers very good definition, although it falls away slightly at full zoom. Overall, it's a good showing, especially for a super-slim camera with a non-extending, folding lens (click image to enlarge)

Then there's the interface. Why, when they've got 920,000 pixels to play with, did the designers settle for fuzzy, low-resolution icons? It's like finding your new Ferrari's got vinyl seats.

Conclusion
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T900 is expensive, but you can see where the money's gone. It's a classy piece of kit that produces good-quality stills and great HD movies. The touchscreen interface works well and the LCD is excellent. If you've got the cash, the T900's certainly got the style.

Edited by Charles Kloet