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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100

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In CNET Labs' tests, the DSC-T100 performed exceptionally well. After a quick 1.1-second start-up time, the camera rattled off a new shot every 1.4 seconds. With the flash enabled, however, that time ballooned to almost 3 seconds; the tiny 3.4 watt-hour battery simply can't recycle faster. The shutter responded quickly, lagging just 0.4 second with our high-contrast target and 1.2 seconds with the low-contrast one. The camera's burst mode also worked admirably, snapping 15 shots in 6.6 seconds for a frame rate of 2.3 shots per second.

The DSC-T100 takes great-looking photos with plenty of detail. Pictures stay sharp and free of noise as high as ISO 400. ISO 800 and ISO 1,600 produce a notable amount of detail-softening, speckled noise but are still useable. The T100's macro and super-macro modes really impress me; it took some beautiful close-up shots of flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

The camera's pictures aren't perfect, however. Like most snapshot cameras, shots taken at ISO 3,200 look more like expressionist paintings than photos. We recommend you stick to shooting at ISO 800 or lower to avoid extreme noise.

Movies captured in Fine mode (640x480 30fps MPEG-4) look very good, as long as the motion doesn't get too complex. A couple of flowers waving in the breeze works, but an entire tree full of fluttering leaves taxes the compression algorithm too much, leaving the video rife with blocky MPEG artifacts. Unfortunately, the trade-off leaves the video file size rather large: at about 1.3MB/sec, a minute of video takes about 77MB of disk space. That's more efficient than the MJPEG used by the Canon PowerShot SD750, but overall still fairly large. The optical zoom operates in Movie mode, another plus.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 demonstrates exactly what a good snapshot camera should be. Its slim form looks good and fits easily in the pocket, it includes some very useful features, and it shoots great photos at a fast clip. Its price may seem a bit steep, but you'll get a lot of camera in a very small package.

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