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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150

Sony Digital Cameras

   


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150 Review

Review Date: Nov 8, 2004

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150

User's Experience

Wednesday, Oct 27, 2004 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Sony P150
  • 32MB Memory Stick
  • Wrist Strap
  • Interface Cables: USB and Video
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery and AC Adaptor
  • English & French Instruction Manuals: Operating Instructions Manual
  • Software CD: PicturePackage ver1.0

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150 is quite compact and definitely JeansPocket™ Certified. It is very well designed and built, and looks elegant whether it is powered on or off.

I like the AC adaptor which means I do not have to remove the battery from the camera to recharge it, plus you use it when transferring images to your PC and won't risk a dead battery midway during the transfer. On the other hand, this also means that you will not be able to recharge a depleted battery and use the camera for picture taking at the same time. An optional compact battery charger BC-TR1 is about CAD$99.99, ouch! An optional InfoLithium rechargeable battery NP-FR1 will set you back another CAD$79.99. A CAD$20 on-line accessory coupon is included with the P150.

The Sony P150 comes with all kinds of optional accessories: wide-angle and telephoto converters, a docking station, polarizing filter kit, Neutral Density (ND) filter, water-proof housing (underwater rated up to 132 foot depth), tripods, and flash.

At 7.2MP resolution (at 3072x2304 pixels), the supplied 32MB Memory Stick can hold about 9 images. Remember, this memory card is for you to practice using your new camera; when you are ready to go out and start shooting, you would most certainly need a larger Memory Stick: a 256MB Memory Stick Pro holds about 68 images, so we recommend a 512MB Memory Stick Pro. Buy the "Pro" since the hi-res movie can only be recorded on the Memory Stick Pro.

The viewfinder is optical and gives a small tunnel, though quite clear, view. I prefer to use the 1.8 in. LCD monitor to frame the shots since I can see exposure information on the screen. At 134K pixels, the LCD monitor is quite clear and very usable outdoors even in the sun. I do find it a bit difficult to see in very bright sun.

The Sony P150 does not have manual White Balance, but its intended audience will probably not care. AWB works well outdoors or using flash indoors, but the P150's weak point is AWB indoors without flash and under artificial light. If you use flash indoors (as most of us do), then colours are reproduced faithfully. The P150 does have an AF Illuminator but no high-gain LCD so, though you won't be able to see much if anything in extreme low-light, you'll still be able to lock focus (your subject will be bathed in the strong orange light of the AF Illuminator allowing you to frame your subject for a couple of seconds).

The PicturePackage software is barebones and basically allows you to transfer images from the camera to your PC, then to view them. You can rotate them, too, and that's about it (you can't even delete an image). Sony here is betting most of its intended users either will not bother to post process images, or already have an image editing software, such as Photoshop Elements. I, for one, am very glad they got rid of Pixela ImageMixer, and let's hope PicturePackage will be improved shortly.

Having gotten the opportunity to use it a second time now (first with the P100), I have to say my first impressions stay valid: there's no maximize screen icon, so you have to drag the window to make it bigger (and even this is hit and miss); the thumbnails are presented in a page format, which makes it very difficult to quickly navigate to a picture on the last page.

What I missed when reviewing PicturePackage for the P100 is that there are actually two more features in it: Automatic Slideshow Producer allows you to easily create a simple slide show with music and effect; and, CD Backup allows you to burn your images to a CD-R.

The Operating Instructions Manual is well illustrated and explanations are clearly written, though the fonts are quite tiny.

Carved Pumpkins: 1/13 sec., F4.5 and ISO 100
Carved Pumpkins
18.7mm, Program AE, Multi Pattern, 1/13 sec., F4.5 and ISO 100

The following write-up is similar to the one for the Sony P100.

Exposure CompensationBesides the Auto mode, the Sony P150 also has Program Auto mode which is similar to Auto except you have control over the ISO, white balance and can dial in an exposure compensation. The menu system remembers which function you last set, so it's a good idea to leave it at Exposure Compensation before you turn off the menu. This way, a press of the menu button will immediately bring you to exposure compensation. You would then use the Up and Down arrows to select a +ve or -ve exposure compensation.

Manual ModeIncredibly, there is also a Manual mode, allowing you to change both aperture and shutter speed, with an EV value displayed to indicate how much above or below you are compared to what the camera determines to be the correct exposure. In Manual mode, you can take long night exposures of up to 30 sec.

Scene ModesA number of Scene Modes provide easy automatic exposure determination for preset situations. You have to memorize the symbols to know which scene mode you are setting, though they become quickly intuitive: Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Soft Snap, Snow, Beach, High Speed Shutter, Fireworks, Candle.

Live HistogramYou can display a live histogram in Shooting mode. Usually I prefer to use Center AF but I find that the Sony P150's 5 Area Multi-Point AF works very well so I default to it. I also usually prefer to use Spot metering but the P150's Multi-Pattern metering works quite well.

 

The P150 displays the amount of time left before the rechargeable Li-ion battery fails. Note that it takes about 1 min. before the correct battery remaining time displays. This is only a guesstimate and, under certain conditions, the time remaining may not be correct, so don't become overly reliant on it. Better to have a spare battery ready just in case.

For the Sony P150, transfer is about 4.5 sec. per image using USB1.0 on my PC running Windows XP (Pentium 4, 1.6GHz); since the P150 permits USB2.0 transfer, this should be even faster. The Sony P150 provides an AC adaptor that plugs directly into the camera to recharge a completed depleted Li-Ion battery in about 200 min.

Compared to the Sony P100, is the extra 2MP resolution of the Sony P150 the only difference? And isn't it true that more pixels crammed onto the same sized image sensor means more noise and worse image quality? Surprise, surprise! The Sony P150 keeps a lid on noise while delivering greater image detail, as high as some of the prosumer models, with the result that image quality is simply excellent.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150 is an elegant, compact digital camera that gives great results in point-and-shoot mode. Because of its excellent image quality, we believe the Sony P150 may well be the best compact P&S available.

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