Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T300 Review

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$399
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Slim design; Large display; Very fast overall performance

The Cons

Poor image quality; Confusing touchscreen navigation; Very noisy images at high ISOs; Uneven results with iSCN mode

Verdict

It has a head-turning touchscreen and a big 5X optical zoom, but Sony needs to do better with the basics.

At first glance, the Sony Cyber-shot T300 seems to have a lot going for it: a snazzy-looking 3.5-inch touchscreen, a 10.1-megapixel sensor, and Sony's new iSCN mode, which automatically selects from five scene modes depending on the shooting conditions. Slim enough to fit in your back pocket and stylish enough to wear around your wrist at a club, this latest flagship model in Sony's popular T-Series should be a hit straight out of the box, right? Wrong. For a camera that has so much innovation in terms of features and design, it fails miserably in usability and image quality.

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The Magic Touch?

At first, we were enamored with the large 3.5-inch touchscreen. However, adjusting the menu settings was confusing at best: We played with the camera for over a week but still couldn't discern the logic of the various functions on the screen. It simply takes too many taps to change any of the functions, and the futuristic sounds the camera makes as you navigate menus can quickly induce a headache.
Once you have your settings chosen and are ready to take pictures, the slim design of the camera combined with the active touchscreen on the back present another obstacle. Several times, either one of our fingers got in the shot or we accidentally hit the touchscreen and changed our settings.

Speed Demon

On the plus side, the T300 is a very fast digicam. We loved how quickly the camera fired up and was ready to shoot in about a second, after either sliding the lens cover down or pressing the power button. It also needed only about a half a second between shots.

Good Face Detection, So-So iSCN Mode

The T300's face detection was particularly effective at night when the camera automatically switched to Twilight Portrait mode. On the downside, the iSCN mode produced uneven results. Since it selects among only 5 of its 11 modes, we couldn't use iSCN in our Macro, Landscape, or Sports photo tests, which limits its appeal. However, it did help us capture nice portraits in difficult backlit shooting conditions.

We also liked the T300's Movie mode. It produced excellent VGA video clips at 30 frames per second, offering solid focusing while zooming in on distant subjects.

Suspect Image Quality

Overall, picture quality was poor. Macro shots of flowers and plants were decent, but the T300 often had trouble focusing in on extremely close subjects. Meanwhile, landscape photos were generally soft, which is strange considering the lack of movement in the subject matter and the camera's built-in Super SteadyShot optical image stabilizer. Though the T300 has a 5X optical zoom lens, the widest setting is only 33mm, which made it difficult to capture as much of the George Washington Bridge as other cameras in this price range. Colors were about average, though the T300 did a good job with skin tones.

Sony Cyber-shot T300 Verdict

Althought the Sony Cyber-shot T300 has a snazzy, slim design and an innovative 3.5-inch touchscreen, the camera's designers might want to go back to the drawing board and improve image quality and overall ease of use. For a camera with as many sophisticated features as the T300 has, it's a shame that it takes such subpar pictures.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Megapixel 10
Zoom 5
Camera Type Point-and-Shoot
Digital Camera LCD Size 3.5-inch touchscreen (230,000 pixels)
Size 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 inches
Weight 5.3 ounces
Company Website http://www.sonystyle.com