Price (RRP): $749
It’s common knowledge in ‘the trade’ that fixed lens digital SLRs attract the more serious photographers, who are able to drive their demanding specs to acquire superior pictures. The rest of us are well advised to head for less-demanding gear for a worry-free life!
The fact is that you would be well advised not to ignore the Sony Cyber-shot DSCH2?s optically stabilised 12x zoom Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens; the zoom has a 35 mm SLR equivalent range of 36-432 mm. And don’t ignore its 6.0 million pixel CCD when shopping for a new digicam.
While the DSC-H2 has many semi-pro bells and whistles, it does not completely reach the top of the tree spec-wise: still image capture can be made only in JPEG, not TIFF or RAW, as many discerning photographers demand.
You could use the camera in basic auto mode but the DSCH2 also provides Program AE, shutter and aperture priority plus manual exposure determination, so it can serve a variety of masters. Fuss-free picture taking can be further simplified via a group of scene selections, selectable on the top mode dial.
A useful extra in manual mode will help the more advanced photographers to combine both High Sensitivity mode with the onboard flash to extend the effective shooting range of the DSCH2 out to 16 metres in low light situations. That’s some reach!
Further customising of your shooting can be found in the four colour modes (plus standard) that transform your shots to a more vivid result or natural, sepia and a B&W look.
The body fits well into the hand for shooting, with help from the conspicuous speed grip; at more than half a kilo in weight you know you’re dealing with a real camera. Not the model for a jogger!
Viewing the shot can be made with either of two viewfinders: the rear 5.1 cm LCD screen and the top-mounted LCD finder, which is ideal for critical lining up in bright light.
The long zoom reach is greatly helped by the incorporation of Sony’s well-tried Super Steady Shot optical stabiliser.
The camera’s six megapixel capture promises 32 x 24 cm prints. Full frame movies can be shot at 30 fps.
Using a High Sensitivity mode the camera can shoot in low light, with no flash; the camera raises the ISO setting to help avoid blur from shaky hands, and an internal Clear RAW NR algorithm reduces image noise at higher settings of up to ISO 1000.
The camera is not the quickest to get going but at least it will bring in the shots at a rate of about a second apart.
The lens was not entirely distortion free, but there was virtually nil pincushion distortion at the telephoto end of the zoom.
The DSCH2 is an excellent example of the fixed lens SLR, with many useful features, long zoom and sufficient pixels on the CCD to make big pictures.