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The latest Cyber-shot from Sony is a small and lightweight camera that offers HD video capture (720p). But despite its notable specifications, the unit failed to produce good image quality, which for some, is much more important than recording videos in HD.


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The Cyber-shot DSC-T500 is an easy-to-use camera. There are only three buttons (shutter button, power button, and playback button), a mode switch (that switches from still images to movie mode), and a zoom lever on top of the device, while sliding down the front cover reveals the flash, the built-in stereo microphone, the self-timer lamp, and the lens.

Sliding the cover automatically turns on the unit, with users being able to take photos almost instantly. The unit settings and modes can be accessed via the touchscreen: Pressing the Home icon brings up five sub-menus (Shooting, View Images, Printing and Music Tool, Memory Tool, and Settings), while the Image Size, Timer, REC Mode (comes with various shooting modes like Beach, Hi-Speed Shutter, Landscape, Snow), Flash, and Macro settings.

A user can also adjust the exposure, select the metering mode, reduce red-eye, and adjust the colour tones (in shooting mode), or retouch photos, change image size, rotate images, and print files (in viewing mode).

 


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While a bit heavy, the T500 can be used using one hand. And since it uses a neat layout, just about anyone can use it. The 3.5-inch screen is bright and crisp, allowing us to compose and take photos in almost any situation.

The unit only comes with 4MB of internal memory, which is equivalent to one high-resolution shot or 2 seconds of HD video (1280×720). Sony did not include any memory card, so you would have to purchase a Memory Stick Pro Duo card (if you do not have one) to fully utilise the unit. We took a couple of indoor and outdoor shots using the T500 to test its image quality. Shots taken at low ISOs were acceptable, but we started to see noise and smeared images at ISO 400. Exposure was also an issue with the T500, with some of our photos being underexposed and forcing us to do some advanced tweaking to achieve the best result.

Videos taken using the unit were crisp, with the camera being able to display foliage with details intact. Users can also zoom in or out or take photos while recording, which is handy if you find an interesting subject. Furthermore, the unit’s stereo microphone was able to pick up audio well, with sound coming out from both channels.

Photos and videos taken can then be displayed on any television set using the multi-output stand. It is supplied with an AV cable but is also compatible with HDMI (sold separately).

 


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Battery life may be sufficient for casual users who would like to take photos now and then, but for travellers who are out on tour for the whole day, 160 shots may not be enough. Additional batteries are therefore a must if one wants to maximise camera usage.

While the Sony Cyber-shot T500 can shoot good HD videos, it was unable to provide us with remarkable images. And that, for us, is the deal breaker as it is supposed to be more of a digital camera than a video recorder. If you want a camera that sports a similar look to the T500, then you are better off getting the T700 or the T77 instead. But if you are willing to shell out $649 for a camera that can take HD videos and clear shots at low ISOs, then you are more than welcome to take the plunge.

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500 Specifications

Image Sensor: 10.1MP
Image Stabilisation: Optical SteadyShot
Precision Digital Zoom: 10x
Optical Zoom: 5x
F Number: 3.5-4.4
Focal Length (35mm conversion): 5.8-29.0mm(33-165mm)
Lens Type: Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar

Image Processor: Yes (Not BIONZ)
Auto Focus Area: Multi Points (9 Points), Centre Weighted, Flexible Spot, Semi Manual (1m/3m/7m/Infinity)
Auto Focus Method: Single, Monitoring
Macro Auto Focus Range: W: 8cm-Infinity, T: 80cm-Infinity
Auto Focus Range: W: 50cm-Infinity, T: 80cm-Infinity

Aperture Range: Auto (F3.5-F10)/Program auto (F3.5-F10)
Other: Self Timer (10 sec./2 sec.), Function Guide, Home Button, Direct Playback Button, Auto Daylight Syncro, Histogram Indicator, Hand Shake Alert
Smile Shutter: No
Face Detection: Yes
Dynamic Range Optimiser: No
White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1 (White Fluorescent Lighting), Fluorescent 2 (Natural White Fluorescent Lighting), Fluorescent 3 (Day White Fluorescent), Incandescent, Flash
Exposure Compensation: (+/- 2.0EV, 1/3EV step)
Light Metering: Multi Pattern, Centre Weighted, Spot
ISO Sensitivity: Auto/80/100/200/400/800/1600/3200
Shutter Speed: Auto(1/4-1/1000)/Program auto(1″-1/1000)

Flash Range: ISO Auto: 0.15-3.5m(W) / 0.8-2.7m(T), ISO 3200: up to 7.2m(W) / 5.5m(T)
Flash Mode: Auto, On, Slow Synchro, Off

Intelligent Scene Recognition (ISCN): No
Colour Mode / Picture Effects: Normal, Vivid, Natural, Sepia, B&W
Scene Selection: Auto Adjustment, Program Auto, Movie, High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, High Speed Shutter

 

LCD: 3.5″ TFT (Clear Photo LCD Plus)

Burst Mode: 1.4 fps
Image Playback and Editing: Rotate, Zoom (8x Digital), Trimming, Multi Resizing, Red Eye Correction, Partial Colour, Slide Show with Music, Slideshow, Protect.
Recording Formats: JPEG/MPEG1
Recording Modes: Normal, Burst, AE Bracketing
MOVING IMAGE RECORDING
HD Movie 720p: 1280×720, 30fps, progressive
VGA: 640×480, 30fps

PictBridge Compatible: Yes
Other Connections: Multi-use Terminal – USB, AV Out, DC in
USB 2.0 Connection: Yes (Auto (Multi Configuration), Mass Storage, PictBridge, PTP)

Internal Memory: 4MB
Body Material: Metal
Supplied Battery: 180shots/90 mins (approx.)

Accessories: Lithium Ion Battery (NPBD1), Battery Charger, USB Cable, A/V Cable, Wrist Strap, Multi-output Stand
Software: Windows: Picture Motion Browser, USB Driver; Mac: USB Driver

Dimensions (WxHxD): 97.0mm x 59.3mm x 21.4mm
Weight (without accessories): 155g (180g with battery + MS duo)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500 |$649 |  | www.sony.com.au

For: Build; Ease of use; Large screen; Simple interface; Zoom; HD Video Recording
Against: Too much noise when set above ISO 400; Poor battery life; Memory card not included
Conclusion: The T500 is more of a video recorder than a still camera.

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