Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      An attractive, well-built slimline camera with built in album functions, excellent video capabilities and a large touch screen.A higher-resolution (10-megapixel) upgrade to the DSC-N1 model, Sony’s new Cyber-shot DSC-N2 boasts a slightly larger sensor than its predecessor but retains the same retracting Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3x optical zoom lens and 3-inch LCD display. The touch-sensitive screen is used for adjusting most controls and icons are large enough to be easily read. Like the N1 model, the new camera is designed both for picture taking and as a picture album and supports the same display functions. . . [more]

      Full review


      A higher-resolution (10-megapixel) upgrade to the DSC-N1 model, Sony’s new Cyber-shot DSC-N2 boasts a slightly larger sensor than its predecessor but retains the same retracting Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3x optical zoom lens and 3-inch LCD display. The touch-sensitive screen is used for adjusting most controls and icons are large enough to be easily read. Like the N1 model, the new camera is designed both for picture taking and as a picture album and supports the same display functions.
      The default setting for image capture saves two copies of each image, one at the selected resolution and another ‘minimised’ copy in the on-board album, where it can be easily called up for display. Twenty-five megabytes of on-board storage is provided, along with a Memory Stick Duo expansion slot – but no memory card (although an MS Duo to MS adaptor is provided so you can download images via a card reader or make prints via a printer with memory card slots). You can store up to 500 reduced-size pictures in the album – or, if you turn off the auto-albuming, up to five high-resolution JPEG images.
      In album mode, once the storage is full, the oldest non-protected shot is automatically deleted as each new shot is recorded. From the album you can display slideshows with background music, which can come either from a selection stored in the camera or your own music. This can be converted to MPEG1 format with the supplied software and replace the four selections that come with the camera. Transition effects like pans, zooms, wipes and fades can be added automatically be the camera.
      Like the N1 model, the N2 offers a surprising number of user-controlled adjustments, including a Manual exposure mode that lets you select from three lens aperture settings and a shutter speed range that extends from 1/2000 second right out to 30 seconds. Few slimline cameras can match this capability. ISO sensitivities range from 64 up to 1600 and, even though manual white balance measurement is not provided, there are enough pre-sets to cover most situations.
      For novice users, eight scene pre-sets are provided, among them an ISO-boost anti-blur setting. Four colour modes are also supported: Vivid, Natural, B&W and Sepia. Changing camera settings is as easy as it was on the N1 and you don’t really need the supplied stylus to make adjustments. Simply tapping the icon with your fingertip is usually enough to open sub-menus and change settings. Icons can be difficult to see in bright conditions, however, and the screen loses visibility when you view it through polarizing glasses, particularly in vertical orientation.
      The N2 offers the same Spot AF function as its predecessor; simply touch the area you wish to focus on and the camera makes it happen! Alternatively, you can choose between Single and Monitor AF modes, the latter continuously adjusting the focus until the shutter button is half pressed. The battery is also the same slim NPBG1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery and Sony claims it provides power for up to 300 shots under CIPA standard testing.
      All the standard playback facilities are provided, including a small histogram display that has to be called up via the Display button. The same Paint function as provided on the N1 is also offered on the new model, allowing users to ‘draw’ on a picture with either the stylus or a fingertip. A range of ‘pens’ and stamps is provided for additional decorating and you can choose from 10 colour options. It takes a while to become accustomed to the amount of pressure you need to obtain optimum results.
      Bundled software includes Sony’s Picture Motion Browser (Windows only). Music Transfer and GPS Image Tracker plus an online handbook and product registration facility. Picture Motion Browser is a pretty standard browser with basic editing capabilities plus facilities for printing and emailing images and slideshow creation. Almost any image browser will open the JPEG image files.
      Like other Sony digicams, the N2 offers excellent video facilities, with an MPEG VX movie function that records VGA clips at 30 fps. You need a Memory Stick Pro Duo card to use this function and you can record to the capacity of the card (up to 12 minutes and 20 seconds with a 1GB card). In standard mode, VGA clips are recorded at 1.6. fps and you can fit just over a minute in the internal memory. There’s also a QQVGA setting for video emails.

      The test camera produced well-exposed pictures with excellent sharpness and well-controlled saturation. Chromatic aberration was low and we found no evidence of coloured fringing in outdoor shots. The auto white balance setting managed to correct fluorescent lighting casts better than incandescent lighting but the manual pre-sets provided much better correction with incandescent lights. Few artifacts were found in digital zoom shots and close-up performance was impressive. Movie quality was well above average at the highest resolution setting.
      Imatest confirmed our subjective assessments, showing the camera to be capable of high resolution, although we detected a slight fall-off in resolution from ISO 400 on. Low-light performance was very good for a compact digicam but we found the expected image noise at high ISO settings. Pattern noise became visible at ISO 400 and colour noise obvious by ISO 1600. The flash provided enough light to illuminate an average-sized room at ISO 100. Flash recycle time averaged just over four seconds.
      It took just under two seconds to power-up the camera and extend the lens and roughly the same time to shut the camera down. Shot-to-shot times averaged 1.7 seconds. We measured an average capture lag of 0.35 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. The continuous shooting mode recorded three 10M/Fine JPEG images at 1.2 second intervals and it took just on four seconds to clear the buffer memory.

      Summing Up
      The price of the DSC-N2 is rather high for a slimline, 3x optical zoom digicam but, if you’re looking for the combination of high-resolution camera plus portable image display platform, the N2 is one a very few models to choose from. It’s strongly built – although neither waterproof nor shockproof. However, the large LCD is easily finger-marked in the course of normal use so you’ll need to buy a case and cleaning cloth to keep it in pristine condition.







      Digital zoom.


      A roughly 20% crop from a long exposure (8 seconds) at ISO 400.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.




      Image sensor: 7.6 x 5.7 mm Super HAD CCD with 10.3 million photosites (10.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 7.9-23.7mm f2.8 – 5.4 zoom lens (38-114mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 6x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ MPEG Movie VX (VGA at 30/16.6 fps, QQVGA at 8.3 fps)
      Image Sizes: 3648 x 2736, 3648 x 2432, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480
      Shutter speed range: Auto -1/8-1/2000 sec.; Program auto – 1-1/2000 sec.; Manual – 30-1/1000 sec.
      Image Stabilisation: ISO boost
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2.0 EV in 1/3-step increments
      Focus system/range: TTL Autofocus; range 50cm to infinity; macro ““ 6 cm to infinity
      Exposure metering/control: Multi Pattern, Centre Weighted, Spot metering; Auto, P and M modes plus 8 Scene modes and 4 Picture Effects
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Forced-Flash, Slow Synchro, No Flash; range 0.2-4.8m (W), 0.34-2.5m (T)
      ISO range: Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 (equivalent)
      Sequence shooting: 3 shots (10MP) in approx 1.6sec
      Storage Media: 25MB internal memory plus Memory Stick Duo expansion slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch, 230,000-pixel, Hybrid Clear Photo LCD Plus Touch Screen
      Power supply: NPBG1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 96.7 x 61.1 x 22.7mm
      Weight: 151g (without battery and card)





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