As soon as I saw information released about this camera, I knew instantly I wanted to get my hands on it; it looked awesome and the specifications mentioned seemed incredibly impressive for a camera it's size, so when I finally got it(which of course made a big hole in my credit card), I was super excited to play around with the features and see what it could actually do and if it would live up to the expectations Sony had created about this camera. First impressions were definitely positive, it looks remarkably suave and holding the camera itself I found it to be really comfortable even though it only has one grip which is located precisely for your thumb. I personally think they got a good balance between grip and style, because if they had added any more grip it would have ruined that nice sleek design it has, for example if you take a look at the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V, you will see it has a huge grip which whilst gives maximum grip it does overwhelm the side of the camera. Included in the box are the following: Camera | AC adapter | Battery pack | Micro USB cable | Wrist strap | Two shoulder strap adapters | Manual. Things you NEED: SDHC Card (You can choose a different brand/memory capacity, though do remember as this is a 20MP camera, files sizes average around 5MB if your using Jpeg in fine detail, or is around 20MB if using the RAW format (RAW image has a '.ARW' file extension)). Optional: Camera Case (LCJ-RXA) | USB SDHC Card Reader | Spare Battery NP-BX1 | HDMI - Micro HDMI cable | Anti-reflective Screen Protector. - - - The main thing I love about this camera is it has modes which are great for people who don't have a lot of knowledge about cameras and just want to point and shoot whilst getting great results, and there are modes for those who know more about cameras and want to go more in-depth with the settings. The modes which I personally think are great for those with limited camera knowledge, I would suggest using the mode dial located on top of the camera to choose one of the following: 1) Superior Auto; "This device beautifully shoots automatically while reducing blurring and noise". My opinion: I've always had great results with this mode, on most occasions it takes the picture I want it to, though sometimes you may want select a mode in the scene setting to get a little bit extra. 2) Intelligent Auto; "Automatically identifies the scene's characteristics and shoots a photo". My opinion: Pretty much the same scenario with the superior auto, it takes fantastic shots most of the time, though I haven't really noticed the difference between both of them, this may be because I haven't had the chance to test them in many varied locations. 3) Scene Selection; Here you can select different pre-setting modes to get the most out of certain scenarios: - Portrait; "Emphasizes subject by blurring away background. Reproduces soft skin tone". - Anti Motion Blur; "Reduces blur indoors with poor lighting or for telephoto shooting to obtain clear images". - Sports Action; "Shoots fast motion at higher shutter speeds". - Pet; "Shoots pets and other subjects in movement to reduce blur". - Gourmet; "Shoots food to look delicious". - Macro; "This mode is best suited for shooting close-ups of small subjects such as flowers and food in clear and sharp focus". - Landscape; "Shoots the entire range of scenery in a sharp focus with vivid colours". - Sunset; "Vividly expresses and dramatically captures the redness of dusk and dawn". - Night Scene; "Shoots night scenes clearly. Recommend using tripod". - Hand-held Twilight; "Suitable for shooting a night scene without using a tripod". - Night Portrait; "Automatically fires the flash to illuminate foreground subjects and engages slow shutter to capture background night scenes". - Fireworks; "Shoots beautiful fireworks without flash". - High Sensitivity; "Reduces blur even without using flash". You can select different scene modes by twisting the mode dial back and forth or go to photo tab 5 which is located within the menu. My opinion: You have such a good amount of different options to choose from. Not only does the camera explain the best situation to use such scenes, but also shows a picture to give you a better idea of what scene they should be used in. I've had some great shots with the hand-held twilight setting, whilst I don't get perfect shots all the time, it has produced better results than all my previous cyber-shot cameras combined! I also really like the portrait mode. There is one option not on the list from previous models and that is the "Picture Effect" mode, this has been moved into the menu or can be selected via the function button (if selected), I would have preferred it to be in the scene selection, but that may be because I'm used to it being there. 4) Sweep shooting; "Creates a panoramic image while you move the camera left/right or up and down at a fixed speed". You can adjust the settings by going into the menu on photo tab 1. My opinion: This is one of my favourite features on the camera that produces truly amazing panoramic results. 5) Movie; Choose from the following movie modes: - Program Auto; "Auto movie shooting where aperture and shutter speeds are automatic, and other features can be set as desired". - Aperture Priority; "Adjusts aperture to change focus range and background defocus". - Shutter Priority; "Manually adjusts speed to control how moving subjects are captured". - Manual Exposure; "Adjusts aperture and shutter speed manually". You do have the ability to duel record (take pictures whilst recording) however it's important to note that it's disabled whilst recording in AVCHD format '50p/60p 28M(PS)', so if you do want to take full advantage of this feature, make sure your on '50i/60i 24M(FX)', '50i/60i 17M(FH)' or are recording through the MP4 format. When taking pictures whilst recording, you will NOT hear the shutter sound, instead you till see a message on the screen stating "captured", this is to ensure the shutter noise is not recorded. Also note that you don't have to be in the movie mode to start recording, you can start recording on most modes/settings by clicking the record button as you would do normally. My opinion: When recording in the best quality the output is phenomenal, the video is so smooth and it focuses on things very well. To be honest if it wasn't for the fact that my camcorder has so much more zoom than this camera, I would use this camera instead and scrap my camcorder! - - - For those who understand a bit more about camera settings, you will be pleased to have several modes available for you to use: 1) Program Auto; "Automatically sets aperture and shutter speed. Other settings can be set as desired". 2) Aperture Priority; "Adjusts aperture to change the range in focus and amount of background blur. Small value blurs front and back, large value makes even background in focus". 3) Shutter Priority; "Adjusts shutter speed manually for different effects of moving subjects. Faster speeds to appear stopped momentarily. Slower speed to capture traces of movement". 4) Manual Exposure; "Adjusts aperture and shutter speed manually". 5) Memory recall; This setting lets you go in-depth with pretty much every setting, you can save up to three profiles which you can quickly select for later usage. This will be a favourite for a lot of people so they don't have to manually set everything all over again. My opinion: I wouldn't classify myself as someone who knows a lot about in-depth camera settings, but thanks to the camera guide which you can pop-up by clicking the "?" button, it's given me some really good simple yet detailed tips to get me started. I still think it will be awhile before I understand these settings fully, however I'm certain I will get there at some point, it just takes persistence. - - - The menu system is a lot different from the previous cyber-shot cameras I've owned, previously when you click "Menu", you get a quick menu system on the left hand side to where you can fiddle around with the settings quickly or choose to go into the proper settings menu, however with this camera it goes straight into one menu where you can browse everything. This for me is something I had to get used to as it is different, however they do have pictured tabs which make it easy to navigate. Another feature which is new to me is the function button labelled "Fn", this button lets you navigate through 7 different options that can be changed to your liking via the menu system. Quick options you can select are: Exposure Comp | Focus Mode | Autofocus Area | ISO | Drive Mode | Metering Mode | Flash Mode | Flash Comp | White Balance | DRO/Auto HDR | Creative Style | Picture Effect | Soft Skin Effect | Quality | Image Size | Smile/Face Detect | Aspect Ratio | Not Set. On the front of the camera, there is a ridged ring called the "control ring", depending on what you select it to do, it can be used to quickly change the aperture or shutter levels, zoom or even navigate through different modes. Personally, I welcomed this new feature and have found it to be very helpful at times. The flash is also really good, it pops out automatically when needed, however you will have to manually push it down when you're not going to use it as it's on a springy device. - - - *Helpful information: When transferring files, if you're using the USB lead provided, make sure when it's connected you turn the camera on, otherwise it wont recognise the camera is connected. Personally I would recommend getting an USB SDHC Card Reader, it's so much faster to navigate through files and delete the ones not needed, you can then copy and paste the desired photos onto your computer within seconds. Pictures are located in the "DCIM" folder. Videos can be found by going through folders; "PRIVATE" - "AVCHD" - "BDMV" - "STREAM". One other important bit of information I need to share is for those wanting to use the RAW files this camera produces, you will need to download this special piece of software: Image Data Converter Ver4.1, you get a choice to download it for Windows or Mac. - - - So far I've had nothing but good experiences with this camera, the size is decent, it's comfortable to hold and it performs very well. It produces photos with amazing depths of field without the need of using a background defocus mode, which can be found on previous models. Another important factor is it's user friendly to both beginner and more experienced photographers. For what this camera lacks in zoom, it makes up in picture quality and although it is available with a premium price tag, your not going to find another camera available of such size and cost that delivers such outstanding results, so for that reason I would highly recommend this camera.
The BEST compact camera I've had to date
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