We loved the Sony DSC-V3 camera released back in late 2004, and had hopes that the new H3 would be an upgrade to this fine camera, noting the increased zoom range (up to a whopping 10x) and a pixel count nudged slightly up to eight megapixel resolutions.
Despite its cosmetic similarities to the V3, it turns out that the Sony DSC-H3 is a low cost affair serving as an entry point to the Cyber-shot H-series, which currently consists of the the DSC-H7 and DSC-H9 models.
The H3 touts a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar branded 10x optical zoom lens which starts at a disappointing 38mm wide angle and zooms out to an impressive 380mm telephoto, backed by Sony’s Super Steady Shot image stabilization to minimise camera shake blur. Decent optical image stabilisation is more or less essential when you’re shooting at the far end of the zoom, and Sony’s system has a good reputation.
Photos can be reviewed and previewed on a 2.5″, 115,000 pixels LCD display but there’s sadly no optical viewfinder to be found, only a rather incongruously placed ‘Play’ button taking the place of the optics on the camera’s back.
The H3 includes face detection technology – something apparently no camera can be without these days – which automatically sets the camera’s exposure, autofocus, white balance and flash metering to grab the optimum mugshot. There’s also an advanced sports shooting mode which uses predictive continuous autofocus and high shutter speeds to grab that important Cardiff City winner.
Onboard is Sony’s Bionz image processor – as seen in their excellent Alpha digital SLRs – which the company promises will offer improved image quality, faster response times, and a superior battery life from the proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery.
Sony are doggedly sticking with their punter-deterring Memory Stick Duo / PRO Duo card slot (come on fellas – use the SD card like everyone else and spare us having to keep on buying different cards) and there’s 31MB of built in memory.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H3 will be shipping in early September 2007 and comes in black or silver, and is expected to retail at around $300.
Sony DSC-H3 specs
Sensor Type 1/2.5″ CCD, 8.29 megapixels (total), 8.01 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Aspect Ratio 4:3, 16:9
Image Dimensions 3264 x 2448 (8.0 megapixels), 3264 x 2176 (7.1 megapixels), 2592 x 1944 (5.0 megapixels), 2048 x 1536 (3.1 megapixels), 1920 x 1080 (2.1 megapixels), 640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Image Preview / Review
LCD 2.5″, 115,000 pixels
Playback Zoom 5.0x max
Lens Type Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar, 10x optical zoom
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length 6.3 – 63.0mm (actual), 38 – 380mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/3.5 (wide) / f/4.4 (tele) – f/10.0
Focusing System 9-point with AF assist lamp
Focusing Range Normal: 20″ – infinity (50 cm – infinity)
Macro: 0.8″ – infinity (2.0 cm – infinity)
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Shutter Speed 30 – 1/2000 second
Exposure Modes Program, Manual
Metering Modes Multi Pattern, Center Weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor – Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Flash
Internal Flash Modes: Auto, Auto w/ Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Forced Flash w/ Red-eye Reduction, No Flash, Slow Syncro, Slow Syncro w/ Red-eye Reduction
Range: Wide: 0.2 – 7.0 m; Tele: 0.9 – 5.6 m
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Creative Scene Modes Twilight, Twilight portrait, Soft snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, High Sensitivity, Advanced Sports Shooting
Digital Zoom 20x
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 10 seconds
Time Lapse No
Movie Format MPEG-1 with audio
Storage Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Built-in
File Format JPEG (EXIF v2.21)
Connectivity Video Yes, Computer USB 1.1, Other DC Input
Power Battery Type Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary NP-BG1 InfoLithium
Product Bundle Battery / Charger 1 x proprietary NP-BG1 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory 31.0MB built-in memory
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
Internal Microphone Yes
Internal Speaker Yes
Tripod Mount Yes
Remote Control No
Dimensions 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9″, 106.0 x 68.5 x 47.5mm
Weight 380.0 g, 13.3 oz