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Sony DSC T33 Digital Camera Review (pics, specs)
by Andrew -  2/28/2005

The Sony DSC-T33 continues the Sony Cybershot T line of popular thin styled point and shoot digital cameras.  The Sony T33 sports a 5.1 MegaPixel image capture, 3x optical zoom and 2x digital (for 6x digital zoom overall), a gorgeous 2.5-inch Clear Photo LCD screen for easy outdoor viewing, Sony Real Imaging Processor for fast shutter speeds and 640 x 480 resolution 30 frame per second video capture all crammed into a 17.3 millimeter thin body that's smaller and lighter than a pack of playing cards.  This camera should please those demanding quality image capture, ease of carrying and style conscious shutter bugs.

Sony CyberShot DSCT33

Let's first take a look at the specifications for this digital camera, if you don't understand what some of this stuff means then don't let your eyes glaze over or run away, just move onto the actual review conent as it's written in layman's terms!

Sony CyberShot T33 Specs

Design and Build

A small folktale is in due order here -- in 1994 Sony manager Shizuo Takashino was told by his staff that Sony's new videocamera couldn't get any smaller because there was no more space inside to eliminate, he challenged them to dunk it in a bucket of water. If bubbles come out of the camera, there's still room to trim he argued.  The engineers went on to create a camcorder the size of a Japanese passport.  It's likely that some product manager did the same thing to the group of engineers responsible for producing the T33.

At an average slimness of 17.3mm (about 3/4 inch) the CyberShot T33 is well described as skinny.  Placing this camera in your pants or shirt pocket is very doable, and since your wallet may be slightly skinnier after buying this camera then go ahead and put the wallet and T33 in the same pocket, they'll fit.  With the battery in this device weighs 5.3 ounces.  That's light enough that you won't feel the weight in your pocket even.

If you're worried the camera might get beat up being in a pocket area, then your concerns should be allayed somewhat by the fact this camera has a metallic body that absolutely will not flex.  Tempting as it might be knowing the camera is small and rugged, don't put it in your back pocket where it'll get sat on because the LCD is not covered and it'd be a shame to crack that 2.5" beauty.

The Sony T33 sports a 2.5" diagonal LCD that makes for easy viewing and framing of pictures

The T33 comes in either silver or blue color.  I went for the blue color T33 because I'm kind of tired of having silver colored gadgets to be honest.  The blue offered is a subtle metallic light blue and not a loud garish neon or navy blue.

The Vario-Tessar lens is specially produced for compact cameras and provides rapid auto focus with 3x zoom, and additional 2x zoom gives an overall 6x zoom. The nice thing about this lens is that it does not need to extend for usage, with a point and shoot style camera this is good because the less moving parts the less likely something is to break.

Image Quality and Picture Taking

With a 5.1 MegaPixel image capture you'll be able to generate photo-quality 13 x 17 prints.  The nice thing about the extra pixels over say a 3.2 MP camera is that you can crop images and still be able to make decent sized photo quality prints from the cropped image.  When you're an amateur photographer and need room to make mistakes when taking a picture, this is much appreciated!

Built-in scene selection modes make it easy to quickly jump to a pre-configured shutter speed and exposure that'll get the right image capture.  If you're on the ski slopes and have lots of light being reflected then jump to the "Ski" mode capture setting using the menu selection on the LCD display, if you're at a fireworks display and want a picture of explosions in the night sky then there's a setting for that too.  Heck, there's even a setting for what Sony calls "child's birthday party" (assuming grown ups don't have cake and candles I guess).

The Sony Real Imaging Processor provides a very fast startup time for this camera, enhanced color reproduction, improved signal to noise ratio that all combine to give you the ability to fire up the camera fast and take clean pictures.  The start up time really is great, after pushing power on this camera it's ready to start shooting pictures in about a second.

Below are some example pictures captured using the Sony CyberShot DSC-T33, the medium sized images are about .2MB and 648 x 486 while the large sized images are about .4MB and 1296 x 972.  A full sized image taken by the T33 at fine capture results in a 2.0MB file or greater and such a size is prohibitive to our bandwidth and so has not been included:

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Cradle Dock and Accessories

The T33 comes with a cradle dubbed the "CyberShot Station" by Sony.  This cradle is what you'll use to house the camera in while charging.  The cradle also provides USB, printer and TV out ability when the camera is docked.

The cradle itself is actually kind of a letdown, it's fairly ugly, white and made of plastic so it simply doesn't live up to the high design standard set by the actual T33.

Also included with the T33 in the box is an AC adaptor for charging, rechargeable Li-Ion battery, wrist strap, camera holder for tripod, a CD containing Picture Package, Image Mixer and USB drivers, Audio Video cables and a USB connectivity cable.

Memory Storage

The T33 uses the small form factor Memory Stick Duo.  The camera comes with an adaptor so that you can slot the memory stick duo into card readers built only to support the original Memory Stick format.  The camera also comes with a 32MB card for storage.  You'll fit about 12 images on this size card, what a joke, Sony knows you'll need to buy a larger card so might as well factor in having to buy a $70 512MB card to fit in this camera.  Look to a manufacturer such as SanDisk to get better prices on memory sticks rather than Sony who sells memory sticks at a much higher price.

Who Should Buy This?

The T33 retails for $449, which is actually $50 less than the first T series device, the T1, first retailed at.  Having said that, the camera is well above the sweet spot of $199 that many buyers are willing to spend.  You're certainly paying extra for the slim and compact design, fantastic LCD display and new technologies found in this camera.

You can get a camera such as the Canon A95 that has a similar 5.0 MP resolution and 3x optical zoom for $150 cheaper at $299.  The Canon A95 is too thick to put in a pocket though and the LCD display is only 1.8".

Because of this cost difference the Sony T33 should really be purchased by somebody that places a high-value on light weight and easy to transport devices.  Style conscious folks will also value the T33 look over the rest of the competition's offerings.  Also realize that the T33 does not have a viewfinder, you have to use the LCD to frame your shots -- but this is what many people do anyway with point and shoot style cameras.

Pros

Cons

Pricing and Availability