Everyone who I’ve handed Sony’s flagship Cyber-shot DSC-T200 ultra-compact to today has said two things. First, “That screen is huge!” Followed closely by, “This thing is heavy.” The T200’s 3.5-inch touchscreen certainly makes a big impression, and it’s this technology that has made this camera one of the most popular compacts of the year. With an 8.1 megapixel sensor and a 5x Zeiss-branded lens wrapped in a weighty brushed metal case that exudes high-tech, industrial style, first thoughts on the T200 are that it offers the goods – in terms of style, ruggedness, and image quality – to live up to the hype.
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At 6.4 ounces, the Sony isn’t significantly heavier than your average compact (a comparably sized competitor that felt much more “normal” weighed in around 5 ounces). It’s more that the camera feels dense, like a well-made, precise, substantial piece of equipment.
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The touchscreen is definitely the star here, though. Having adjustment for the key shooting parameters literally under your fingers makes Sony’s often deeply layered interfaces much easier to navigate. For a quick preview of the T200 and a walkthrough of how the touchscreen interface works, take a look at our preview video:
One of the most impressive features of the touch interface is the T200's touch-selectable focus: just touch any area of the screen to set the camera's focus point. Very easy to get perfect focus, and very cool.
Though testing is still ongoing, initial thoughts on image quality are positive. Even with its self-contained zoom unit, the diminutive Sony seems to be capable of pleasingly sharp images and nice dynamic range. The T200 doesn’t offer the level of manual control of some ultra-compacts, focusing instead on being a highly successful point-and-shoot with a novel interface. I'll wait until the full image tests are in to comment on whether the T200 has overcome concerns about visibly heavy noise reduction in the previous generation T100.
In short, while it's not likely to be the go-to choice for serious photographers seeking lots of manual control, familiar control layouts, and tack-sharp images, it looks like Sony has packed enough functionality and features into the T200 to appeal to gadget savvy users, in spite of its hefty price tag. Look for a full review of the T200 in the coming week.