Just when it seemed we surely must have reached the end of the parade of current digital ultrazooms, here comes the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50.
Announced back in February, the camera shipped in May and so is a fairly recent addition to this market segment. A market segment to which the H50 brings a relatively modest 15x Carl Zeiss zoom lens. Since when is a 15x zoom modest? Since four competing brands all pack 18 or 20x zooms (and it's probably only a matter of time before brand five follows suit).
Still, the Sony offers a 31 to 465mm focal range in 35mm terms, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Here are shots at each end of that range:
The weather hasn't cooperated in the two days I've had the camera – I'm guessing a thick overcast at the beach had the auto ISO ramping up to help with the dark conditions, as image quality seemed to suffer a bit when viewed at 100 percent.
Inland shots in sunlight and indoor shots with flash looked better enlarged.
Shutter lag with focus acquired in daylight is good – in the vicinity of .05 to .06 seconds. Focus acquisition times seem about average for the class, and the camera is a bit slow to power up. Movie quality looks good and the lens may be zoomed through its entire focal range while capturing movies. Color rendition on still images looks accurate and pleasing, at least at the full auto settings.
The camera is nice ergonomically and seems of comparable material and build quality with others in the class. The battery "fuel gauge" has dropped to half after about 70 shots, so that's one area we'll be keeping a close watch on.
We'll have a complete DCR.com review of the H50 after much more extensive shooting – the camera has a host of features including a "night shot" capability that will require closer scrutiny, but for now it seems a worthy competitor in the class.