Sony's latest touch screen ultracompact, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500, takes aim at sophisticated shooters seeking high-quality still image and video capture in a single, ultra-portable device.
Building on the foundation laid by Sony's long line of touch screen Cyber-shot T models, the T500 brings more advanced shooting features, 720p video recording, HDMI connectivity, and a more businesslike appearance to Sony's popular pocket cams.
Slightly more performance focused than some of its T-series forerunners, the T500 appears to primarily target the "innovation enthusiasts" segment, to borrow a turn of phrase from Sony. At the heart of this performance focus is Sony's 10.1 megapixel, 1/2.3-inch SuperHAD CCD sensor, coupled with a 5x, 33-165mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom lens.
Sony's market research for the new Cyber-shot T models has also suggested that while optical image stabilization wasn't among the most requested features for potential new camera buyers, a majority of actual users found it useful in practice; hence, it's hardly surprisingly that a top-tier model would receive the manufacturer's Optical SteadyShot technology. High-sensitivity shooting to ISO 3200 further expands the T500's capabilities when light is scarce or action is fast.
The T500's touch panel is a wide-format (16:9 aspect ratio) 3.5-inch variant with 230,000 dots resolution. The screen is designed to allow for easy viewing, even in adverse lighting conditions.
As noted, the T500 offers high-def video capture at up to 1280x720 (720p) at 30 fps for clips of up to ten minutes in length. Unlike most digital still cameras, movie audio is captured in stereo via the T500's front-mounted stereo microphone; from this capture, the T500 generates MPEG-4 video files utilizing the AVC/H.264 codec, which combines small file sizes with support for high-quality video and stereo audio.
All of this emphasis on advanced video capture systems is well placed for a camera in the T500's market segment, according to Sony director of digital camera marketing Phil Lubell. "Our research revealed that people like to shoot video with their point-and-shoot cameras, but were very dissatisfied with the video quality and the resulting large files.
."Our new T500 fulfills this customer need for a digital camera that delivers high-quality movies in a small form factor."
Other key features include a face detection system capable of locking onto up to eight faces, Sony's advanced in-camera slide show tools that allow the addition of sophisticated shot-to-shot transitions and the incorporation of background music, and HDMI connectivity for easily getting playback to an HDTV.
The T500 carries a suggested retail price of around $400. Sony will begin accepting pre-orders for the new Cyber-shot on August 29, with actual retail delivery slated for September.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500 Specifications:
|Sensor||10.1 megapixel, 1/2.3" Super HAD CCD|
|Zoom||5x (33-165mm) Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar, f/3.5-4.4|
|LCD/Viewfinder||3.5", 230K-dot touch sensitive hybrid TFT LCD
|Shutter Speed||1-1/1000 seconds|
|Shooting Modes||Auto, Easy Auto, Program, Scene, Movie
High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Hi-speed Shutter, Smile Shutter, Gourmet, Auto Adjustment, Underwater
|White Balance Settings||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Flash, Underwater
|Metering Modes||Multi, Center, Spot|
|Focus Modes||Multi AF, Center AF, Spot AF, Flexible Spot AF, Focus Presets, Macro
|Drive Modes||Normal, Burst, Self Timer
|Flash Modes||Auto, Forced On, Slow Synchro, Forced Off|
|Self Timer Settings
||10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
|Memory Formats||Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo|
|File Formats||JPEG, MPEG|
|Max. Image Size||3648x2736
|Max. Video Size
||1280x720, 30 fps
|Zoom During Video||Yes
|Connections||USB 2.0, AV output (includes HDMI output), DC input|
|Additional Features||Face Detection, Smile Shutter, Bionz processor, touch screen interface, HD Slide Show with music, Optical SteadyShot|