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The Sony Cybershot DSC-P92 is a recent addition to Sony's ever-growing digital camera range. It is marketed as a point-and-shoot compact and doesn't offer some of the advanced features that other compacts in the Sony range do. We take a look to see if it is still worth considering.
Sony Cybershot DSC-P92 specifications
- 5.0 megapixel CCD
- 3x Optical Zoom Lens. f/2.8-5.6, 39-117mm (35mm equiv.)
- 1.5" LCD
- Compatible with Memory Stick and Memory Stick PRO.
- MPEG Movie VX
- Three Noise Reduction features
- ISO Auto/100/200/400 settings
- Burst Mode
- Conversion Lens Compatibility (with VAD-PEA)
- Uses AA batteries (NiMH batteries supplied)
Handling and controls
When you first switch on the DSC-P92, it takes approximately 2.3 seconds for the lens to extend and approximately another four seconds before you can actually take a shot, this is below average. The weight of the DSC-P92 helps give it a tough feel but also makes it one of the less portable compacts. The fit and finish of the buttons and compartment doors are very good and there's little chance of bits falling off!
The video-out, power-in and USB connections are cleverly hidden underneath the grey plastic handle area at the bottom right of the camera.
The tripod mount at the base of the camera is located at the far right of the camera, at the opposite end to the lens.
The LCD screen is on the small side at 1.5 inches and it looks like there is ample room on the body for a larger one.
Sony certainly know how to make an easy to use camera interface and any beginners should have no problems coming to grips with the DSC-P92.
When browsing the specifications for this camera on the Sony USA site, we noticed them mentioning it had USB 2.0. We thought this a little odd as there is no mention of the high speed USB connection on the box or in any other specification sheet. Apparently many other photography web-sites have been caught out by this and are listing the DSC-P92 as having USB 2.0 support. Well regardless of whether it does or as we suspect, doesn't, we did a speed test on both USB and USB 2.0 connections and found no discernible difference!
For what has seemed a long time Sony designed their cameras around a proprietary battery of their own. Now more of their cameras are coming out that accept the standard AA size and the DSC-P92 is just such a camera. Sony send the DSC-P92 out with two powerful Ni-MH rechargeable batteries and a charger, which is quite generous as many manufacturers offer just a feeble pair of Alkalines with their AA compatible cameras.
The DSC-P92 is one of the cheaper compact cameras in the Sony range and as such isn't gifted with one of the fabled Carl Zeiss lenses. We'll be looking at the quality this is capable of later in the review, but wanted to mention an odd quirk of the camera first. We mentioned earlier typical startup times but have found these can be increased further in some circumstances. After popping out the batteries, then putting them in again, there is a further delay of approximately five seconds before the lens starts to come out! So if you are in a rush to take a photo and needed to put in new batteries just bear in mind this extra delay! Subsequent to this discovery we found the same delay sometimes applied if the camera had been switched off for a long period before use.
There are no usability issues here, with the various options being quick to navigate. Sony have kept the DSC-P92 very simple, there's no histogram feature, custom white-balance setting and even the manual focusing system seems basic. This simplicity is a blessing if you want the easy life or could be annoying if you are after fine levels of control. This is more advanced than your average point and shoot camera, but it still lacks many of the manual features such as aperture and shutter control that many seasoned photographers might want.
|This main menu allows you to set the camera mode, there are seven options to choose from. You can also set Exposure compensation, Focussing mode, Metering Mode, White Balance, ISO, Image quality, Record mode, Flash level and special picture effects.|
|The setup menu lets you change the Movie Mode between MPEG Movie, ClipMotion and MultiBurst. ClipMotion creates a small animated GIF file and MultiBurst takes several small pictures in quick succession and they are placed onto one frame. You can turn on or off the Digital Zoom (dubbed Smart Zoom by Sony), Date/Time can be set and the RedEyeReduction and AF Illuminator turned on or off.|
|The speed of switching between images and zooming in on them is good. However there is no histogram function for checking the exposure levels of the photos you've taken, nor is there any information on the settings used when the photo was taken.|
Cameras like this DSC-P92 are now quite common and affordable, yet offer a good level of image quality that would have been unthinkable several years ago. Sony have pushed their technology further with each generation of products released and the DSC-P92 features not only several Noise Reduction features such as Clear Colour NR and Clear Luminance NR, but also a high quality video mode and of course the high resolution five megapixel CCD.
The autofocus system generally works well, though other competing cameras appear to be better in close-up focussing. Using the manual-focus was disappointing as there is no fine level of control and it's hard to see any difference between the settings on the small LCD screen. The multi-pattern metering system seems very capable and handled all the test shots we threw at it with aplomb.
All this equates to a point and shoot digital compact that should impress most people with bold colours and sharp details. The various Noise Reduction systems seem to do their job well and images display very little noise and are also sharp enough to allow a very detailed A4 print. Overall the DSC-P92 is certainly in the highest league of five megapixel digital cameras in terms of image quality alone.
Shown below is a 1:1 ratio crop of a section of the image above.
Shown below is a 1:1 ratio crop of a section of the image above.
The DSC-P92 is a good camera for those new to digital photography who don't want to be fiddling with aperture and shutter speeds but want to get consistently good results. It's very well priced for a five megapixel compact and is certainly one of the best value compact digital cameras available now.
Our only concerns are the occasionally slow startup times and that the lack of manual features may make this camera unsuitable for the keener digital photographers.
In summary the main positive points of the Sony Cybershot DSC-P92 are:
Good image quality
Easy to use
Good video facility
Negative points are:
Lens can be slow to extend
LCD is only 1.5"
No histogram feature
Limited manual controls
Manual focusing control is poor
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