A compact suitable for the keen snapper, the T100 is slim, stylish, will draw admiring glances and gets out of bed for less than £10,000. Is the T100 the next big thing?
Sony DSC T100 Specification
- Sensor: CCD - 8.1 Mp
- Image Size: 3264 x 2448 pixels
- Lens: 35-175mm f/3.5 - f/4.4 (5X zoom)
- Focus: 9 Area Multi-Point AF
- Exposure: Program AE / 9 modes
- Metering : Multi-Pattern/Center/Spot
- Monitor: 3in. TFT LCD
- Movie Mode: Yes
- Storage: 28Mb Internal, Memory Stick Duo and Pro Duo
- Batteries: InfoLithium Rechargeable
- AC Adaptor: Included
- Video Output: Yes - HD 1080
- Size/Weight: 92x59x22mm - 172g
- Transfer: USB 2.0
£289 will get you a the features above in a well built, solid camera. Comparisons in the price range are the Panasonic FX100 at £289 which will give you 12Mp, 3.6x optical zoom and a Leica lens or the Canon 950 IS for £259 with 8Mp and 4x optical zoom.
Sony DSC T100 Modes and features
Sliding down the protective cover of the Sony T100 will power it up, however it also has a power button situated on the top of the camera next to the playback button which can be used to switch the camera on for playback purposes meaning you don't have to expose the lens unnecessarily.
Available on the back is the zoom in the top right corner which is a little small, the Menu button, navigation pad for the menu which doubles up as Flash options, Macro, Self timer and Display. This allows you to switch information on or off the screen including the option of a histogram and adjusting the brightness.
The Menu button will fetch several options starting at the bottom and working up, which is a little odd, but different and not altogether unpleasant. I take it as another little fashionable quirk by Sony to look a little different. The options are clear and give explanations of what they are for. Setup is the first option on the menu which I thought would take you into the core options of the camera although there are not actually that many available. There are only two pages and the first page has just four options being AF illuminator, Grid line which gives a rule of thirds grid on the screen, AF mode and digital zoom. The second screen gives an auto orientation which rights the image in playback when it has been taken as a portrait instead of landscape and an auto review mode. Steadyshot is the next option and has three settings. The first one is to only activate when the shutter release button is only half way down and focusing and metering are taking place. I don't much see the point of this option except to allow you to see how much it works. The next Steadyshot option is to switch it on all the time and then to switch it off all the time. The Steadyshot incorporated into the T100 is Double anti-blur which uses both a gyro sensor to correct the lens with camera shake and also pushes the ISO rating to anything up to ISO3200 which allows for faster shutter speeds, but on the downside will cause noisier images.
Next option on the Menu is the White Balance override, Exposure Compensation, Image size which has a handy note telling you what size picture the quality rating can print to. This is great for if you are just taking a few snaps that you know will only go into the albums, you may want to set the image size lower to save space on your card for later and the camera will advise to just set to 3Mp, whilst if you are taking a picture of the family you may want to put on the wall, the camera says that 8Mp can go to A3. The final setting is scene selection which gives the options of High sensitivity which pushes the ISO up to help in low light situations, Portrait, Night portrait which switches the flash on, Night landscape with no flash, Landscape with infinity focus, Sports to freeze action, Beach and sea which boosts the blue in the image, Snow which is set to balance out whites and finally, Fireworks.
An unusual addition to the buttons is the Home button at the bottom of the camera which divides into five separate factions of Shooting, Playback, Printing, Manage memory and Settings. The Shooting area gives the options of Auto adjustment which does everything for you, Scene selection which is already in the menu, Program auto which overrides the standard auto allowing you to set the image size, Record mode which lets you choose from continuous shooting, Bracketing to 0.3 of a stop, 0.7 of a stop and a full stop, Colour mode allows changes to the colour of the image and choices are Vivid which saturates the image, Natural, Sepia and Black & white. The ISO can be set here ranging from ISO80 to ISO3200 and rising in the usual steps as well as Exposure compensation, Metering and focusing modes, White balance, Flash level allowing changes to the flash output, Red-eye reduction when faces are detected, on all the time or off all the time. The first option is again pointless like the Steadyshot option which is doubled up in this menu. The last option in the Shooting area is the Video mode. Moving over to the Playback area gives the options of viewing the images either as a single shot, indexed or as a slide show, which is a nice touch as it allows you to watch your pictures as a film with music too and in sepia or as a funky presentation. The printing option gives two features and they are the direct print tool and a music tool. The music tool allows you to download music for use in the slide show previously mentioned which is a great idea.
The memory area has only the one option which is to format the card which could easily be put into the Set up menu for instance. Finally in the Home option is the settings and this is the actual core of the camera and allows you to mess about with it. The settings are broken down into four areas and they are Main settings, Shooting settings, Clock settings and Language settings. The Main settings allow you to change the beep that sounds whenever a button is pressed. It has Function guide which takes off all those menu descriptions which is a fantastic feature and finally Initialise which resets all the factory defaults. The second page of the Main settins has USB connect which you can change from Auto to Mass storage or computer as we like to call it and Printer. The auto setting does this for you, so seems pointless, but if the camera does have problems, it could come in useful. Component allows the change of quality from HD to SD as the camera is HD ready for use on HD televisions. Bear in mind that the HD lead has to be used to benefit from this feature and Sony have, typically, not included the cable with the camera but is an optional extra. The final option on Main settings is Video out choosing between PAL and NTSC. The Shooting settings is the same as in the Menu, Clock settings allow the time and date to be changed and Language settings do what they say on the tin. What I don't like about the menus is that if you want to do more than one thing in different areas of the menu, once done, you have to exit the menu completely and go back in which is tiresome.
Confused yet? Well, the Playback mode also has some menu settings. Pressing Menu in Playback mode will bring up the option to Delete one, multiple or all images. Scrolling down gives the option of starting a slideshow, using in-camera effects like Soft focus which gives an effect similar to shallow depth of field by keeping one point chosen by you in focus and blurring the surrounding area. Partial colour which keeps the selected point in colour and fades the edges out to black & white, Fisheye lens distorting the image, Cross filter which will add starbursts to lights, Trimming and Red-eye correction. Other options in the Playback men are Lock image, DPOF, Print and Rotate.
Other features the camera provides are a 5x optical zoom which is good for a camera this size, but these types of slim compacts are already coming out with larger zooms. Face detection technology which will also track subjects in the screen and not only focuses on them, but sorts out the white balance and decides if flash is needed. This is done through Sony's BIONZ processor which is a contender to Canon's Digic, Panasonic's Venus and Fuji's Real Photo Processor which speeds up download, helps the face detection and boosts colour.
Sony DSC T100 Build and handling
The body is made of metal which gives a strong casing and the back of the camera is dominated by a giant sized 3in. LCD screen which has a standard 230,000 pixels and is bright with no motion blur. The lens as ever is supplied by Carl Zeiss and is the Vario-Tessar which is a lesser lens but will generally wipe the floor with what anyone else can provide. The camera is solid and the lens cover slides nicely with a bit of tension mid slide to stop the cover sliding over the lens easily. This would normally only happen with those pesky upside down shots, but as pictures are taken the fore finger rests on the cover and as the shutter is depressed, the fore finger instinctively grips tighter with the pressure and this moves the cover. There is a bit of metal to rest the finger on, but is only small and it's easy not to rest there which heightens the risk of the camera getting switched off.
The zoom button, as said before, is a little on the small side and the zoom is slow to respond. Focusing is fast and the Macro feature can get as close as 1cm when the close focus Macro is enabled. This is a great feature and Sony camcorders have had a near point blank focus range for a long time, so it's great to see them bringing this capability over to cameras.
Sony DSC T100 Flash options
Pressing the flash button which is the right button for the menu gives the options of Auto flash, Flash on to override the flash all the time, Slow synch flash which uses a burst of flash to light a subject then a slow shutter speed to light up dark backgrounds. The last option is Flash off to switch the flash off all the time regardless of how dark it is. The distance ranges are 0.1-3.7m at wide angle and 0.8-2.9m at full zoom. These results are a little disappointing for a camera with these types of features and especially for this price. The flash is only small and thin and I cannot help but think that Sony have sacrificed performance over style.
Sony DSC T100 Performance
The burst mode runs at a rate of 1.2fps but after ten shots, the camera downloaded and did not start shooting again unless I raised my finger from the shutter button and depressed it again so it can potentially take 12 images in 10 seconds depending on your reflexes.
The screen is bright and suffers minimal motion blur and the camera will be ready to take pictures 1.5 seconds after the cover has been slid down.
The landscape shot of the fayre underexposed the floor preferring to be overwhelmed by the sky although it wasn't very bright on the day. The zoomed in image of our Union flag being flown with pride by the local Army Cadets came out more balanced despite being surrounded by sky, but was still a little underexposed. These shots were taken as someone might take the pictures using fully auto. I could have changed the metering mode or used exposure compensation to some degree, but decided to see how the camera would handle the situation. The portrait mode handled the image well, but didn't warm skin tones as much as I'd like. I also tried a portrait in the Vivid colours and the results were horrible. The saturation is beyond a joke. Image of the lock came out nicely balanced with the winch showing plenty of detail and the sky not fringing into the building.
Sony DSC T100 Noise test
Their is good range on the T100 starting at just ISO80 and going through to ISO3200 which is used in conjunction with the Steadyshot, but can be selected in the ISO menu too.
Predictably, ISO80 gives good results with no noise and good detail to the petals as does ISO100. ISO200 shows a minor amount of noise and the colour of the petals is starting to saturate with ISO400 having distinct noise and the petals a brighter orange than the lower ratings. ISO800 shows more colour, but still displays detail in the petal and I would expect to see more noise than this in the image. At ISO1600 the image starts to drop off in quality with noise taking over and the petals paling out whilst the noise at ISO3200 breaks the straight lines of the grey card down so they are fuzzy. Despite this, the ISO results at ISO3200 are still some of the best I have ever seen. This is good news for the anti-blur feature which will be using these high ISO's to help the shutter speed.
The ISO80 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
The ISO3200 test.
Sony DSC T100 Verdict
The Sony DSC T100 is a capable camera with many features as well as a good looking sleek body with no external parts to snap off. The menu is vast, well set out and attractive to look at but splitting it down into two parts and labelling one as Home is unnecessary. I think the amount of features available made Sony think we might get put off in case it confused which to a degree it could and with some options doubled up, it's no wonder.
The camera is aimed at users who know their way around a camera, but don't want a big bulky one. The camera is very capable, has a good lens and the zoom is good for the size with the resolution and processor helping, some good photographs can be taken with it.
Sony DSC T100 Plus points
Carl Zeiss lens.
Lots of features.
1cm Macro mode.
Sony DSC T100 Minus points
Menu is very big and sometimes confusing.
The menu doesn't have a backtrack key.
The zoom button is a little small.
The Sony DSC T100 costs around £289 and is available in the ePHOTOzine shop here.