02nd Mar 2006

Sony Digital Camera, DSC-P32, DSC-P72 & DSC-F717

Although Sony has an impressive background in entertainment electronics, it has no experience in the analog camera world. Sony remains a leader in the digital camera market. With 11 current models, 28 discontinued ones, and prices ranging from $199 to $799, there’s a Sony for everyone’s budget and needs.

When Sony’s first models hit the stores they used a standard 3.5″ floppy disk to store their images. The size of the camera was just about the size of a disk drive, and it was no wonder. Even so, it was wildly popular and might very well be responsible for igniting the digital camera craze that’s burned out of control ever since.

Entry Level Sony

Sony DSC-P32

Sony DSC-P32 3.3MPThe DSC-P32, also known as the Cyber-shot®, has a 3.2-Megapixel resolution capability and comes with a 3.2x digital zoom lens. With a street price around $199, it is a basic, low-cost digital camera for the novice or young children. It was one of my favorites in this Sony digital camera review article.

If you even think that you may be taking a lot of zoom pictures then you should know that a digital zoom lens provides a much poorer quality image than the optical zoom lens that is found on the higher priced cameras.

This camera uses your PC’s USB 2.0 port to download pictures held in the included 16MB removable Memory StickT. It also has five scene modes, and 3 auto-focus options, to help you get the best results possible under many conditions. A 1.6″ LCD screen lets you keep an eye on the action and view your pictures instantly.

Mid Level Sony

Sony DSC-P72

Sony DSC-P72 3.3MPIf your budget can afford an additional $100, the DSC-P72, with a $299 street price, is a good intermediate-level camera. Its features match those of the lower priced DSC-P32 almost exactly with one important difference: It is the lowest price Sony that includes the better performing optical zoom lens in place of the digital zoom.

Moving out of the 3.2 megapixel range, into the 5.0 range, requires you to spend at least $375 for the DSC-P92. This model sports a 3x optical zoom as well as a 4x digital zoom. It also includes a 16MB Memory StickT, USB 2.0 port capability, and a pretty impressive multi-point auto focus that offers sharply-focused shots even in low light conditions.

Top of the Line Sony

Sony DSC-F717

Sony DSC-F717 5.2MPThe camera that plays King of the Hill in this Sony digital camera review is easily the The DSC-F717. Selling for around $799, it is the most expensive Sony currently available. It has a Carl ZeissT Vario Sonnar lens packing a 5x optical zoom and a 2x digital zoom, Sony’s famous NightShot Infrared illumination system, 5 custom picture effects, a 32MB MemoryStickT, and USB 2.0 support. If all of that isn’t good enough, they’ve included auto and manual focus, program and manual exposure, JPEG and TIFF file formats, ISO range of 100-800, Sony InfoLithium battery, and movie mode with sound. With that huge lens hanging off the front of the camera, it’s weight and size might be a bit much for the casual snapshot hunter however.

The 32MB Memory Stick included with the Sony DSC-F717 can only store 12 images at the camera’s highest JPEG resolution. You should seriously consider purchasing at least a 64MB Memory Stick, allowing the storage of approximately 24 best-quality JPEG images. User reviews at Amazon, BizRate, CNET, Digital Photography Review, and PC Photo Review all have the DSC-F717 checking in with 4 1/2 to 5 Stars. No one has anything bad to say about this camera.

Sony’s rich history in consumer electronics really shows in their entire camera line. All models reviewed in the Sony digital camera review are all as compact as they can be, good looking, and have that solid feel that a camera should have when you pick them up. Sony has a network of repair facilities and a very responsive customer service department. From Televisions to cameras, Sony is always a safe bet.

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