Sony Cyber-shot T10 £229.84
13th Feb 2007 | 00:00
A new model with more pixels and a sexy exterior
Upgrading last year's almost identical-looking Cyber-shot, the similarly flat-faced T10 snapshot brings another million pixels to the party, crammed on to the same physical size chip.
Just 21mm wide, it also boosts maximum light sensitivity from its predecessor's ISO 640 to ISO 1000 for low-light photography without flash, adding in optical image stabilisation (under the billing 'Super SteadyShot'), designed to avoid camera shake.
You also get a low-light Movie mode for the first time on a Sony. All this sets the T10 up as a rival to Canon's IXUS range and Fuji 'F' series compacts - the former now boasting real image stabilisation; the latter, increasingly high ISO speeds.
The slender T10 trumps the boxier Fuji in the style stakes, even if its brushed steel fascia and internally stacked 3x zoom lens fail to give Canon a true run for its money. A love-it-or-hate-it sliding faceplate maintains the minimalist feel, protects the T10's optics and powers up the camera when opened.
But there's a real danger of flipping it open and accidentally activating the T10 when sliding it into a bag or pocket. Still, the camera automatically powers down when left inactive and the lithium battery is good for an okay-ish 250 shots.
Done to a T
On the plus side, the T10 is well constructed and user-friendly. A bright and clear 2.5-inch LCD screen overshadows solid and responsive controls on the back, in the absence of an optical viewfinder. Usefully, the screen displays battery life remaining, and in both Capture mode and Playback a live histogram can be called upon to double-check exposure.
Shooting options within the menus are shown as an unobtrusive tool bar along the bottom of the screen that expands when you switch from Auto to Program setting. Selecting Set Up provides access to five more sub-folders, where the likes of digital zoom can be turned on/off; Super SteadyShot set to continuous, or activated at the point of capture only; and a memory card formatted.
Speed of performance can't be faulted - the T10 powers up in just under two seconds (officially 1.3 seconds). A full press of the lozenge-shape shutter button and a shot is taken with no discernable shutter delay, while committing a full resolution, maximum-quality image to optional Memory Stick Duo card or internal 56MB cache takes a speedy second.
Whereas so many digital compacts suffer from underexposure, the T10 goes the other way, with the result that daylight images look slightly washed out, with an inevitable loss of highlight detail.
Under bright sunshine it's difficult to avoid lens flare, while the positioning of the lens to the top right of the camera body means that users also have to guard against the occasional fingertip straying into shot. Pixel fringing is also noticeable between areas of high contrast, though it's less pronounced than on previous generations.
Unfortunately, image noise is visible even at the Auto default setting of ISO 320, though not infuriatingly so. Still, it's advisable to steer well clear of ISO 1000 unless there's really no other way you can achieve the shot you have in mind.
Sharp results are achievable, but images are often softer than we like, and it's difficult to be convinced that 7-megapixels offers any more genuine detail from the same chip than 6-megapixels.
Although the T10 is certainly one of the quickest snapshots off the mark outside Ricoh's acclaimed Caplio range, ultimately it seems better suited to the point-and-shoot brigade, who are likely to attach as much importance to style as substance.
Inevitably, it feels like certain headline features have been rather over-egged and others over- compromised in order to bring a camera boasting these dimensions to market at a street price of around £230.
Skin tones could be described either as natural or distinctly pasty, though a reasonable level of detail has been captured.
Under low winter sun the T10 delivers washed-out colours and a slightly overexposed image that has lost some highlight detail, while the edges of the frame are a little soft.
This indoor image, taken at ISO 1000 and with Super SteadyShot active, displays a fair amount of noise and loss of detail.