The Sony DSC H2 is a 6 megapixel digital camera with a 12x optical zoom lens. The camera also offers image stabilisation. In terms of features and also style the DSC H2 resembles a traditional SLR camera. The features include fully manual exposure. This combined with other advanced features and also the length of the lens make it likely that this camera will appeal to someone who is serious about photography rather than someone looking for a straightforward point and shoot model.
113 x 83 x 94mm
Memory Stick DUO
There was only one type of test shot I had a problem with, with the DSC H2. This was when I tested the camera using higher ISO settings. All the other test shots scored high marks.
If you have read a few of my previous reviews then you will know that there is nothing I like more than a really crisp, sharply focused image. The DSC H2 did excellently in this area producing some of the sharpest images I have taken. This was true of pictures taken indoors as well as outdoors. The sharpness also remains up to the edge of each photo.
Another key ingredient in a good photo is colour. This is another area where the camera performed very well. The colours are deep and vivid and this gives a lively feel to the photos. These findings are also backed up for the dedicated test of colours. This test has all the key colours showing strongly.
The other area where the DSC H2 out performs almost all its rivals is the level of detail it manages to produce. This is especially true in the very light, white areas. The boats in the first picture and also the white slats under the roof of the building are reproduced very clearly indeed. The glare of the sun is also coped with well.
If I had to pick out one area of concern it would be when the zoom lens is not being used. In my second outdoor test shot there is a dark area near the edge of the photo that I would like to have seen lighter.
On a more positive note this camera has almost overcome the inherent purple fringing problem you find with super zoom digital cameras. Although a degree of fringing occurs in the third outdoor scenic shot this is at a much lower level than I am used to seeing.
The outdoor portrait shot is good, but if I was being picky I would say the face is lighter than I would like to see making parts of the face slightly over exposed. Other cameras have managed to avoid this.
Moving indoors I cannot really find fault with either of my two test shots. The indoor portrait shows great detail, sharp focus and the photo is well lit. There is no doubt these larger cameras have an advantage when it comes to indoor photography, but the DSC H2 makes full use of this. With the flash having popped up away from the lens the photo is free of red eye. The shot of bottles taken in more or less complete darkness also works very well.
The macro shot is another example of how well the camera can focus. The shot is sharp and bright. If you are looking to take close up shots for Ebay or something similar this camera is worth considering.
Finishing on a bit of a low note the DSC H2 does struggle once you push up the ISO settings. You may wish to use higher ISO when the light gets low. In theory this would give you a more natural feeling to your photo than one taken using flash. The problem is though that even at ISO 400 there is a clear loss of picture quality.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I was able to take a single shot in 0.16 seconds and five shots in 5.24 seconds. These are both very impressive times. Sony produce the fastest super zoom digital cameras.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 12x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 36 - 432mm in 35mm format. In addition to this there is a 12x digital zoom and also a 52x smart zoom.
Three different focusing methods are available. These are single, monitoring and continuous. There are also three focusing areas you can choose from. These are centre weighted, multi point and flexible spot. When you would like to fine tune the focusing you can switch over to manual focusing. For close up work the DSC H2 can focus from just 2cm away from the subject.
A small number of predefined scene modes are available. By using a scene mode you inform the camera of the type of photo you are about to take. It will then adjust its settings accordingly. The scene modes available are Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Portrait, Landscape, Beach, High Speed Shutter and High Sensitivity.
The pop up flash unit has a maximum range of 9m. This falls to 6.8m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes available are Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Synchro and No Flash. Red eye reduction can be set on or off.
For composing photos there is the choice of a two inch LCD screen or an electronic viewfinder. The LCD screen is made up of around 85,000 pixels. The screen is also used to show useful information such as battery levels, space remaining on the memory stick and also a histogram.
After you have taken a photo you can make a smaller copy or trim the image by removing an area around the edges of the photo. There is also a facility that allows you to cut a movie.
To take full control over the exposure fully manual exposure is available. You can also use aperture and shutter priority. The maximum aperture is f2.8 (wide angle) and f3.7 (telephoto). You can select a shutter speed in the range of 30 seconds to 1/2000 seconds. In automatic modes the shutter speeds available differ (1/4-1/2000 seconds).
Other advanced controls include exposure compensation (+/-2.0 EV, 1/3 EV step), white balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash, One push), three types of light metering (Multi Pattern, Centre weighted and spot) and ISO sensitivity settings (Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400,800,1000).
Auto exposure bracketing is also available. You can also adjust the contrast and sharpness settings.
There are two types of burst mode available. The first one is fairly straightforward and allows you to reel off up to seven consecutive photos. The second mode captures 16 shots and puts them together in a single image.
The DSC H2 is capable of recording TV quality movies. The highest resolution available is 640 x 480 pixels. There is a top frames per second speed of 30. Sound can be recorded with the movie and digital zoom is available too. Movies are only limited in duration by the capacity of the memory card.
Sony supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the DSC H2 to a television set, computer and a PictBridge compatible printer.
To further enhance the capabilities of the camera you can also add conversion lenses. Please note a lens adapter is required before you can fit a conversion lens.
Ease of Use
Obviously any digital camera with this number of features is going to take a while to get to know. To be fair though the menu system used by Sony is very easy to find your way around and this helps to make the DSC H2 easier to use then it might have been. There are a fair number of buttons and dials on the camera. This helps to put key controls at your fingertips.
You can pick up a Sony DSC H2 for around £275. This compares to around £310 for a Canon Powershot S3 IS, £250 for a Panasonic DMC FZ7 and £195 for an Olympus SP-500.
Although the DSC H2 is one of the more expensive digital cameras of its type I think the overall picture quality and low shutter lag times make it good value for money.
The DSC H2 is similar in style to a traditional SLR camera. It comes in silver. With dimensions of 113.2 x 83 x 94mm there is plenty to get your hands on and there is a good sized grip on the right hand side of the camera. I found the camera felt just about right in the hand. It weighs 389g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Two AA batteries are required to provide power to the camera. Sony supplies two rechargeable batteries and a charger with the DSC H2. The batteries have a mAh rating of 2500. This is very good. Sony estimates you should be able to take around 400 shots before the batteries need to be recharged.
There are 30mb of memory built into the camera. Therefore a memory card is not supplied as standard. The camera is compatible with Memory Stick Duo cards. Be sure to make sure Duo is in the name of the card as standard Memory Stick is too large for this camera. I was able to take 13 shots before the memory was full. Although by supplying 30mb of memory Sony are more generous than most you are still going to need a large memory card before you can take many photos.
Click here to save money on Memory Stick Duo.
Points I like:
Low shutter lag
Easy to use considering the features
Where it is not so hot:
Noise problems at ISO 400
Build quality a shade below the Canon Powershot S3 IS
I really like the Sony DSC H2. It was difficult for me to think of anything that really put me off the camera. It takes a very sharp photo with good colours. With low shutter lag times this camera is a winner in my view. Recommended.
Sony DSC H2 Front View
Sony DSC H2 Back View
Sony DSC H2 Top View
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