The Sony DSC S650 is a seven megapixel starter digital camera. It has a standard three times zoom lens. It is easy to use and likely to appeal to anyone looking for a less expensive camera from one of the leading brands. The DSC S650 is on the large side to fit into a pocket, but is compact enough to be carried around without a problem.
91 x 61 x 26.5mm
Memory Stick Duo
The DSC S650 produced quite a strange set of test photos. For once I was more impressed by the indoor shots in poor light than with any of the other test photos I took.
My biggest gripe about the outdoor scenic type shots is the focusing. The pictures are simply not as sharp as I like to see. This is not just towards the edges of each shot but even towards the centre I feel the shots could be sharper. This is true of all three shots, one with the zoom lens half extended, one with the zoom not used at all and the final shot with the lens fully extended.
Another issue I have is that many of the test shots could have been brighter. This is true of all the outdoor test shots to some degree, but especially the second test without the zoom in use.
The glare of the sun also causes the camera a problem. The shots were taken on a very sunny day, but there is still a level of detail lost that I think could be improved on.
Colours are strong. This can be seen in the skies and with the darker green foliage in the outdoor shots. The test shot for colour shows the strength of the blue, but unfortunately areas that should be white have a blue tinge and areas that should be yellow have a green tinge as the blue mixes in.
Next up is the outdoor portrait. This is another photo where I feel it could have been brighter. I have no problems with the skin tones, but I would like to see the entire photo lightened up a notch or two.
Oddly the two lowlight photos are the best. Perhaps the camera works at its optimum with the flash on. The indoor portrait is well focused although it could also be lighter. There is no evidence of red eye in the shot.
In extreme lowlight the camera is able to focus well again. In this test the camera is fairly close to the beer bottles and the camera is able to lock onto the subject and focus successfully.
Focusing is not a problem with the macro shot. Again the problem is a lack of light.
Looking at the two test shots taken with higher ISO settings they are a big disappointment. Whilst it is rare for a camera to do well in this test the results show a lot of noise and deterioration even at ISO 400. At ISO 1000 the photo hits the dreadful mark.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
The shutter lag delay for taking a single photo was 0.41 seconds. This is just above average. For five photos it took a respectable 8.30 seconds. Turning the flash on and repeating the tests is a whole new ball game. Times increased dramatically to 2.21 seconds for a single photo and 22.67 seconds for five photos. Sometimes it seemed to take an age to get the camera to focus with the flash turned on.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 3x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 35 - 105mm in 35mm format. The zoom power of the DSC S650 can be increased by using a feature called smart zoom. More and more smart zoom becomes available as you decrease the resolution you are shooting at. A maximum of 14x smart zoom is available at the lowest resolution. 6x digital zoom is another alternative.
For lining up shots there is a 2" LCD screen. This is made up of 115,000 pixels. I must say I found the screen more or less impossible to see in bright sunlight. It was by far the worst camera in this area out of the ten I was testing at the time.
The flash works up to 3.5m. This falls to 2m when the zoom lens is in use. Flash modes are Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Syncro and No Flash. Red eye reduction is also available.
There is the usual selection of scene modes. These are Twilight, Twilight portrait, Soft snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow and High Sensitivity. By selecting the type of scene you are about to photograph the camera is able to use what it considers to be the optimum settings for the shot.
Shutter speeds and aperture size are controlled automatically. The shutter speed works in the range 1 - 1/2000 seconds. The maximum aperture is f/2.8 - f/4.8. For close up work you can get to within 5cm of the subject.
A number of more advanced functions give you access to Exposure Compensation (+/-2.0 EV, 1/ 3 EV step),White Balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash), Metering (Multi Pattern and Spot) and ISO (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000). You can also adjust levels of sharpness.
There is a burst mode. This allows you to take up to three shots at a maximum speed of 1.5 frames per second. You can also use the self timer when you would like to appear in the shot. The self timer offers a two or ten second delay. The DSC S650 also comes with a couple of special resolutions. The first is for playing back photos on a widescreen television. The second takes photos the ideal size for making 6 x 4" prints.
You can record movies at a maximum resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. The top speed is 30 frames per second. Sound can be recorded and although zoom cannot be used while the movie is in progress it can be applied before shooting starts.
You can connect the camera to a compatible printer and computer. I could not find a way of connecting the camera to a television set.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is a strength of the camera. Most of the key controls are available through buttons on the back of the camera and also a control dial on the top. The menu system is straightforward and you should be able to find the options you are looking for without to much of a problem.
You can pick up a Sony DSC S650 for £95. This compares to the Canon Powershot A550 £115, the Fuji Finepix A700 £95 and the Olympus FE-210 £90.
From the front the camera looks like many of the other cameras in the current Sony range. It is on the large side to fit into a pocket with dimensions of 91 x 61 x 26.5mm. It weighs 130g. Other than that there is not a lot that really distinguishes this camera from other models.
Two AA batteries are required to run the camera. Sony estimate a typical pair of batteries should be good for around 100 shots before they need replacing.
There are 24mb of storage built into the camera. Therefore a memory card is not supplied as standard. I was able to take seven shots before the internal memory was full. The camera is compatible with memory stick duo and memory stick duo pro cards.
Click here to save money on Memory Stick Duo.
Points I like:
Where it is not so hot:
Shutter lag times with flash
LCD screen in sunlight
I know the Sony DSC S650 is not the most expensive digital camera, but I was still disappointed by its performance. Shutter lag with the flash, the performance of the LCD in bright sunshine and the lack of sharpness it the outdoor shots are all major drawbacks.
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