DSC-T5 ($349) is the
latest addition to Sony's line of ultra thin cameras.
The T5 takes styling cues from the original DSC-T1
(and the more recent DSC-T7 as well), with its unique
slide-down lens cover. Other features on the T5 are
typical of what you'll find in this class: the 5 Megapixel
CCD, 2.5" LCD, point-and-shoot operation, and
VGA movie mode. Unfortunately, some not-so-good things
also come along with this design, and I'll cover them
How does the T5 stand up in the crowded
ultra compact field? Find out now in our review!
Since the two cameras have so much
in common, I will be reusing portions of the DSC-T33
review to save time.
What's in the Box?
The DSC-T5 has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 5.1 effective Megapixel Cyber-shot
- NP-FT1 rechargeable lithium-ion
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB + A/V cable (one cable does
- CD-ROM featuring Sony Picture Package
software, ImageMixer VCD2, USB drivers, and Cyber-shot
- Fold-out Quick Start Guide + 105 page camera manual (both printed)
As is the case with Sony's other recent
cameras, the T5 does not include a memory card. Instead,
Sony has built 32MB of memory right into the camera.
That doesn't hold too many 5 Megapixel photos, so buying
a memory card is a requirement. Like the other T-series
cameras, the T5 uses Memory Stick Duo cards, which
are available as large as 2GB. These cards are smaller
than regular Memory Sticks, and an adapter is included
so you can use them in things with regular MS slots.
The downside with MS Duo cards is that they're expensive
-- a 1GB card will set you back $105, while an equivalent
SD card costs $88.
The DSC-T5 uses the same NP-FT1 battery as the DSC-T1 and T33. This battery has just 2.4 Wh of energy, which about as low as you'll find. Thankfully, Sony engineers figured out how to get as much out of that little battery as they possible could. The chart below shows how the T5's battery life stacks up against the other ultra thin cameras on the market:
life, LCD on
Minolta DiMAGE X60
Not obtained using CIPA standard
As you can see, battery life has been
improved quite a bit since the T7 and T33 were released.
While it's not the best in class, the T5 is darn close.
The usual caveats about proprietary
batteries apply here. They're expensive ($50 a pop)
and you can't use "regular batteries" to
get you throw the day in an emergency. Unfortunately
these batteries are standard features on ultra thin
cameras like the T5.
One thing I do like about the InfoLithium
battery used by the T5 is that it tells you exactly
how many minutes you have left before you run out of
When it's time to charge the T5's
battery, just pop it into the include external charger.
This is my favorite type of charger -- you just plug
it right into the wall.
If you want to charge the battery while it's inside the camera, you must purchase the Cyber-shot Station camera dock for $50 (see below for more on this). The optional AC adapter will power the camera, but won't charge the battery while it's in the camera.
(Paragraph updated 9/2/05)
The T5 has the same sliding lens cover
design as the T1 and T7, which may or may not be a
good thing. While it looks cool, it's really easy to
accidentally turn on the camera, especially when you're
putting it into your pocket. As you can see, this is
one tiny camera.
There are a couple of accessories
for the DSC-T5. First there's the CSS-TNA camera dock
($50) which lets you charge the T5's battery, transfer
photos to your PC, or view pictures on your TV. A remote
control is included so you don't have to keep the camera
close by when it's plugged into the TV. The next accessory
of note is the SPK-THB marine case ($100), which lets
you take the camera up to 3 meters underwater. Other
accessories include an AC adapter ($35), car power
adapter ($70), and leather camera case ($50).
viewer (Windows only)
Sony includes Picture Package v1.6
for Windows as the main image viewing application.
It's a pretty basic image viewer and doesn't compare
to things like ACDSee, Photoshop Elements, or even
the software designed by other camera manufacturers.
This latest version of Picture Package
adds basic editing capabilities. You can remove redeye,
adjusting brightness and contrast, and crop/resize
your photos. You can also e-mail them at the click
of your mouse.
Mac users don't get to use PicturePackage
(you can use the camera with iPhoto just fine). Instead,
they get ImageMixer VCD2 (don't worry WIndows users,
you get it too). ImageMixer is used to create a Video
CD from your images. Video CDs are kind of like a poor
man's DVD -- not as good, but usable.
The Cyber-shot Life tutorial is a
very helpful tool for learning to use the camera. It
goes way beyond the manual and teaches some very useful
techniques, like how to take night shots like the one
later in this review. You can also do a simulation
of various camera settings like ISO, shutter speed,
aperture, and white balance to see how they work. Now
if only there was a Mac version too!
The DSC-T5's documentation is divided into two parts. First there is a fold-out "Read This First" guide that covers just about everything you'll need to know in order to start taking pictures. For more details you'll need to open up the 105 page User's Guide, which answers any possible question you may have about the camera. The fold-out guide is well presented, though the User's Guide still has a lot of fine print (though less than previous Sony manuals).
(Paragraph updated 9/7/05)
Look and Feel
The Cyber-shot DSC-T5 is a stylish,
ultra thin camera that has a lot in common with Sony's
T1 and T7 models. It's very thin, thanks to the folded
optics technology that has most of the lens elements
down the body, perpendicular to the path that light
enters the lens. As I mentioned in the previous section,
the T5's sliding lens cover looks nice, but it can
be frustrating. The camera is very easy to hold and
operate with just one hand, and it can fit in any pocket
Image courtesy of
Like many other cameras in this class,
the T5 comes in your choice of four colors. They include
silver (which I tested), black, gold, and red.
Now let's see how the T5 compares
in terms of size, volume, and weight with the competition:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
x 2.1 x 0.9 in.
x 2.3 x 0.6 in.
x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
x 2.2 x 0.7 in.
x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
Minolta DiMAGE X60
x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
x 2.4 x 1.0 in.
Stylus Verve S
x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
x 2.0 x 1.0 in.
x 2.2 x 0.8 in.
x 2.4 x 0.7 in.
x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
x 2.4 x 0.6 in.
x 2.4 x 0.9 in.
The DSC-T5 fits in-between the DSC-T7
and DSC-T33 in terms of size. Compared to the other
cameras in the ultra thin category it's about average.
Okay, enough of that, let's begin
our tour of the T5 now.
First, let me apologize in advance
for some of these product photos. Cameras with mirrored
surfaces like the T5 don't photograph very well.
The DSC-T5 has the same F3.5-4.4,
3X zoom Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens as the other cameras
in the T-series. The focal length of the lens is 6.3
- 19.0 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm. Not
surprisingly, you cannot attach conversion lenses to
Immediately to the left of the lens
is the AF-assist lamp, which doubles as the self-timer
lamp. The AF-assist lamp is used by the camera as a
focusing aid in low light situations.
The next thing to see is the built-in
flash. If you remember the other T-series cameras you'll
know that the flash is notoriously weak. The working
range on the T5's flash is 0.1 - 2.5 m at wide-angle
and 0.5 - 2.0 m at telephoto (both at auto ISO), which
makes it worse than the T7 and better than the T33.
The T5's flash range is comparable to much of the competition,
though cameras like the Canon PowerShot SD450 and the
Fuji Finepix Z1 do a lot better in this area. You cannot
attach an external flash to the T5.
Like virtually all the other cameras
in this class, the DSC-T5 has a large 2.5" LCD
display. This screen packs over 230,000 pixels, which
results in sharp images. The LCD features Sony's "hybrid" technology,
which allows for easy viewing in bright outdoor light,
and it lives up to the hype. In low light conditions
the screen "gains up" a bit, though not as
much as I would've liked. I had the new Canon PowerShot
SD550 alongside the T5 and it brightened a lot more.
One thing missing from the T5 (along
with almost all of the competition) is an optical viewfinder.
Whether this is a problem is your decision: I like
having one myself, but most people never use them.
At the top-right of the photo you'll
find the zoom controller. This moves the lens silently
from wide-angle to telephoto in 2.2 seconds. I counted
a whopping sixteen steps throughout the 3X zoom range.
Below that you'll find the Display
and Menu buttons and the speaker. The Display button
toggles the information shown on the LCD screen, while
the Menu button does just what it sounds like.
Continuing downward we find the four-way
controller, which is used for menu navigation and also
- Up - Flash setting (Auto, flash
on, slow synchro, flash off) - redeye reduction is
turned on in the setup menu
- Down - Self-timer (on/off)
- Left - Quick Review (shows the
last photo taken so you can review or delete it)
- Right - Macro (on/off)
The last thing to see on the back
of the camera is a button for adjusting the image size
(in record mode) and deleting photos (in playback mode).
I know it's hard to see what's going
on here, so bear with me. At the left side of the photo
is the microphone -- so watch your hands when you're
recording movies. In the center of the picture is the
power button, with the mode switch to the right of
that. The three modes on the T5 are playback, record,
and movie. The last thing to see here is the shutter
Nothing to see here.
On the other side of the T5 you'll
find the battery and memory card compartment. These
are kept under a plastic door of average quality. As
I said earlier, the T5 uses Memory Stick Duo cards
(regular or pro varieties), and an adapter is included
to get the Duo card into a regular MS slot.
The included NP-FT1 battery is shown
This may sound silly, but one of the
big new features on the T5 when compared to the T7
and T33 is the addition on a tripod mount (before you
had to use an adapter or the dock). Since the memory
card slot is off to the side, you can swap memory cards
while the camera is on a tripod.
The only other thing to see here is
the dock connector, which is also used for USB, A/V,
and DC-in. The T5 supports the fast USB 2.0 High Speed
Using the Sony Cyber-shot
The T5 is ready to start shooting
in just 1.2 seconds, which is pretty darn fast.
A histogram is
shown on the LCD in record mode
Focus speeds on the T5 were very good,
with typical focus times of 0.2 - 0.4 seconds, and
slightly longer if the camera has to "hunt" for
focus. The camera focused very well in low light thanks
to its AF-assist lamp.
As with Sony's other cameras, shutter
lag was not noticeable, even at the slower shutter
speeds where it sometimes crops up.
Shot-to-shot speed was excellent,
with a delay of a little over a second before you can
take another shot (assuming the post-shot review feature
is turned off).
You cannot delete a photo right after
it's taken -- you must use the Quick Review feature
Now, here's a look at the image size/quality
choices on the T5:
||# images on 32MB card
2592 x 1944
2592 x 1728
2048 x 1536
1920 x 1080
1280 x 960
640 x 480
The 16:9 option is new to the T5,
and it comes in handy when you're displaying images
on a widescreen TV. As with the other T-series cameras,
the DSC-T5 does not support the RAW or TIFF image formats.
The file numbering system used by
Sony is quite simple. Files are named DSC0####.JPG,
where #### = 0001 - 9999. The numbering is maintained
as you erase and swap Memory Sticks.
The T5 uses the same menu system as
other recent Sony cameras. The menu is overlay-style
-- meaning that its shown on top of the image you're
preparing to shoot -- and it's pretty easy-to-use.
Here are the menu options on the T5:
- Camera (Auto, program, magnifying
glass, twilight, twilight portrait, candle, portrait,
landscape, sports, beach, snow, fireworks) - see
- Exposure compensation (-2EV to
+2EV, 1/3EV increments)
- Focus (Multi AF, center AF, spot
AF, 0.5 m, 1.0 m, 3.0 m, 7.0 m, infinity)
- Metering mode (Multi, center, spot)
- White balance (Auto, daylight,
cloudy, fluorescent, incandescent, flash) - no custom
option to be found
- ISO (Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400)
- Photo Quality (Fine, standard)
- Rec Mode
- Normal - regular shooting
- Burst - took nine shots
in a row at about 1.4 frames/second at the
highest JPEG quality (based on my tests using
a standard MS Duo card)
- Exposure bracketing - camera
takes three shots in a row, each with a different
exposure value; choose the interval between
shots in the record menu (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV,
- Multi burst - takes 16 shots
in a row (at interval selected in menu) and
compiles them into one 1 Megapixel image (like
- Bracket step (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1.0EV)
- for the exposure bracketing feature described above
- Multi-burst interval (1/30, 1/15,
1/7.5 sec) - for the multi-burst feature described
- Flash Level (Low, normal, high)
- Photo Effects (Off, black & white,
- Saturation (Low, normal, high)
- Contrast (Low, normal, high)
- Sharpness (Low, normal, high)
- Setup - see below
Like the other T-series cameras, the
DSC-T5 is a point-and-shoot camera. The only pseudo-manual
control is for focus, and it's pretty limited because
there are only a few preset distances to choose from.
The difference between the Auto and Program shooting
modes is that the menus are locked down while in Auto
It's worth mentioning that the LCD
goes black very briefly between shots in burst mode.
The setup menu adjusts a mix of mundane
and useful functions on the T5. They include:
- Camera 1
- AF mode (Single, monitor) - see below
- Digital zoom (Off, smart, precision) - see
- Date/Time (Off, date, day & time) - whether
date/time is printed on your photos
- Redeye reduction (on/off)
- AF illuminator (on/off) - turns the AF-assist
lamp on and off
- Auto Review (on/off) - shows images on LCD
after it is taken
- Camera 2
- Enlarged icon (on/off) - a visual aid for
changing camera settings
- Internal Memory Tool
- Memory Stick Tool
- Card format
- Change/create rec folder - manage folders
on the memory card
- Copy - copies all images from internal memory
to an MS Duo card
- Setup 1
- LCD backlight (Bright, normal)
- Beep (Shutter only, on, off)
- Language (English, German, Spanish, French,
Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish,
Danish, Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, Czech,
- Initialize - reset camera to default settings
- Setup 2
- File number (Series, reset)
- USB connect (Auto, Mass Storage, PTP, PictBridge)
- the auto option is a new one; about time
somebody figured out how to do this
- Video out (NTSC, PAL)
- Clock set
Single AF is just like you're used
to: press the shutter release halfway and the camera
locks focus. Monitor AF lets the camera focus constantly,
even without the shutter release pressed. This helps
reduce the time required to take a picture.
The camera has two types of digital
zoom. Precision digital zoom is the same old "enlarge
the center" system that you should avoid. Smart
Zoom lets you enlarge the image without a loss in quality,
with the catch being that you can't use much of it
unless you're at a low resolution. The lower the resolution,
the more smart zoom you can use. This is similar to
the "extended optical zoom" feature on Panasonic's
Let's move on to our photo tests now,
The DSC-T5 did a pretty good job with
our usual macro test subject. Colors look good (though
there's a slight reddish cast) and everything's very smooth
-- no noise here.
As with the other T-series cameras,
there are two macro modes on the T5. The normal one
lets you get as close to your subject as 8 cm at wide-angle
and 25 cm at telephoto -- pretty average. But if you
want to get really close, turn on the "magnifying
glass mode", which reduces the minimum distance
to just 1 cm -- perfect for super close-ups. Do note
that the lens is locked at the wide-angle position
in this mode.
The T5 did a "just okay" job
with the night shot. The camera didn't take in enough
light due to the maximum shutter speed of 2 seconds
(most of my night shots are 4-5 seconds), which make
things a little darker than I would've liked. One way
to bring in more light is to increase the ISO, though
that will make your photos noisy. The photo here isn't
noisy at all, and purple fringing levels are very low
There's moderate barrel distortion
at the wide end of the T5's lens. While I saw minor
corner softness, there's no vignetting to be found.
Small cameras mean big redeye, so
you shouldn't be surprised with the results of our
flash test. The only small camera I've seen without
a redeye problem is the Kodak EasyShare V550, and it's
quite a bit thicker than the T5.
Overall the DSC-T5's image quality
is good, but not great. As is the case with some other
of these ultra thin cameras, the T5's images have a
soft, "fuzzy" look to them. This will only
be noticeable when viewing images at 100% or making
large prints, so it will not be a problem for most
people. Otherwise the news is good: the camera took
photos with accurate exposure and color, and noise
levels were low. Purple fringing was not a problem.
Don't just take my word for all this,
though. Have a look at our photo
gallery and decide if the T5's photo quality meets
your expectations. I also encourage you to print the
photos, just like you would if they were your own.
The DSC-T5 has the same, top-notch
movie mode as Sony's other digital cameras. The MPEG
Movie VX Fine mode takes VGA resolution video (that's
640 x 480) at 30 frames/sec until the memory card is
full, with sound. The VX Fine mode requires a Memory
Stick Pro Duo card, and you cannot use the internal
memory at that setting either. A 1GB Pro Duo card can
hold about 12 minutes of video at the highest quality
If you don't have a Memory Stick Pro
Duo card, don't fret. You can quadruple the recording
time by using the VX Standard mode, which is still
VGA, just at 16 frames/second. An even lower resolution
mode is also available: 160 x 120, 8.3 frames/second,
which boosts recording time by a factor of fifty-seven!
As is usually the case, you cannot
use the zoom lens during filming. Movies are saved
in MPEG format.
Here's a very exciting sample movie
to play movie (7.1 MB, 640 x 480, VX Fine mode, MPEG
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The Cyber-shot DSC-T5 has a pretty
standard (though well-implemented) playback mode. Basic
features include slide shows, DPOF print marking, image
protection, thumbnail mode, and "zoom & scroll".
The camera is PictBridge-enabled, allowing for direct
printing to compatible photo printers.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term)
allows you to zoom up to 5X into your photo (in 0.1X
increments), and then scroll around in it. This is
useful for checking the focus in a photograph.
Some of the more advanced playback
- Resize - change an image's size
- Trim - crop a photo
- Divide - cut sections of movies
By default, the T5 doesn't tell you
much about your photos. But press the Display button
and you'll see a lot more, including a histogram.
The camera moves between images very
quickly in playback mode. If you go one image at a
time, the next one appears instantly, without any low
resolution placeholder. If you really start flipping
through them, you'll see a low res placeholder followed
by the high res image a half second later.
How Does it Compare
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T5 is an
ultra thin camera best suited to outdoor photos --
just like the other T-series cameras that I've reviewed.
It takes good quality photos in those situations and
camera performance is very good. In lower light conditions
you may be frustrated by a weak flash and LCD display
that can be difficult to see.
The DSC-T5 is an stylish, ultra compact
metal camera. It has the same sliding lens cover as
the DSC-T1/T7, and I'm not sure if I like it. The camera
fits in any pocket and it comes in your choice of four
eye-catching colors. The T5 retains the same 2.5" LCD
as the other T-series cameras, and that includes its
mediocre low light performance. Two new additions since
the DSC-T33 (the last T-series camera that I reviewed)
include a tripod mount and a "no dock requirement" for
connecting to a PC or television. Speaking of connecting
to a PC, the T5 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard.
In terms of features, the DSC-T5 is
point-and-shoot. There are several scene modes, though
I wish slower shutter speeds were available. The camera
offers a VGA movie mode that can record video until
the memory card is full. Do note that for the highest
quality movies you must purchase a Memory Stick Pro
Duo card -- regular MS Duo cards and the internal memory
will not work.
Camera performance is impressive.
The T5 starts up quickly, focuses quickly, and there's
no shutter lag. Low light focusing is good thanks to
t he camera's AF-assist lamp. Battery life has been
improved since earlier T-series models, as well. Photo
quality is good, though the T5 has the same "image
fuzziness" as other cameras that use this lens
design. Redeye will also be a problem. Speaking of
flash photos, the T5's flash is quite weak -- a side-by-side
with the Canon SD550 that I had with me showed a very
noticeable difference in flash range.
Some other issues worth mentioning:
the bundled software isn't the greatest, especially
if you have a Mac. I do, however, like the tutorial
quite a bit. The T5 uses Memory Stick Duo cards, which
cost about 20% more than the SD cards used by many
other cameras in this class. And finally, watch your
fingers: the microphone is right where you'll put your
left index finger.
If most of your photos will be outdoors,
I can definitely recommend the DSC-T5. If you plan
on doing shooting in lower light conditions, I'd find
a camera with a stronger flash and brighter LCD --
you'll be a lot happier with the results. I can't see
a reason to spend more money on the DSC-T7 -- the only
thing I can tell that it offers is a Speed Burst shooting
mode, and that's not worth $150 to me.
What I liked:
- Good photo quality (though see
- Ultra-thin, stylish metal body
comes in four colors
- Large 2.5" LCD is very usable
in bright outdoor light (though see issues below)
- Robust performance
- AF-assist lamp; good low light
- Very good movie modes
- Live histogram in record mode
- USB 2.0 High Speed supported
What I didn't care for:
- Images are on the soft and fuzzy
- Weak flash
- LCD hard to see in low light
- Sliding lens cover makes it easy
to accidentally turn camera on/off
- No optical viewfinder
- Poorly-placed microphone
- Expensive memory card format
- Software bundle isn't great
Some other compact cameras worth looking
at include the Canon
PowerShot SD450, Casio
Exilim EX-Z57 and EX-S500, Fuji
FinePix Z1, Kodak
EasyShare V550, Konica
Minolta DiMAGE X60, Nikon
Coolpix S1, Olympus C-630Z and Stylus
Verve S, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FX8, and the Pentax
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the DSC-T5 and its
competitors before you buy!
See how the photos turned out in our photo
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this
review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me
asking for a personal recommendation.
To discuss this review with other
DCRP readers, please visit our forums.