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DCRP Review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 25, 2008
Last Updated: January 25, 2009
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T77 ($299) is a stylish, ultra-slim camera that features a 4X optical zoom lens, image stabilization, numerous point-and-shoot features, and a large 3-inch, touchscreen LCD. The T77 comes in a host of fashionable colors, including silver, black, pink, green, and brown.
There are currently three models in Sony's T-series lineup. Here are the differences between them:
In a nutshell: the T77 is the thinnest model, the T700 has a big screen and a fancy 4GB photo album, and the T500 has a more powerful lens plus an HD movie mode.
The DSC-T77 finds itself amongst some tough competition. How does it perform? Find out now in our review!
Is the Cyber-shot DSC-T77 the ultimate ultra-compact camera? Find out now, as our review starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The DSC-T77 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like all of Sony's recent cameras, the Cyber-shot DSC-T77 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. The T77 has a paltry 15MB of onboard memory, which holds just three photos at the highest quality setting. Thus, you'll want to get a large memory card, and fast. The DSC-T77 supports Memory Stick Duo media, and I'd start out with a 2GB card.
The DSC-T77 can use two different batteries: the included NP-BD1, and the optional NP-FD1. The only difference between the two is that the FD1 has the InfoLithium feature, which allows the camera to tell you exactly how many minutes of battery life you have left. Both batteries have just 2.4 Wh of energy, which is about as low as you'll find. Here's how that translates into battery life:
The DSC-T77's battery is almost the exact average among this group of cameras. You may want to buy an extra battery, so keep in mind that they'll be on the pricey side (the InfoLithium NP-FD1 costs at least $33). In addition, you can't use an "off-the-shelf" battery when your rechargeable dies, though the same could be said for any of the cameras in the above table.
When you're ready to charge the T77's battery, just pop it into the included charger. Sony says that a "typical charge" will take about 160 minutes, with a full charge taking 220 minutes. This is my favorite kind of charger -- it plugs directly into the wall, with no power cord needed.
Like all of the cameras in Sony's T-series lineup, the DSC-T77 has a sliding lens cover. The sliding cover not only protects the lens for when it's not in use, but it also serves as the power switch for the camera. Unfortunately, it's way too easy to accidentally bump, thus turning on the camera. I know this design has become a trademark of the T-series, but I'd be a happy man if Sony did away with it forever.
Now, here's a look at what accessories are available for the T77:
A pretty standard set of accessories for an ultra-compact camera, though having two underwater cases is unusual.
One of the T77's unique features is to output video to your HDTV at resolutions up to 1080i. You'll need to buy some accessories to do it, though. The cheaper of the two options is to buy the component video cable, but if you're feeling spendy, you can go for the HD camera dock, which also charges your battery and lets you connect to a computer. Do note that you'll have to switch the camera to standard definition output if you
Picture Motion Browser for Windows
Sony includes version 3 of their Picture Motion Browser software with the DSC-T77. This software remains Windows-only, so Mac users will have to look for another product for photo viewing (iPhoto works just fine).
On the main screen you'll find the usual thumbnail view. A calendar view is also available, so you can see what photos you took on a particular day. Here you can e-mail or print photos, send them to photo or video sharing sites, or burn them to a CD or DVD. If you're using the Sony GPS unit, you can view a map showing where each picture was taken. Photos can be tagged as favorites, labeled, and given ratings.
One neat feature is the ability to show photos that only display scenery, people, or smiles. It works pretty well, though it once mistook a car wheel for a face.
Editing in Picture Motion Browser
Double-clicking on any thumbnail brings you to the edit screen. The tools here include auto correction, brightness/contrast/saturation adjustment, redeye removal, and trimming (cropping). You can even adjust the tone curve, with wasn't available on earlier versions of PMB. You can also print the date on your photo using Picture Motion Browser.
Music Transfer in Mac OS X
Also included is Music Transfer, this time for both Mac OS X and Windows. You'll use this to customize the background music for the T77's fancy slideshow feature. You can rip audio from a CD or select an unprotected MP3 from your computer, and it will be transferred to the camera. Do note that the sound quality will deteriorate quite a bit.
Sony's camera documentation took a turn for the worse earlier this year. No longer do you get a detailed, printed manual in the box with the camera. Instead, you'll find a basic manual to get you started, with the full manual in PDF format on the include CD-ROM. In terms of quality, the manuals are just okay -- organization and details could be better, but I appreciate the large typeface.
The Cyber-shot DSC-T77 is an ultra-slim camera made almost entirely of metal. The camera is well put together, with even the normally flimsy battery door being sturdy.
Ergonomics are a mixed bag, and I've already complained about that sliding lens cover. Since the camera relies on its touchscreen interface to control its features, there are hardly any buttons to be found. Those buttons that you will find are on the camera are very small, and the zoom controller is ridiculously small. While there is a spot for your thumb on the back of the camera, the touchscreen interface ensures that you'll have fingerprints on the LCD in no time.
Images courtesy of Sony Electronics
It's virtually a requirement to offer ultra-compact cameras, and Sony did not disappoint in that respect. The DSC-T77 comes in black, silver, green, pink, and a really nice brown.
Now, here's a look at how the DSC-T77 compares to other ultra-compacts in terms of size and weight: