Review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U10
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Friday, November 22, 2002
Sunday, December 1, 2002
are small cameras, and then there are small cameras. The
Cyber-shot DSC-U10 ($199) is mind-blowingly small. It gets attention
everywhere it goes, similar to the reception the original Canon
Digital ELPHs got a few years ago.
U10 isn't really intended to be your primary camera. Rather, it's
a camera you can have with you all the time, always ready to take
a shot. If 1.3 Megapixel isn't enough, Sony also sells the DSC-U20
($269) which is 2.0 Megapixel.
more about this tiny camera in our review!
in the Box?
DSC-U10 has a good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
1.3 (effective) Mpixel DSC-U10 camera
AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries
featuring Pixela ImageMixer and USB drivers
page camera manual (printed)
I'd complain about the inclusion of an 8MB Memory Stick with a camera.
But since the U10 is only a 1.3 Megapixel camera, it's not a problem.
You can store 23-80 photos on the card. Still, it wouldn't be a
bad idea to buy a larger card.
U10 is the only camera I've seen that uses AAA batteries. Better
yet, Sony includes two NiMH batteries and a charger. The batteries
last longer than I would've expected -- about 65 minutes.
it's time to charge, just pop them in the included charger and you'll
be back in action in a whopping 13 hours. You may want to find a
faster charger! (recharge time corrected 12/1/02).
DSC-U10 has a sliding lens cover that also doubles as the power
switch. It's way too easy to open, and I found myself turning the
camera on by just putting it in my pocket. You can also see just
how tiny this camera really is.
expect a whole lot of accessories for the U10. Besides things like
larger Memory Sticks and card readers, the only other option is
a carrying case. You can even get a faux fur case for the U10!
included Pixela ImageMixer software is alright, but is no substitute
for Photoshop Elements. You can view and organize your photos as
you can see above.
can also do basic editing, like adjusting color, brightness and
contrast, and redeye.
software is not Mac OS X native -- you have to run it in classic
mode. Once there, you're kind of stuck in it until you quit, because
Pixela chose not to follow Apple's interface guidelines.
camera itself does work in OS X with iPhoto and Image Capture.
The camera and software work with modern versions of Windows, of
manual included with the U10 is typical of those from Sony. The
information is there, but finding it can be challenging. It's not
case you haven't heard, the DSC-U10 is a small camera. Actually,
it's smaller than that -- it's tiny. Despite the small body, it's
surprisingly sturdy. It's a nice mix of metal and plastic. My one
wish is for the lens cover not to be used as the power
switch -- it's too easy to open accidentally.
it may seem like it, the U10 isn't smaller than the Casio Exilim
cameras. In terms of volume, the Exilims are smaller. Either one
fits into any pocket with ease.
dimensions of the DSC-U10 are 3.4 x 1.2 x 1.6 inches (WxHxD), and
it weighs a paltry 118 grams with battery and Memory Stick. For
the sake of comparison, the Exilim EX-S2's dimensions are 3.5 x
2.2 x 0.4 inches, and it weighs 88 grams (without battery installed).
there's not a lot to see, our tour of the DSC-U10 will be a short
one. Let's begin!
DSC-U10 has an F2.8, fixed focal length lens (it does have autofocus,
though). The focal range is 5 mm, which is equivalent to 33 mm.
There is no optical or digital zoom on this camera. I don't think
that I have to say that conversion lenses aren't available for the
above the lens is the built-in flash. The flash has a working range
of 0.5 - 1.8 m.
about it on the front of the camera! There is no autofocus illuminator
on the U10 -- I don't think they could fit one on it!
of the first things I said when I saw the DSC-U10 was "wow,
that's a small LCD!" And it is, at just 1.0 inches. The LCD
is "transflective", which means you can use it outdoors
without the backlight turned on, to conserve power. The LCD quality
isn't great compared to other cameras, even the Casio Exilim. It's
not bright, and not very sharp either.
is no optical viewfinder on the U10!
the LCD are two buttons plus a two-way switch. The buttons are for
menu and exec(ute), which are used for menus. The two-way switch
navigates the menu, and also changes the flash and scene settings.
The flash modes include auto, auto w/redeye, forced flash, and no
flash. The scene modes have strange names but are standard choices:
soft snap (portrait), illumination snap (flash slow sync), and vivid
a plastic cover at the lower-right, you'll find the USB port. There
is no video out support on this camera.
on top of the camera, you'll find a switch for moving between modes,
the shutter release button, and the power button. The modes available
are playback, still record, and movie record. The power button is
a way to turn the camera on without opening the lens cover. I'd
prefer it if this was the only way to turn on the camera.
to see on this side of of the camera. Man I love reviews like this!
the other side, under a fairly sturdy plastic door, you'll find
the battery and Memory Stick compartments. As I mentioned, the U10
uses two AAA batteries!
here's the bottom of the DSC-U10. There's no tripod mount!
the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U10
there's no lens to extend, the U10 starts up as close to instantly
as you can get. Press the shutter release halfway, and the camera
locks focus in about a second. Press it all the way down and the
photo is taken without delay.
Sorry for the lousy quality of these
speed is excellent as well. You can take another picture almost
immediately after the previous one is taken.
have a look at the very basic quality and resolution choices available
on the U10:
shots on included 8MB Memory Stick
shots on 32MB Memory Stick (for reference)
you can see, even a modest-sized memory card holds a lot of photos
on the U10! Of course, there is no TIFF or RAW mode available. The
camera names files as DSC0####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera
maintains the numbering even if you format or replace the Memory
U10's menu system is a little awkward to navigate. Since there isn't
a four-way switch, you have to go up and down and use the Exec button
a lot. I don't like it -- it's not intuitive. Anyhow, here's what
you'll find in the menus:
(1280 x 960, 640 x 480, Burst)
(Auto, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0 m, infinity)
effect (Off, negative art, sepia, black & white, solarize)
Light (on/off) - turns backlight on
(on/off) - toggles what is shown on LCD
pretty much it. There's also a basic setup mode as well.
only thing worth expanding on is the burst mode. You can take up
to 5 shots in a row at an interval of 0.5 seconds. The catch (and
there always is one) is that they're taken at 640 x 480.
and I suppose the manual focus is worth a mention too. You may want
this when lighting is dim, since the camera may have trouble focusing.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
U10 did an okay job with the macro shot. Unlike the Exilims, the
U10 actually has a macro mode. The image is a little soft, but the
colors look good. Since there's no exposure compensation on the
camera, I couldn't brighten the image, either. The distance to the
subject is about 20 cm in macro mode.
there's no tripod mount on the DSC-U10, I was unable to perform
the night shot test.
surprisingly, flash photos taken with the U10 produced a lot of
redeye. It's hard to show here, even with the image blown up, since
the U10's resolution isn't great in the first place. You'll definitely
have to retouch your photos to get rid of that redeye!
don't think people buy the U10 for the photo quality: they buy it
for the size and convenience. The photo quality on the U10 isn't
going to win any awards, but it's not bad. The noise levels are
low, though images are quite soft. Another thing I noticed is that
Sony really cranked up the JPEG compression, and you can tell (have
a look at the fire truck in the gallery).
Speaking of which, why not take a look at the gallery
to see if the U10's photo quality works for you?
DSC-U10 has a very limited movie mode in several respects. For one,
clips are limited to 15 seconds. Two, sound is not recorded. And
three, the resolution is just 160 x 112.
included 8MB Memory Stick can hold over 5 minutes of video in total.
a quick sample movie for you. The quality is pretty lousy:
to play movie (208KB, MPEG format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
mode on the U10 is basic, basic, basic. You can view photos, delete
photos, and print photos -- that's it. No zoom & scroll, no
slide shows. You can view images as a set of nine thumbnails, at
camera moves through images very quickly. What you see above is
all the info available about your photos.
Does it Compare?
think I've made it pretty clear in this review that the Sony Cyber-shot
DSC-U10 isn't intended to be your primary camera. If it was, it
would be pretty lousy. But for a take anywhere camera, it's pretty
neat. It's tiny, takes decent pictures, and is very responsive.
The battery life is pretty good considering the size of the camera,
and I like that it uses AAAs instead of a proprietary battery. The
camera wasn't great in terms of redeye, and the playback and movie
modes are pretty dreadful. The LCD isn't anything to write home
about either. But like I said, it does what it's designed for --
taking pictures anytime, anywhere. If you like the U10 but want
higher resolution pictures, don't forget the DSC-U20
for $70 more.
small, portable camera
good battery life
good photos considering the size of the camera
I didn't care for:
movie, playback modes
a problem (no surprise there)
easy to accidentally open the lens cover
only other tiny cameras that I've covered are the Casio Exilim models:
(the older M1/S1 models are no longer available).
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the DSC-U10 and it's competitors before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our
a review of the DSC-U10 at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests
for personal camera recommendations.