Review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U60
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: July 12, 2003
July 12, 2003
Cyber-shot DSC-U60 ($299) is probably the most bizarre-looking
digital camera out there. But it's looks aren't what make it
unique. Rather, it's the ability to go underwater, without
having to buy a special case, that defines the U60. But don't
get me wrong, this isn't a serious scuba camera: in fact, it
can only go 5 feet deep. But for its price, there's really
nothing else like it.
from its unique design and abilities, the U60 is a 2 Megapixel
camera with a fixed focal length lens. As a digicam, it's very
basic, with no manual controls of any kind.
this the perfect camera for playing in the pool or snorkeling?
Find out now!
in the Box?
DSC-U60 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.0 effective Mpixel DSC-U60 camera
AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries
featuring Pixela ImageMixer and USB drivers
page camera manual (printed)
8MB Memory Stick that's included with the U60 is a good place
to start, but you'll probably want something larger when you're
ready to get serious with it. The U60 supports Memory Stick Pro
cards, though I don't know why you'd need capacity like that
with a 2MP camera.
Sony U-series cameras are unique, in that they use two AAA batteries
for power. Sony includes two NiMH rechargeables in the box, which
provide you with about 75 minutes of shooting time. I'd recommend
picking up a few more batteries as backups.
also includes a NiMH battery charger that takes 6 hours to fully
charge two AAA batteries. This is faster charger than the one
included with the last U-series camera I tested (the U10).
hold the U60 differently than other cameras
U60 doesn't have a lens cap of any kind. One thing I usually
don't comment on is camera straps, but the U60 has a nice rubber
one, perfect for underwater usage.
expect a whole lot of accessories for the U60. I could only find
things like card readers, carrying cases, faster battery chargers,
and Memory Sticks.
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. The camera itself does work in OS X with iPhoto
and Image Capture. The camera and software work with modern versions
of Windows, of course.
manual included with the U60 is typical of those from Sony. The
information is there, but finding it can be challenging. It's
not terribly user-friendly -- kind of like a VCR manual.
DSC-U60 is very small, bizarre-looking camera. It's vertically-oriented,
which is quite a departure from the typical digital camera. The
body is made of high impact plastic, and everything that opens
is sealed. It's a little weird in that it's hard to figure out
when the camera is level. More on those items in a minute.
I mentioned at the top of this review, this is an underwater
camera, as opposed to "water resistant" like the Olympus
Stylus 300. You can take the camera up to 5 feet underwater,
which is fine for the swimming pool or snorkeling. Just don't
drop the camera. Sony doesn't say what happens if you drop the
camera to the bottom of the pool (assuming it's more than 5 feet
deep), but I'd imagine that it's not a good idea.
camera is made to be held and operated with just one hand.
dimensions of the DSC-U60 are 2.9 x 1.2 x 3.6 inches (W x H x
D), and it weighs 191 grams with battery, Memory Stick, and camera
begin our tour of the camera now.
first thing you'll notice is that the camera is not oriented
the way you'd think it would. "Level" is how you see
it here -- you judge it by the LCD, and not by the top of the
camera. More on that in a second though.
DSC-U60 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
above the lens is the built-in flash. The flash has a working
range of 0.5 - 1.9 m.
only other item here is a self-timer lamp, which is located just
to the left of the lens. There's no AF illuminator, though I
don't really see room for one.
you can see what I was saying about what "level" is
for the U60. You want to have it so the top of the LCD is parallel
with the horizon, as opposed to having the camera itself level.
That probably doesn't make much sense, but you'll understand
if you try a U60.
U60 has a very small, though high resolution, 1-inch LCD display.
The LCD has a backlight that you can turn off when you're outdoors,
to conserve battery power. The U60 has no optical viewfinder,
so it's the LCD or nothing.
the LCD are all the U60's controls. These include (left to right,
top to bottom):
/ Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash
/ Scene modes
Switch (Playback, still record, movie record)
/ Playback "zoom and scroll"
mode allows you to pick a scenario, and the camera chooses the
appropriate settings. The U60's scene modes are:
outdoor (AKA action)
snap (AKA portrait)
snap (AKA night portrait)
only thing on the top of the U60 is the shutter release button.
You saw the rather unusual shooting position with the "in
the hand" picture in the previous section.
to see on this side of of the camera!
the other side of the U60, the sole item of interest is the release
for the door which has the battery and Memory Stick compartments.
compartments are actually located on the bottom of the camera.
also the lack of a tripod mount.
up the bottom, we find the Memory Stick / Memory Stick Pro slot,
battery compartment, and the USB port. Unlike most of the other
2003 Sony models, the U60 does not supports USB 2.0.
note the o-ring around the compartment door. You need to make
sure these rings are clean, otherwise they may not seal properly.
And that's not good.
the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U60
there's no lens to extend, the U60 starts up almost instantly.
Press the shutter release halfway, and the camera locks focus
in under a second. Press it all the way down and the photo is
taken with a minimal delay.
speed is excellent as well. You can take another picture almost
immediately after the previous one is taken.
no way to delete a photo as its being saved to the memory card.
have a look at the very basic quality and resolution choices
available on the U60:
shots on included 8MB Memory Stick
shots on 64MB Memory Stick
1280 x 960
640 x 480
is no TIFF or RAW mode available on the U60, which really should
not be surprising. The camera numbers files as DSC0####.JPG,
where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains the numbering even
if you format or replace the Memory Stick.
U60'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:
(2.0M, VGA, Burst)
(Auto, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0 m, infinity)
effect (Off, negative art, sepia, black & white, solarize)
burst mode allows you to 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.
are very few controls on the U60. Not even exposure compensation.
also a small setup menu, which has things like LCD backlight
(on/off), beep, USB mode, and date/time.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now. This will be a
smaller section that usual, since the U60 has no tripod mount.
That means no night shot and no distortion test.
U60 has an automatic macro mode, which turns on when you're very
close to the subject. The minimum focus distance is 10 cm on
land, and 15 cm underwater. Since there's no exposure compensation,
I couldn't brighten up the macro shot seen above. It's a shame,
because it would've looked pretty good. Here's what the thumbnail
above looks like after a trip through Photoshop:
night or distortion test shots due to the lack of a tripod mount.
do have a redeye test for you, though it's hard to show here,
since the U60's resolution isn't great in the first place. You'll
definitely have to retouch your photos to get rid of that redeye!
DSC-U60's photo quality isn't bad at all. Above sea level, it
took colorful, sharp images, though they had a bit of a "video
capture" look to them. While I wasn't about to fly out to
Hawaii for an underwater photo shoot, I did get some decent shots
at the local tide pools just by plunging the U60 into the water,
and aiming toward something interesting. I look forward to seeing
other people's underwater shots.
check out the photo gallery and see
what you think.
DSC-U60's movie mode pales in comparison to those on other Sony
cameras. You can record up to 15 seconds of 160 x 112 video,
without audio. Movies are saved in MPEG format.
included 8MB Memory Stick can hold about 5.5 minutes of video
a quick sample movie for you. The quality is pretty lousy:
to play movie (288KB, MPEG format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
mode on the U60 is basic, basic, basic. You can view photos,
delete photos, and mark photos for printing (using DPOF) -- that's
a playback zoom feature that lets you zoom in 2.5 or 5 times,
but you cannot scroll around to see the rest of the image. Seems
dumb to me.
camera moves through images very quickly, with about a 1 sec
delay between photos. What you see above is all the info available
about your photos.
Does it Compare?
you buying your primary digital camera, then the Sony Cyber-shot
DSC-U60 probably not a good choice. If you're looking for a portable
camera that can do underwater, then it's a great choice. No other
camera will let you go underwater straight out of the box. The
U60 isn't a scuba camera -- rather, it's best for shallow pool
and snorkeling photos. I was pleased with the photos I took,
including a few underwater shots. The camera is very limited
in terms of features and controls -- this is a point-and-shoot
camera if there ever was one. The menu system is clunky, especially
with the up/down button on the back of the camera. The unique
design of the U60 takes some getting used to, as well. The U60
is a pretty specialized camera, but if underwater shots are what
you're after, then it's worth a look. I should add that the camera
is very durable and may be a good (and somewhat expensive) choice
for up to 5 feet
good battery life
batteries + charger included
good photos considering the size of the camera
I didn't care for:
movie, playback modes
real controls, like white balance and exposure compensation
zoom feature doesn't allow scrolling
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the DSC-U60 before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our photo
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.