printer-friendly reviews are for non-commercial use only
DCRP Review: Sony
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: October 18, 2005
Last Updated: January 9, 2008
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2 ($450) is an update to the compact DSC-N1 from last year. From the outside, the only difference between the N1 and N2 is the body color. Inside the N2 you'll find a new 10.1 Megapixel CCD, up from 8 Megapixel on the N1. Along with the new sensor comes higher ISO sensitivities, with the N2 now able to go all the way up to ISO 1600.
Everything else is unchanged. That means that the N2 has a compact, all-metal body, a 3X optical zoom lens, a huge 3-inch touchscreen LCD, limited manual controls, a built-in photo album, and a VGA movie mode. Heck, you can even "paint" over your images.
Sounds pretty good, eh? Read on to see how the N2 fared in our tests.
Since the two cameras have so much in common, substantial portions of the DSC-N1 review will be reused here.
What's in the Box?
The DSC-N2 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like many digital cameras these days, Sony has built memory into the DSC-N2 instead of bundling a memory card. The N2 has 25MB of internal memory, which holds just five photos at the highest image quality setting. There's also a separate memory bank that contains the Photo Album that I'll describe later. Anyhow, you'll want to pick up a memory card for the N2 right away. It uses Memory Stick Duo cards, and I suggest a 1GB card as a good place to start. While the MS Duo card won't work in any card readers by itself, Sony includes an adapter that allows you to use them in regular Memory Stick slots.
The DSC-N2 uses the same NP-BG1 lithium-ion battery as its predecessor. For some strange reason this is not an InfoLithium battery like the ones used on Sony's other cameras. What this means to you is that the N2 cannot provide a minute-by-minute countdown of remaining battery life. The NP-BG1 has 3.4 Wh of energy -- and here's how that translates into battery life:
While not the best in class, the DSC-N2's battery life is still well above average. Not bad considering that it has power-hungry 3-inch LCD!
The usual caveats about proprietary batteries apply here. They're expensive ($45 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-compact cameras like the N2.
When it's time to charge the N2'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. The typical charging time is 270 minutes, which is very slow.
As is the case with all ultra-compact cameras, you'll find a built-in lens cover on the DSC-N2.
Image courtesy of Sony Electronics
Sony includes a rather unusual-looking stylus with the N2 so you can keep your greasy fingers off of the LCD (although that happens anyway). The stylus can attach to the wrist strap, so it won't wander away on you.
There are just a few accessories for the DSC-N2. The most interesting of the bunch is the MPK-NA underwater case (priced from $119), which lets you take the camera up to 40 meters (132 ft) under the sea! Next we we have two external flashes: a regular slave flash (priced from $60), plus a macro ring light ($100).
The only other thing I can find is the LCS-NA carrying case (priced from $28).
Picture Motion Browser for Windows
Sony includes their Picture Motion Browser software with the DSC-N2. The PMB software -- which was briefly known as Cyber-shot Viewer -- is for Windows only, so Mac users will have to find something else to use for downloading photos from the camera (iPhoto works just fine).
On the main screen of PMB you'll get the thumbnail view that is standard on most photo viewers these days. You can view photos by folder or by date (using a calendar interface), with a third list view (showing shooting details) also available. On this screen you can rotate, print, and e-mail images, as well as create slideshows of them.
Picture Motion Browser for Windows
Double-clicking on any thumbnail brings you to the edit screen. This adds some basic photo editing tools such as redeye reduction, brightness/contrast/saturation adjustment, and trimming. An auto adjustment feature is also available.
Music Transfer software (Mac version)
Sony also includes software that transfers music to the N2, which you can then use for the fancy slideshow feature. You can rip audio from CDs, and supposedly MP3s, though I couldn't get the latter to work on my Mac.
Look and Feel
Aside from its "champagne gold" colored body, the DSC-N2 looks identical to its predecessor. That means that the N2 is a compact (but not tiny) camera made almost entirely of metal. It's well put together for the most part.
The camera is short on buttons, since it uses a touchscreen LCD. The downside is that using the on-screen menus is time-consuming and -- unless you're using the stylus -- the LCD will be covered with fingerprints in short order.
Now let's see how the N2 compares in terms of size, volume, and weight with the competition: