printer-friendly reviews are for non-commercial use only
DCRP Review: Sony
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: November 21, 2007
Last Updated: January 12, 2008
The Cyber-shot DSC-T200 ($399) is the flagship camera in Sony's ultra-compact lineup. Featuring an 8 Megapixel sensor, 5X optical zoom, optical image stabilization, and gargantuan 3.5" touchscreen LCD display, the T200 is "bigger and better" than just about everything else on the market. Heck, it even has a "smile shutter" feature which waits until your subject is smiling before it takes a photo (and yes, it works).
Sony has three T-series models available now, and this chart should help you figure out the differences between the models:
Hope that helps a little!
Is the Cyber-shot DSC-T200 the ultimate ultra-compact camera? Find out now, as our review starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The DSC-T200 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like all of Sony's 2007 cameras, the Cyber-shot DSC-T200 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. The T200 has 31MB of onboard memory (compared to the whopping 4GB on the DSC-T2), which holds ten photos at the highest quality setting. Therefore, you're going to want to get a decent-sized memory card right away. The T200 uses Memory Stick Duo cards, and I'd suggest a 1GB card to start out with. Going out of your way to buy a "high speed" MS Duo card does not seem to be necessary.
The DSC-T200 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. Despite that, Sony's engineers have managed to squeeze some pretty remarkable battery life out of the T200, as you can see in this chart:
While not best-in-class, the 250 shots per charge number for the DSC-T200 is amazing, considering that it has a power-hungry 3.5" LCD display on the back. The T200 is about 17% above the group average in terms of battery life.
I should mention a couple of "gotchas" regarding the proprietary battery used by the DSC-T200 (and every other camera on that list). For one, they're fairly expensive -- buying a spare battery will set you back about $50. Secondly, if that battery dies, you can't use an off-the-shelf battery like you could on a camera that uses AAs. That said, you won't find a camera this size that uses anything other than a proprietary battery.
When you're ready to charge the T200'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 most of the T-series cameras, the T200 has a big sliding door on the front of it. Not only is this used for lens protection, but it's also one of the two power switches for the camera. Personally, the sliding door drives me nuts -- it's way too easy to move, making it easy to accidentally turn on the camera when you put it in your pocket.
In one of those great mysteries of life, the DSC-T200 has fewer accessories than its lower-end siblings. That means no conversion lenses, folks. Here's what is available though:
As you can see, Sony offers a wide-angle conversion lens for the camera -- it just snaps right on.
One of the T200'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. While you will be able to view photos on your TV, you cannot view videos for some reason.
Picture Motion Browser for Windows
Sony includes their Picture Motion Browser software with the DSC-T200. This software is Windows only, so Mac users will want to use iPhoto to get photos off of the camera.
The software offers the usual thumbnail view of your photos (shown earlier), plus the calendar view you can see above. From either screen you can select photos for printing, e-mailing, and slideshows. You can also burn them to a CD or DVD.
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. You can also put the date on your photo -- something which the camera itself does not do.
Music Transfer in Mac OS X
Also included is Music Transfer for Mac OS and Windows. You'll use this to customize the slideshow background music on the camera. The camera can hold four separate audio tracks, limited to 3 minutes in length.
In theory, you select unprotected MP3s or tracks on an audio CD, and the software will convert it into whatever format the camera uses. In reality, I was unable to get the software to see any of my MP3 files, but it worked fine with CD audio.
Sony's camera documentation has taken a major step backward this year, in my opinion. In the old days you got a full, printed manual in the box with the camera. Not anymore. Now you get a printed manual covering the basics, but for more advanced operations you'll have to open up the "Cyber-shot Handbook" on the included CD-ROM. The quality of the manuals themselves is fine, but having to open a PDF to read it isn't cool.
Look and Feel
From the front, the DSC-T200 looks just like the other T-series models. You've got the brushed metal body, sliding lens cover (ugh), and internal 5X zoom lens. Flip the camera around and whoa -- are you in for a shock. The only thing there you'll see is a giant LCD screen, with not a single button in sight. Since the screen takes up so much real estate, holding the T200 is a bit awkward. Sony has put a sort of thumb rest on the wrist strap connector, though I found myself using both hands to keep the camera steady. That big screen also means big fingerprints, so be prepared for that. Another thing I didn't care for is the tiny and awkward zoom controller on the top of the camera.
Images courtesy of Sony Electronics
In terms of build quality, the T200 is well put together, with lots of metal and a minimum of plastic. Like most Sony cameras these days, the T200 comes in multiple colors: silver, red, and black.
Now, here's a look at how the DSC-T200 compares to other ultra-compacts in terms of size and weight: