Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U50
At a Glance
You won't find many cameras smaller or lighter than the Cyber-shot DSC-U50. About the size of a large pack of gum, it'll fit in nearly any pocket with room to spare, or you can hang it from your neck with the included lanyard; it weighs only 4.2 ounces. Despite its small size, the camera feels well made and sturdy. The lens rotates around the camera so you can hold the camera above your head and still see what you're shooting; narcissistic types will find it helps them take self-portraits. Despite using two itty-bitty batteries (rechargeable Ni-MH AAAs), we got 70 minutes of shooting time, or 200 shots, from a charge. That's nowhere near what you'd get from the full-size camera, but it's commendable from a miniature one, and you can use off-the-shelf batteries in a pinch. The camera starts up and takes pictures very quickly (though that's in part because it lacks a zoom lens).
The U50 packs only a 2-megapixel sensor and a fixed-focus lens with only one aperture value. As a result, it struggled to keep up with more sophisticated, higher-resolution cameras. Most shots looked a little fuzzy, and a couple showed a greenish cast. But an outdoor shot looked fine. The camera has no optical viewfinder, and its 1-inch LCD is so small that to see whether your subject is framed properly, you really need to turn off the text displays. As you'd expect, the buttons are tiny.
The U50 uses Memory Stick Duo media, a smaller type of card that requires you to use an included adapter if you prefer a memory card reader to transfer images. You can capture 320-by-240 movies (without audio).
We like the DSC-U50 because of its size, not its photographic capabilities. It'd be great as a second camera for times when you don't want to carry a big, bulky model.