capsule review

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Sony CyberShot Pro DSC-V3 Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

    A quick shutter, simple menus, and excellent low-light shooting aids make the DSC-V3 an attractive alternative to Canon's G6.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3
Photograph: Rick Rizner

A few features could make some people choose the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 over the similar Canon PowerShot G6. The DSC-V3 has a 2.5-inch LCD on the back (the G6's measures 2 inches), and it has the same useful low-light modes that Sony originally introduced on its camcorders but more recently has added to some of its digital still cameras. In NightFraming mode, the camera emits an infrared light and uses a hologram to aid focusing. In NightShot mode, the infrared light serves as the only illumination--the flash doesn't fire--and you get a somewhat ghostly monochrome image. The camera focuses quickly and easily in dark or light, whether you use one of these modes or not, so you can count on getting a properly focused shot in any setting.

Most buttons, including a very large mode dial on top of the camera, are easy to use. The small and somewhat recessed zoom button is the only exception: We had to use one hand to hold the camera and the other hand to operate the zoom. The 4X zoom lens is extremely quiet and operates smoothly. Best of all, the DSC-V3 can snap off a shot very, very quickly.

Three small buttons on the back of the camera provide easy access to some useful features. The AE Lock fixes the exposure and focus when you press the shutter halfway down; that's much more useful than the single-shot modes that simpler cameras offer. The Focus button lets you lock just the focus (without having to resort to manual focus), while the camera takes care of the exposure; and the Frame button lets you move a cursor to a spot in the LCD viewfinder that you want the camera to use for focusing. Like most Sony digital cameras, the DSC-V3 uses stepped manual focusing instead of continuously variable focusing, but at least it has 14 steps.

In our image-quality judging, the 7.2-megapixel DSC-V3 received high marks for sharpness and earned an overall score of Good. It scored well in our outdoor shot, with an exposure that looked a trifle cool but otherwise fine. Our mannequin shot seemed a bit dark, however, and our still-life shot looked darker still; the latter image had a marked bluish/greenish cast, which we've seen from some other Sony digital cameras. These exposure errors would be easy to fix with a white-balance adjustment or in an image-editing application, but we'd prefer to avoid the extra steps.

The DSC-V3's battery lasted for 330 shots, or 3 hours of shooting, in our battery tests. That's a bit below the average for the advanced cameras we've tested recently.

The camera has full-manual and aperture- and shutter-priority modes, of course; and it supports basic exposure bracketing. It lacks such exotic features as white-balance bracketing and focus bracketing, but the DSC-V3 is easier to use than most of its competitors.

The DSC-V3's main selling points over other advanced cameras are its quick shutter and its comparatively simple menu system. Some competing cameras take better shots, but if you want a Sony camera and don't mind a little tinkering, it's a great choice.

Alan Stafford

This story, "Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 " was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    A quick shutter, simple menus, and excellent low-light shooting aids make the DSC-V3 an attractive alternative to Canon's G6.

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