By Jessica Takach
Last year, I was on a quest for the perfect digital camera. I spent nearly six months reading reviews, longingly carressing camera cases and memory cards in Best Buy, and interrogating family and friends on their own digital cameras. I wanted something with some power--I was tired of having a little camera with limited possibilities.
My most desired feature was zoom. I wanted lots of zoom since, living in Maine, there is quite a lot of wildlife to photograph. But with my old camera the animals usually just looked like a pin point on the horizon. I was also interested in megapixels, although frankly I think they are overrated. Unless you plan on making large posters regularly with your photos, a higher megapixel is not really necessary.
So, I finally decided on the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-H5 Digital Camera. And I am loving it. I took it on a trip up to northern Maine this past summer and was able to take FANTASTIC photos of moose from all the way across a lake. They came out as though I were standing right next to them. The camera has a 12x optical zoom with image stabilization.
This camera also has the option of using the controls manually, which I admit I haven't really progressed to yet. But this is a good testament to the fact that you can use this camera very much like a point and shoot, but it can take some very classy photographs.
I rarely ever have blurry photos, thanks to the image stabilization. The only time this really happens is in very low light at night, and that can be a real pain. But it does have a night time setting, as well as many others like: action for sports, candlelight, portrait, and quite a few others.
Another nice feature is that you can get lots of accessories! If you want to spend even more money, you can get different lenses and filters to put on the end of this camera. Again, I haven't experimented much with this due primarily to the money factor, but it is nice to know that if I get to that level I can go there.
I have taken photos of birds that are 30 feet away or so, and I can zoom in on their individual feathers. It is truly an amazing experience. It is also great for catching candids of your friends.
This is an absolutely perfect camera for someone who is a beginner, but intends to go farther with their abilities as a photographer. You can use this simply as a point and shoot, or for more professional photos. There is a great 2.5 inch display screen on the back, so you can view your photos with ease.
Another nice feature is that the camera takes video. Depending on the size of your memory card (I would recommend at least a 1GB) you can take quite a lot of video time. It works quite well for being mostly a still photo camera, although I have noticed that sometimes it has trouble focusing and will blur a little. But I have gotten some really great video (for instance, in Hawaii, of dolphins) when otherwise I wouldn't have been able to.
My only complaint is something that is really quite uncontrolable and no fault of Sony's. It is too large to fit in a small handbag for going out at night -- and regardless, I probably wouldn't want to risk taking it out with me anyway. But this is simply a limitation of the technology. The camera is incredibly powerful, therefore it has to be a bit bigger than other cameras to contain the larger lens. One day hopefully the technology will get to the point that I can fit a camera this great into my clutch! Until that day, I'll just have to use a bigger bag.
Other than that, one thing to note is that this camera takes rechargable AA batteries. I thought this would be a good thing, but it has turned out to be a MAJOR pain. You constantly have to be recharging batteries and have a back up supply with you at all times. I've lost my recharger, so I have been using regular AA batteries which die very fast. So, just make sure you keep track of your charger and you should be fine, but in the future I will probably try and find a camera with a regular long lasting camera battery.
Overall rating: A-