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Sony DSC-T100 Operation

The user interface on the Sony DSC-T100 has evolved with the large screen to include helpful explanations of the various options. The new Function Guide, which displays a text explanation in a bubble as you navigate Menu options, can be turned off, but it's unobtrusive, and even helpful in deciphering what one or another icon controls.

There's no touch screen and a lot fewer buttons on the T100, too, with most functions available from the menu system. That's disappointing when it comes to something essential like Exposure Value settings, and even Scene modes, although the system does remember which option you last changed so you can go right back to it. Why the Self-Timer gets one of the coveted spots on the navigator controller, one can only guess. And where EV usually is, the Display toggle sits.

The Home button is particularly unintuitive, displaying the main menus for Shooting, View Images, Printing/Other, Manage Memory, and Settings. But trying to select and set options using the arrow keys, and the center button just takes you out of the menu system, and the only way to get back to select another option is to leave the menu system completely and re-enter it. The animations also make navigation slow. Frustrating.

The menu system is more attractive than it has been in past models, and the beeps that accompany selections are actually delightful. There are also some fun things tucked inside the menu. Although you can certainly just slide the T100 on and shoot (relying on the Bionz image processor to save the day), you should investigate the menus for exposure options and the various Scene modes that are the cure for difficult situations.

Record Mode Display. The DSC-T100's 3.0-inch LCD monitor reports a healthy amount of data in Record mode, including a live histogram, the battery level, image resolution, and quality, exposure mode, flash mode, autofocus mode, and other basic settings. A set of focus brackets in the center of the frame highlight in green when the shutter is half-pressed to indicate what portions of the subject are in focus. A half-press of the Shutter button also adds the shutter speed and aperture settings to the bottom of the display. Even though you can't change them directly, we always like seeing how the camera has been set, so we can know whether to expect motion blur, what the depth of field is likely to be, etc. The Display button cycles through a range of display modes, starting with indicators on, bumping up the brightness of the LCD, turning on the histogram, and turning off the indicators.

Playback Mode Display. In Playback mode, the LCD monitor can report basic information such as the image resolution, battery level, folder number, image series number, file name, and the date and time the image was captured. Pressing the Display button cycles through a range of display modes, including nothing but the image, the image with indicators, bumping up the brightness of the LCD, and turning on the histogram with exposure information. Pressing the wide-angle side of the zoom control brings up a nine-image thumbnail display of previously-captured images, handy for times when you want to scroll through the images quickly. The display shows only six full thumbnails with half the row above, and half the row below, so you can get a hint of 12 images rather than just nine. Pressing the telephoto side of the zoom control reverses the process, and continued pressing smoothly zooms in on the currently-displayed image, to a maximum 5x magnification. When zoomed, the arrow keys scroll the enlarged view around the image as a whole.


Sony DSC-T100 Modes and Menus

Record Mode. Activated by sliding the lens cover down, Record mode has three still shooting modes (Auto, Scene Selection, and Program Auto), and one movie mode. Pressing the Menu button displays the Record settings menu, with options varying depending on the exposure mode selected:

Playback Mode. This mode lets you review captured images on the memory card or internal memory, erase them, protect them, set them up for printing, etc. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

Setup Mode. There are two Shooting Settings menus, which are simply just two pages of options.

Home Menu. Activated by pressing the Home button in any mode, this menu provides access to the main operating menus.