Sony DSC-S85 - full review online! (UPDATED)|
(Thursday, June 7, 2001 - 00:00 EDT)
Wrapping up 'Sony Day' at the Imaging Resource, Dave tries out Sony's first 4 megapixel digicam...
It's a good guess that 2001 is going to be the year of affordable 4 megapixel cameras. While Toshiba announced a low-cost model just recently, Sony is the first of the market-leading manufacturers to announce a 4.1 megapixel unit under $1,000. - And it's *way* under $1,000, with a list price at introduction of only $799, a scant $100 higher than their already bargain-priced S75 model!
The S85 is very similar to the S75 in many respects, with the same great Zeiss lens we've admired since the S70, the same user interface design, and virtually identical operation. The biggest change (apart from the 4.1 megapixel CCD) is the addition of more buffer memory, permitting bursts of 3 exposures in continuous-shooting mode, and an automatic exposure bracketing option.
It's interesting to note that, with the release of the S85, Sony now has three (well four, actually) separate lines of cameras, with multiple models at each level. Their floppy-based Mavicas have been around for a while now, and earlier this year they extended their single CD-R based camera (the CD-1000) into a full line with the introduction of the CD-200 and CD-300. The 'P-series' cameras are aimed at entry-level users looking for good images and solid build quality in easy-to-use products. With the introduction of the S85, we now see the beginnings of a multi-product lineup at the high end of the consumer market, with both 3.3 and 4.1 megapixel models. (Anyone want to guess what's next?)
We were fortunate to get our hands on a prototype of the new S85 in time to bring you a full review on the day of its official announcement. The new camera looks pretty impressive, with the same excellent color, tonal range, and image sharpness we liked in the S75, now with even more resolution. (And the Zeiss lens appears quite capable of handling the extra resolution of the 4.1 megapixel sensor: The resolution increase is quite noticeable in our resolution test target. Since the unit we tested was a prototype, final production models may show lower image noise and higher shooting speed. Despite this, we think readers will be impressed with the image quality and sharpness of the new S85.
Read the review for all the details! (All images are online for the review, we should have them stitched into the Comparometer by the end of today, 6/7/2001, Eastern time US.)
You can also find a second opinion in Steve's Digicams' review of the DSC-S85 - Steve concludes:
"The real bottom line for any camera is image quality and the the S85 has got that in spades. Thanks to its 14-bit DXP A/D converter and 3-megapixel imager the camera captures an image with a wide dynamic range and this equates a better looking image with very true colors. Sony appears to be sending a clear signal to the other camera makers that it intends to dominate the digicam market." Another opinion comes from the just-posted Digital Photography Review DSC-S85 review. Phil finds that:
"There's always a risk when releasing the first of a new 'step' in the megapixel race that you rush the camera out of the door, perhaps that's why Sony have chosen to release the S85 in the middle of 2001 rather than at PMA. Well, Sony certainly haven't rushed the S85, nor have they skipped on its quality. The S85 delivers everything we'd expect of a 4 megapixel and then some, resolution is there as is overall image quality, colour balance (more neutral than the S75). The S85 proves itself every time you pull images off the Memory Stick..." Our friends at the Digital Camera Resource Page also have a review planned, and should be receiving their camera today we hear. Also, you can find an article from the folks at LetsGoDigital.nl with a very nice image showing the DSC-S85 with Sony's HVL-F1000 flash and VCL-MHG07 0.6x wide lens attached...
Yet more sample photos are now online from Japanese website PC Watch, courtesy of our good friend Yamada Kumio. There's 22 images on one page, including the now famous Japanese street scene that Yamada-san often uses to demonstrate resolution and compressions settings, and zoom lens power...
UPDATED 2001-06-07 12:52ET: Added a link to Steve's Digicams' review...
UPDATED 2001-06-07 16:42ET: Added a link to PC Watch sample images, also added links to DPReview and LetsGoDigital earlier today but forgot to note this update at the time...