Sony DSC-T100 Review

 
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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:
  • Image Size. Options include 8MB (3,264 x 2,448), 3:2 (3,264 x 2,176), 5MB (2,592 x 1,944), 3MB (2,048 x 1,536), VGA (640 x 480), 16:9 (1,920 x 1,080). Movie images sizes include 640 Fine (640 x 480 at 30 fps), 640 Standard (640 x 480 at 17 fps), and 320 (320 x 240 at 8 fps).
  • Face Detection: Turns Face Detection mode on or off. (Only available in Auto adjustment mode).
  • REC Mode. In Auto mode: Selects between Normal (single shot) or Burst (continuous). In Program mode: Selects the continuous shooting method whose options include Normal (no continuous shooting), Burst (up to 100 images while the Shutter button is held down), Bracket (three images exposed with values shifted 0.3, 0.7, or 1.0 EV plus or minus).
  • Color Mode. Offers Normal, Vivid, Natural, Sepia, and Black and White color mode options.
  • ISO. Sets the camera's sensitivity to Auto or to 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, or 3200 ISO equivalents.
  • EV. Sets the exposure value from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV in one-third step increments.
  • Metering Mode. Sets the metering mode to Multi-Pattern (default), Center-Weighted, or Spot.
  • Focus. Options include Multi AF to find focus anywhere in the frame, Center AF to focus on the center of the frame, and Spot AF to select a particular area of the frame. In Movie mode, options include Multi AF, 1.0m, 3.0m, 7.0, and Infinity. The fixed focus settings are also available in Programmed Auto.
  • White Balance. Sets the color balance to Auto, or adjusts for Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1 (white), Fluorescent 2 (natural white), Fluorescent 3 (day white), Incandescent, or Flash (except Movie mode) light sources.
  • Flash Level. When the flash is enabled, this option sets the flash intensity to Normal, Low, or High.
  • Red Eye Reduction. Sets the Red-Eye Reduction flash (which will fire with all flash modes) to Auto (when faces are detected), On (always firing a pre-flash), or Off.
  • SteadyShot. Puts the Steady Shot option into Shooting, Continuous, or Off modes. Shooting mode means that pressing the Steady Shot button enables the anti-blur function, while Continuous mode activates Steady Shot at all times.
  • Setup. Accesses the camera's setup menu (see below).

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:

  • Delete. Options include This Image, Multiple Images, and All in This Folder.
  • Slide Show. Starts a sophisticated slide show with several options of its own. These include Image (select a folder), Effects (Simple, Nostalgic, Stylish, Active, Normal), Music (Options 1-4, or Off), Interval, and Repeat. A Start, and Exit option let you proceed.
  • Retouch. Options include Soft Focus (blur the periphery around a chosen point), Partial Color (surround a chosen point in monochrome), Fisheye lens (apply a fisheye effect around a chosen point), Cross Filter (add a starburst effect to bright points in the image), Trimming (crop the image), and Red Eye Correction (to remove red eye).
  • Protect. Write-protects the current image, or removes protection.
  • DPOF. Marks the current image for printing on a DPOF device, or removes the print mark.
  • Print. Allows printing to PictBridge printers.
  • Rotate. Rotates the current image 90 degrees clockwise, or counterclockwise.
  • Select Folder. Allows selection of different folders on the memory card.

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

  • Shooting Settings 1:
    • AF Illuminator. Puts the AF Illuminator into Auto mode, or simply turns it off.
    • Grid Line. Enables, or disables display of a 3 x 3 grid.
    • AF Mode. Sets the autofocus to Single or Monitor (continuous) modes.
    • Digital Zoom. Sets the digital zoom to Smart Zoom or Precision Zoom modes or turns it off.

  • *Shooting Settings 2:
    • Auto Orientation. Enables or disables recording of orientation (landscape, or portrait).
    • Auto Review. Activates the Auto Review function, which automatically displays the most recently captured image for a few seconds post-capture.

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

  • Shooting: From this menu, you can select among the still, and video capture modes:
    • Auto Adjustment: Sets the camera in Auto mode, letting the camera make all the exposure decisions. Advanced features like Exposure Bracketing, ISO, and Flash Level are disabled in this mode, but EV and Red Eye Reduction are still available.
    • Scene Selection: Sets the camera to one of its Scene modes, including Beach, Fireworks, High Speed Shutter, High Sensitivity, Landscape, Snow, Soft Snap, Twilight, and Twilight Portrait.
    • Program Auto: Sets the camera for auto exposure adjustment but allows you to select various settings enabled in the menu system to fine-tune the results.
    • Movie Mode: Sets the camera to record movies with zoom and audio.

  • View Images: This menu switches to Playback mode, offering three basic options:
    • Single Image: Displays a single image on the LCD.
    • Index Display: Displays the index of images on the LCD.
    • Slide Show: Displays a slide show on the LCD.

  • Printing, Other: This menu provides access to print, and music options:
    • Print: Accesses the print options for the current image, or multiple images.
    • Music Tool: Lets you download music from your CDs or MP3 files and format music for playback during a slide show. Up to four tunes of 180 seconds each can be stored in the camera.

  • Manage Memory: The DSC-T100 has 31MB of internal memory on which you can store favorite images. You manage that memory from this menu:
    • Memory Tool: The Memory Tool menu lets you Format, Create, or Change the active folder where captured images are stored, and Copy images to, and from internal memory, and a memory card.

  • Settings: The Settings menu accesses the camera's various settings, all from one menu:
    • Main Settings: This option takes you to two screens of menus, the first offering Beep on/off, Function Guide on/off, and Initialize (or reset, without erasing internal memory) options, and the second offering USB Connect (PictBridge, Mass Storage, or Auto behavior), Component (HD (1080i) or SD (standard) output), and Video Out (NTSC, or PAL).
    • Shooting Settings: Takes you to the Shooting Settings 1, and 2 menus (cf. above).
    • Clock Settings: Sets the time and date stored internally.
    • Language Setting: Selects the language used to display menus, warnings, and messages.

 

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