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Sony CyberShot DSC-P30

Sony develops an affordable, full-featured 1.3-megapixel compact digicam with great picture quality!

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 4/9/2001

At first glance, the P30 looks a lot like its higher end predecessor, the DSC-P1. The P30 features the same shape and styling, but is quite a bit bigger. (About 4x the overall volume, with individual length, width, and height dimensions being anywhere from 40 to 100 percent larger.) Weight is about the same, and despite the greater bulk, the new camera should have little trouble sliding in and out of shirt pockets. Its accompanying wrist strap makes it easy to tote along on any outing. The overall design is clean and uncluttered. From the outset, you'll notice that the camera sports very few external controls, meaning that most of the camera's functions are menu driven. The case is plastic and the front and back panels feel a little lightweight, but the heavier plastic of the sides and bottom helps contribute to a sense of solidity. Let's take a quick look around the camera.

The front of the P30 features the lens, optical viewfinder window, self-timer LED, AF illuminator, and flash. A thin, sculpted finger grip protrudes from the left of the camera front, providing a nice tight hold as your fingers curve around the side. Unlike the P1, the P30's lens is stationary and does not telescope from the camera body when powered on. A set of 37mm filter threads inside the lip of the lens barrel accommodates Sony's variety of accessory lens kits. A spring-loaded, snap-on plastic lens cap protects the lens, and features a small tether to attach it to the camera and prevent it from being lost.

On the right side of the camera, when looking from the rear, are the battery compartment, Memory Stick slot, and wrist strap attachment eyelet. The battery compartment slides outward before opening, and features a small button that unlocks the compartment door. The battery compartment hosts either two AA batteries, which ship with the camera, or an optional NP-FS11 InfoLITHIUM battery pack that comes with an AC adapter/recharger. A hinged, plastic door covers the Memory Stick slot and opens downward. We highly approve of the location of both compartments, as the side access allows you to change batteries or Memory Sticks while mounted to a tripod.

The opposite side of the camera is fairly plain, featuring only the USB and Video Out jacks. Both jacks are covered by a flexible rubber flap that opens upward and remains attached to the camera body.

The shutter button, mode dial, and power button are all located on the top panel. A small speaker plays back camera operating sounds. Next to the power button, a small LED light glows solid green when the camera is powered on, and orange when the battery is charging. The mode dial controls the camera's operating mode, with options of Twilight, Record, Playback, Movie, and Setup.

The remaining exposure controls are located on the back panel, as well as the LCD monitor, optical viewfinder eyepiece, and DC In jack. The optical viewfinder eyepiece is a bit smaller than average, and does not include a diopter control for those with less than 20-20 vision; but it does have a high enough eyepoint that it should pose no challenge to eyeglass wearers. Three LEDs next to the eyepiece report the camera's status. The bottom LED glows orange when the flash is charged, and flashes while it is charging. The center, green LED lights solid when focus is set, and flashes when the autofocus system is having trouble focusing (meaning you should switch to macro or move back from the target). The top LED glows red when the camera is accessing the Memory Stick, and blinks during the self-timer countdown. Camera controls on the back panel include the optical zoom toggle button, Display button, Menu button, and a four-way rocker pad that doubles as the external controls for Flash, Quick Review, Macro, Self-Timer, and OK/Select buttons. A DC In jack in the bottom left corner is covered by a flexible rubber flap that remains attached to the camera when opened.

The P30 features a relatively flat bottom, holding the tripod mount and a tiny Reset switch. The tripod mount has sturdy metal threads, and is slightly off center, but not too far from the camera's center of gravity. The recessed Reset switch resets all the camera's settings to their factory defaults.

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