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Sony DSC-S50

Sony makes a compact 2.1 megapixel digicam with full movie/sound capability!

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 4/12/2000

Sony's new DSC-S50 is an very compact little camera, especially when compared to the floppy-based Sony digicams like the FD-88 and FD-91. But its small frame packs a host of features, including the very nice LCD monitor which we'll get into a little more later. The all plastic body keeps the S50 very lightweight at 13 ounces (370 g) excluding the battery pack. Measuring 4.5 x 2.75 x 2.76 inches (113 x 68 x 69mm), the S50 should fit into most coat pockets and purses. With its accompanying wrist strap, we're pretty sure you won't leave this one behind.

The front of the S50 sports a slightly protruding lens barrel, the lens of which is protected by a removable lens cap. The rest of the camera front is very cleanly designed, with a large finger grip on the side and the built-in flash also present.

The entire right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) is taken up by the battery compartment/MemoryStick slot. We heartily approve of these two living side by side, as it makes card and battery changes a snap when mounted to a tripod. Both are easy to get to and the sliding, protective door works very smoothly.

The opposite side of the camera mainly features the Video In and USB jacks, beneath a small rubber flap that snaps into place. Otherwise, the lens barrel defines the contour of most of this side.

The shutter release button, mode dial, speaker and microphone all live on the top side of the camera, which has a very smooth surface other than the minor protrusion of the mode control.

All of the camera controls, except those previously mentioned, are on the back panel with the LCD. Let us first mention the extremely flexible LCD monitor which actually lifts up off of the back panel and flips upward 180 degrees. The LCD also has a swivel top that lets you turn it back around to face the camera operator: Pretty nifty, especially for self portraits. It also can be turned to face into the back of the camera and latched in place for safe transport. Aside from the LCD monitor, the zoom control, power switch, DC input, menu controls, flash button, etc. can be found on the back panel. We liked the fact that the LCD monitor has its own backlight adjustment on the back panel (bright/normal), although you do have to go through the settings menu for finer-grained brightness adjustment. There's also a rocker switch for volume control, more convenient when playing back movies than rummaging through the settings menu.

The S50's bottom is very flat and relatively featureless with the exception of the metal tripod mount, set as close to the lens as was possible. The proximity between the lens and tripod mount is good for panorama shooting, but having the socket positioned so far forward on the camera bottom makes for a less stable mount on some tripod heads. We appreciate Sony's use of a rugged metal investment casting for the tripod socket, which we view as being far superior to the structural plastic sockets used on many digicams. As we mentioned earlier, we also applaud the design of the S50's battery compartment and card slot, allowing us to easily change out both while using a tripod. Many digicam manufacturers place these slots on the bottom of the camera, which can be very inconvenient.

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