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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Pro Digital Review
1/25/2005 by Keith Benicek, Chief Digital Cam Fanatic

When we first heard about the new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 it gave those of us that are fanatical photo bugs, goose bumps. It sounded very exciting just based upon the specs that Sony had published before the actual release. Early photos of the production model only added to the enthusiasm.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 ($699) is a totally new design from the ground up with the best technologies of previous models like the DSC-V1 included to make an exceptional new breed in Sony’s high-end digitals. We loved the older DSC-V1 so much that three of us went out and bought ones after reviewing it in 2004. Somehow Sony skipped a V2 model at least for North America.

Upon opening the box when if first arrived from Sony, the first thing we all noticed was the robustness of the design and construction of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3. It is made from a cast alloy body, rather than the stamped all-metal body of the older V1 (still a very durable camera). The looks and feel of the DSC-V3 reminded many of our review panel members, of top-of-the-class 35 mm Rangefinder Cameras of 50 to 60 years ago. It kinda reminded me of the Nikon S3 Olympic I bought in 1963.

First look at the Specs –
Two the best features brought over from the V1 are the stunning Carl Zeiss 34-136mm equivalent lens with 4x Optical Zoom and 4x "Smart" digital zoom; coupled with the 5-area Multi-Point Auto Focus system which evaluates 5 separate prominent subjects in the field of view, intelligently focuses on the subject, displays the selected focus point in the LCD Display, or optionally the user can choose any of the five points for manual control. Anyone can get a great shot with this pair of key features you won’t find on other comparably priced digitals.

          Click on MOST images to see enlarged view

Shutter lag is hardly apparent even at the slowest shutter speeds; you do feel like you are shooting with a zero shutter lag 35mm camera. The DSC-V3 supports the RAW and TIFF formats.

Also transferred over is Sony’s patented Hologram Laser AF Assist system, which projects a multi-pattern hologram on the subject to “map” an appropriate and insanely accurate focus. In all of our over three hundred test images, not one was out of focus.

Manual focus mode is simple to use and is the same as the older DSC-V1’s, you press the focus button and then use the command dial to choose the focus distance.

Behind the exceptional lens is the renowned Sony Super HAD 7.2 effective Mega pixel CCD (Sony is a world leader in CCD design and famous for their Endoscopic surgical cameras).

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Before I stray too far from topic of the lens, an especially great feature of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 is that it can accept a wide range of “accessory conversion lenses” including a gorgeous telephoto conversion lens (check out our accessory list). This was something that the V1 couldn’t do, regrettably.


   DSC-V3 back, hugh 2.5" LCD and well placed controls
 
 Left and Right views, clean and confortable feel in your hand

  Top view- hot shoe protected buttons and mode selector

  Bottom view- Battery, CF and Memory Stick slots, speaker.

Exposure control is very well handled by Sony’s professional camera level processor. Exposure compensation is offered from -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments for the experienced photographer. For selecting exposure modes, the DSC-V3 offers Auto, Program AE, Shutter/ Aperture priority, Manual, 8 scene modes, Setup, Movie Mode and Playback.

The menu system takes from Sony’s other top-notch SLR digital camera, the DSC-F828. . The menu is overlay-style, meaning that it’s shown on top of the subject that you are photographing.
Just to the left of the optical viewfinder port are four manual control buttons for setting Exposure, AF Area and Focus methods:

  • AE lock - locks the exposure.
  • Exposure compensation, -2EV to +2EV.
  • Focus - Auto or Manual.
  • Frame AF - Multipoint AF, Center AF
  • Flexible Spot AF, Flexible AF frame movement.

The built-in flash is centered on the body above the lens where is should be and it is designed to pop up when needed. We found that it’s pretty easy to accidentally “pop” the flash in the open mode too. Sony needs to better secure the flash closed until it is actually activated.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 also has a hot shoe for an accessory external flash and it also has an ACC port, which is where you'll plug in an HVL-F1000 flash or for use of a remote shutter release.


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