Review Based on the five megapixel Sony P100, the P150 is a handsomely pocketable digicam and the first ultra-compact digicam with a resolution - 7.2 megapixels - normally the preserve of professional or high-end 'prosumer' models, writes Doug Harman.
At 10.8 x 5.2 x 2.6cm and weighing 145g including its InfoLithium rechargeable battery, the P150 is a remarkable little camera. And it's fast. Once you've pressed the top plate on/off button, it's ready to shoot very quickly, and comes with almost no shutter lag.
Although the camera is only around an inch thick, it's easy to use thanks to a logical control layout that provides separate controls for key functions, such as adjusting resolution. A separate Menu button allows you to control shooting options like as white balance, AutoFocus (you can use a single, spot AF or five-area multi-AF) and exposure compensation (to +/-2EV).
Disappointingly, I found the Multi-AF to be a tad prone to focusing on the 'wrong' part of the frame. Switching to single AF helped sort this out, though. The P150's built-in flash is effective as a fill-in but, given the camera's compact dimensions, it lacks power for meatier illumination.
A small mode dial on the camera's back plate is spun to select options such as Set Up, an Auto shooting mode, Program, Manual, Movie recording (at 640 x 480 resolution, 30fps) and provides access to nine scene modes, which include Portrait, Snow, Landscape and a Firework modes among others. Images are stored on Sony Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro.
One of the recognised problems of cramming so many pixels into such a small space - the P150 uses a 1/1.8in Super HAD CCD - is increased image noise, essentially caused by electrical interference between the densely packed pixels. It can become evident as random red and/or blue pixels in images shot in low light for example or in some areas of uniform colour in a shot.
Sony has worked hard to minimise the problem on the P150 and it is surprisingly well controlled. But it's still evident in some shots. However, on the plus side, the P150's high resolution enables prints easily up to A3 - if you require them. Even so, this still looks like overkill given users of such compact cameras typically only print 'standard' 10 x 15cm (6 x 4in) prints.
The above notwithstanding, metering and colour control are good and although the camera's default sharpening mode leaves images looking a tad soft and a slight blue pixel fringing is evident in areas of high contrast, image quality is pretty good overall.
To aid printing, the P150 is PictBridge-compliant for direct printing with compatible printers, so you don't need a PC, and it has fast USB 2.0 connectivity for hooking up other devices.
Beautifully made, the Sony P150 is a classy little camera that offers a level of resolution not normally the preserve of such small digicams. Despite some image noise, fringing and a slight softness to 'standard' images, the camera offers an accomplished specification, a modicum of manual control and fast operation all within a camera that easily fits into a shirt pocket - all at a reasonable price, too.
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC P150|
|Pros||— Ultra-compact digicam with good metering, great colour, excellent brushed metal build, great specification and optics with responsive handling.|
|Cons||— Slightly soft images and some image noise with blue pixel fringing are concerns, but not enough of a problem to show up on 'normal' sized prints.|
|More info||The Sony UK website|
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