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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50

>> Friday, December 26, 2008

Slightly smaller than the average digital SLR, the H50 is fairly lightweight for its class at just under a pound, but it's obviously not compact enough to put in a pocket. It's available in black or silver with a mix of plastic and metal parts, and the strap attachment loops on each side of the camera swivel, letting the camera point straight down when around your neck.

The large hand grip makes carrying it comfortable, though the lens puts a chunk of the weight out front, throwing the balance off a bit. At the front of the grip sits the shutter button, followed by metering and burst or bracketing mode buttons, and the mode dial. Your thumb rests naturally on the zoom rocker switch on back.

Below the rocker is a context sensitive Menu button, a Home button for full access to settings, and between them a wheel dial surrounding a directional pad and an OK button for navigating menus. The directional pad doubles as controls for flash, timer, macro, and display options, and the wheel dial lets you quickly change ISO, shutter speed, and aperture in manual mode.

The 3 inch tilting LCD is definitely a highlight of the H50, because it allows so much freedom when shooting subjects at both high and low angles. It also performs well in direct sunlight. A button at the top left of the screen, however, toggles between the LCD and EVF a better option in bright sun and when using the long zoom sans tripod.

Dialing through the H50's various modes and exploring the accompanying shooting options reveals just how versatile this camera is. Point and shoot basics like scene modes with Sony's intelligent scene recognition, Smile Shutter, face detection, ISO boost for low light shooting, and an oversimplified Easy mode are all available, letting you hand the camera over to anyone to take pictures.

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