The Cyber-shot DSC-F707 is Sony’s first venture into 5-megapixel territory. With a similar look to the now defunct F505V model, it’s odd to look at – essentially a lens with a body attached. It isn’t too heavy (700g), with the Carl Zeiss 5x optical zoom lens responsible for about half of this, and is comfortable to use with two hands. The lens portion can swivel through 113 degrees vertically – useful for seeing the rear 4.5cm LCD at almost any angle – and the most common controls, including the zoom rocker button, are situated along the lens body. There’s even a manual mode and focus ring. Extremes of lighting cause problems for digital-still cameras. Too little light and it’s almost impossible to focus and take a half-decent photo. Too much, and the LCD is unusable – with the optical viewer showing only a non-zoomed image. The F707 has good answers to these. For low-light situations, the innovative Hologram autofocus (AF) feature produces a crosshatched pattern of bright-red lines on the subject. Invisible to the eye, this grid gives the camera a reference to focus on. Additionally, the F707 has through-the-lens (TTL) flash metering, where the camera fires the flash twice. The exposure is measured the first time and the photo taken the second. This is so fast as to be barely noticeable. Night-shots
For zero-light conditions, Sony has introduced a first on a digital-still camera: Nightshot. Using infrared (IR) illumination and an IR filter, it can take green-hued photos in absolute darkness. It also features NightFraming where the Nightshot mode is used for composing the image, then turned off for Hologram AF to focus and the flash to double-fire. The result is colour photos in zero-light conditions. Impressive. And if daylight is too bright, the viewfinder is electronic and duplicates the LCD – almost like an SLR mode. Other useful facilities include an external flash shoe-mount; a three-shot burst-mode with varied exposures; in-camera sharpening; image sizes up to 2,560-x-1,920 pixels (including a TIFF mode); three auto-exposure modes; anti-red eye flash; MPEG movie and animated GIF modes; and USB transfer.


The 4.5m range for the pop-up flash, allied with the Hologram AF and Nightshot features, lead to good photos irrespective of lighting conditions. Image quality was excellent with decent dynamic range, detail, and realistic colours. The battery-life rating of 2.5 hours was confirmed, and while the included 16MB Memory Stick is only good for half a dozen images, 128MB cards are readily available. If you’re a professional photographer seeking lots of manual facilities, the F707 is probably not for you.If, however, you want excellent, high-resolution image-quality from a camera that’s a pleasure to use, the F707 comes highly recommended.

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