Slimline and handy camera

The latest in Sony's T-series line of slim digital still cameras, the DSC-T100, packs an 8.1 megapixel image sensor, five times optical zoom and a big 3-inch LCD display on the back. We got a chance to use the camera for a couple of weeks and ended up with some great looking pictures and a favourable impression.

It's a handsome camera thanks, in large part, to its brushed aluminium face and the large display on the back. Users can switch it on by sliding a cover down to reveal the lens, and off by doing the opposite. The camera starts up quickly and is almost immediately ready to take a picture.

The 8-megapixel image sensor Sony has fitted into the camera is quite generous. In fact, users will probably want to set it to a lower resolution for day-to-day photography because that much resolution isn't needed for most pictures.

An 8-megapixel image works out at 3264 pixels x 2448 pixels and occupies about 2MB of space compared with 1.5MB for a 5-megapixel image. Users will also be able to store more on a Memory Stick Duo card or the camera's built-in 31MB of memory.

While 8 megapixels for day-to-day shooting is not necessary, it does come in handy if users want to capture something at a distance. When the camera's optical zoom hits its limit then a top resolution image should mean users can still zoom in a little on the image when it's on their PC and end up with a good shot.

Our biggest complaint about this camera is Sony's claims that this camera has a high-definition TV output. That would be a good thing - most cameras output a standard definition signal when hooked up to an HDTV so users end up looking at a VGA resolution image. But the T100 doesn't do high-definition out of the box. Users will need to buy a cable or a docking station. Sony does warn prospective buyers of this - it's in the fine print on the box - but it still would make us feel a little shortchanged.

Cables aside, the T100 is a very portable camera. We spent a week walking around with it in a jacket pocket and its size and weight, at 141g, meant we often forgot it was there.

There's a great magnifying mode that brings the macro focus down to 1cm from the subject. There's image stabilization and it runs on Sony's Bionz image processor and has a face detection system so the subjects' faces are always in focus. A fully charged battery will last about 380 images.