Sony T300 Review Part Two

Sony T300

Week One

Ok, so at the end of my first week with the Sony Cybershot T300, how have we been getting on? Well, just dandy as it happens.

Sony T300 cover
The T300 in one of many
Cybershot cases

One of the first outings the little Sony accompanied me on was a trip to London, ironically, for the Launch of another manufacturer's new SLR. I was concerned that if I was spotted using a competitors product at the launch I would, at best, be ejected from the premises or, at worst, shot for treason. I needn't have worried. Despite being encased in a pouch to prevent that whopping screen being damaged, clumsy oaf that I am, the camera still sat easily in my shirt pocket, meaning that I could discreetly whip it out to take the occasional photograph without fear of being rumbled.

With the business of the day over, I'd arranged to meet my brother in the evening. A combination of me finishing earlier than anticipated and my brother taking longer to do his hair than the average Miss World contestant meant that I had some time to myself as I waited for him in Trafalgar Square. Having spent so much time passing through London recently, it's easy to forget what a tourist friendly place it is, so I decided to make use of my time and the T300 by taking a few snaps in and around the square.

There was a large screen by Nelson's Column showing some of the recent successes of the British athletes at the Paralympics in Beijing and promoting anticipation of The British Paralympic Association's involvement in the London 2012 Olympics. It seemed a little out of place amongst the ornate stonework of Nelson's Column and the fountains of Trafalgar Square, but the bright light of the screen juxtaposed against the muted tones of the evening sky over London suggested a potential photo opportunity. Out came the T300.

trafalfar square at dusk

Trafalgar at dusk

At first, I was a little disappointed. You see, like most digital cameras, when you take a picture with the Sony T300 the recorded image is briefly displayed on the screen, and it just didn't look that great. It looked soft and lacking in detail. Convinced I must have missed something, I pressed the "play" button on the top of the camera to review the image. This time round there was no problem at all. The image shown was crisp and clear and exactly as I would expect, given the pedigree of the Sony's Carl Zeiss lens. I can only assume that the immediate image playback is displayed at a lower quality to maximise speed. Satisfied that the Sony was up to the job, I wondered around taking a few more shots.

trafalgar square museum
The National Gallery

Quite often in these subdued lighting conditions, compact cameras struggle to meter correctly, usually opting to overexpose the image. The Sony made no such mistake. The images you see here are entirely accurate and representative of the light at the time. You really can't ask for better than that.

Victoria Tower
Victoria Tower from Trafalgar Square

Where the Sony doesn't do brilliantly is no light, high ISO images. Like most compact cameras with tiny sensors, image noise can be a problem, so where possible it is better to use the cameras inbuilt flash when ambient light levels are poor.

train station platform
Wouldn't "Mind the trains" be more useful?

On the train home from London it occurred to me that I had another reason to be grateful for the size of the T300 and the fact it was so easy and discreet to use. Not once while taking pictures of London's national monuments or transport information signs was I approached by anybody asking me what I was doing or asking if I had permission to be photographing whatever it was I was photographing. Obviously neither the Sony camera nor I appear to represent much of a threat to national security.

If photographing the nation's capital didn't get me noticed by the authorities then the destination of my next trip was certain to: a local shopping mall on a Saturday. Surely some jobsworth in an ill-fitting suit would challenge me for taking undercover photographs of the pick and mix without a permit? Nope, not so much as a disapproving look.

Chaperfield Mall grounds
Chapelfield shopping centre, Norwich. Photographer friendly, or just oblivious?

"Ok, "I thought to myself, "just how far can I take this?"

trafalgar square museum
"Ooh, that's nice,
and that's nice, and...

So, bold as brass, with little or no thought for my own personal safety, camera in hand I strolled into that den of vipers, The Build A Bear Workshop. With only my girlfriend's daughter as cover, I proceeded to take pictures of the bright and gaudy bear-sized outfits adorning the walls. Some of them needed to be seen to be believed, so I photographed them.

And then, just when I thought I'd seen all there was to see, I stumbled across a container of bear carcasses, their limp, lifeless bodies lying in piles. Oh, the horror! So I photographed them.

box of teddy bears
...AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!"

The following evening, the children were out in the garden when I heard a shriek and "Daddy! Come and see this huge spider!"

Maybe they wanted me to move it, or maybe thought that it would be an ideal subject to test the Sony T300's macro capability. Far more likely, though, is that knowing I absolutely positively can not stand spiders, they thought it would be fun to freak me out. Children are like dogs; you should never show them your fear. That said, there was no way I was going to actually touch the thing, so, holding my breath and trying to hide the nervous tremors, I crept up to the monster with the T300 set to "Close Up".

spider
     A vicious wee beastie.                                           ...An enlargement of the original image. Urgh.

Anyone that isn't afraid of spiders is clearly mental. Look at the ruddy thing! But flippin' heck, that's not a bad macro for a little compact camera. Just to make sure that I hadn't fluked the picture and to get away from the arachnid as quickly as possible I returned inside and set up a couple of test shots using the T300's macro capability. Once again, I was hugely impressed.

clock

 

ruler

For a compact camera costing less than £200, this macro performance is phenomenally good. The extra-close-up setting of the Sony fixes the zoom to wide-angle but provides a minimum focussing distance of 1cm from the subject! Imagine the possibilities that having this pocket sized performance with you wherever you go will open up. This camera could sell itself on its macro capabilities alone, and yet it offers so much more.

I'm really starting to enjoy this camera. I wonder what the next few days will hold in store?

Read Part One
Read Part Three