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Sony Cyber-shot DSC F717 Camera Review

November 17, 2002




Sony  DSC F717

The 5Mpixel Sony Cyber-shot F707 camera with a 5x zoom is now making way a new model named F717. But no marked changes were brought into the successor, and fans of the Sony's camcorder style can choose any. Main technical characteristics of both photo cameras are compared in the following table.
 

model:
Sony Cyber-shot DSC F717
Sony Cyber-shot DSC F707
matrix
2/3" 14 bit, 5.24 Mp, 2560*1920 frame (4.91 Mp)
iso eqv.
100, 200, 400, 800
100, 200, 400
lens
Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar f/d 2-2.4; f = 9.7-48.5 mm (eqv. 38-190 mm), 58 mm filter
file
TIFF, JPEG (EXIF2.2), MPEG max. HQX 320*240 16 fps unlimited
TIFF, JPEG (EXIF1.1), MPEG max. HQ 320*240 16 fps up to 15 s
focusing
passive (contrast), laser backlight, 5 selective points
passive (contrast), laser backlight, 3 points
exposure metering
Multi-Pattern (49 segment), Center-Weighted, and Spot 
exposures
30 s - 1/1000 s, in auto and aperture priority 1/2000 s, 46 steps
30 s - 1/1000 s
Automatic forced noise elimination
from 1/25 s
from 2 s
interface
USB2.0
USB1.1
external flash
hot shoe, Sony connector
Sony connector
flash
iso 100 eqv. 0.5 - 5 m
display
1.8 " TFT 123000
weight
659 g
667 g

On the photo hardware level, lens/matrix, there are no changes. But we've got higher sensitivity of ISO800, a short exposure of 1/2000 s at a more or less "closed" aperture in the auto modes, faster USB, a white balance for the incandescent lamp, and "fluorescent" instead of "indoors", Multi Burst mode, unlimited MPEG HQX instead of a 15sec one. But the most useful features are histograms in shooting and viewing modes, a hot shoe and 5 selective focusing points. The zoom and manual focusing control system is changed. The two-position zoom switch is now horizontal, and the focusing ring can control zoom in the auto focus mode which photographers are accustomed to. There is still a 2x zoom - the faster you turn the switch, the faster the zooming.


Sony DSC F707 F717

The buttons are the same, though placed differently. The F707 is on the left, and the F717 is on the right. The bigger ribs of the focusing ring of the F707 make the grasp easier, and the camera's color attracts less attention of strangers. With the F717 you can use an ordinary flash instead of a special one, like for the F707, -  HVL-F1000 with a sync cord for the Sony ACC connector which also supports a remote control. The built-in flash can pop up automatically. In all modes except the auto one (priorities, manual exposure) the built-in flash works at exposure values allowing for daylight illumination (they are long, and shots will most likely be blurred if a tripod or back lighting are not used). 


Sony DSC F707

The battery pack uses the infoLITHIUM battery Sony Stamina NP-FM50 7.2 V, 8.5 W which must suffice for 2500 shots and 2.5 hours of operation until next charging (according to SONY for the F707). On the back we have an optical viewfinder and a display, display mode buttons, a menu button, a viewfinder/display switch, a multiselector for menu navigation and flash modes, shot viewing mode, timer and macromode. Under the viewfinder is a door hiding an external power connector and a video/audio output.


Sony Cyber-Shot DSC F717

Next to the release button is an exposure correction button (a small one) and a settings selector (exposure, aperture, exposure correction which is selected by pressing). Shooting modes: manual exposure, shutter speed, aperture priority, flexible program, green zone, scene (twilight, twilight portrait, landscape and portrait), video. Additional positions of the disc selector: camera's settings and viewing mode. Next to the mode switch and the power arm there are a microphone and a speaker. Below, the casing incorporates a NightFraming-NightShot lever. In the nightframing and nightshot modes the camera uses infrared shooting (an IR filter is mechanically removed from the optical system). In the former mode after framing in the IR range the IR filter returns to its position when the release button is pressed, the flash turns on and the camera makes a shot, and in the latter mode the camera shoots in the IR mode. The nightframing is meant for only one possible shot - after concealed aiming the flash clicks giving light while popping up (if it isn't raised in advance).  


Sony Cyber-Shot DSC F717


Sony Cyber-Shot DSC F717

The lens has two infrared illuminator LEDs (above) and a laser illuminator of the holographic "assistant" of passive focusing (on the side). Modulated light of the laser backlight creates an accurate picture on the target for the auto focus (the recommended distance from the object is 4.5 m).


Sony DSC 717

The same shot in the normal and nightshot modes. 



Sony Cyber-Shot DSC F717


Sony Cyber-Shot DSC F717

The body of the camera is just a small part of the lens, that is why the tripod's socket and the USB connector are located on the latter. The tripod connector has a locking hole beside a threaded one which is important for such a weighty and lengthy camera. The body can rotate around its horizontal axis (at the right angle to the lens's axis) by 77 degrees upward and 36 downward, which lets you raise the camera above or lower it. A round connector behind the flash is an ACC connector of the remote control and of the flash. As now we have a hot shoe the flash and remote control can be used simultaneously.

Menu


Menu F717

Manual focusing (0.34 m), histogram, shutter priority F:8.0, 1 s exposure with enabled noise elimination, 2560 Fine file, exposure correction 0

Menu F717

Viewing. Multi burst, slideshow, magnification, DPOF (Attach DPOF printing information to image), deletion, protection from accidental erasure. A shot can be rotated or resized and video can be divided into two clips.

Menu F717

One of the scenes is night shooting.

Menu F717

Shot rotation.

Menu F717

Possible frame sizes.

Menu F717

Movie modes: MPEG movie, GIF animation, and series of shots. Other settings: adjustable data/time, digital zoom, redeye reduction, hologram autofocus mode, add-on lens.

Menu F717

Photo shooting formats: TIFF, sound, shot for E-Mail, exposure bracketing, burst, normal. In the BURST3 mode you can get 3 shots at a little more than 1 sec.

Menu F717

Second page of settings: image enlargement in manual focusing mode, bracket step, hot shoe, direction of rotation of the zooming ring. Next menu page (memory card shown): formatting, folder to store shots in (creation, editing). 

Menu F717

Shooting effects.

Menu F717

Adjustment of display and sound.

Menu F717

Flash power adjustment.

Menu F717

System settings: file number, USB (normal and PTP), video out (NTSC/PAL), language, clock/date.

Tests 

Shooting of the resolution chart in transient light.

Sony DSC 717

Edge and center of the TIFF frame for f = 9.7 mm, f/d = 8. Fragment 1:1. Exposure 1/13 s, noise elimination forcedly enabled. Coordinates of the center of the radial resolution chart for the frame edge: x = 116 y = 142, for the frame center: x = 1285 y = 820. On the edge there are geometrical distortion and chromatic aberration. Noise. Automatic noise reduction works forcedly starting from 1/25 s. Fragments 1:1 of JPEG FINE files.
Sony DSC 717

ISO 100, exposure 1 s. 
Sony DSC 717

ISO 800, exposure 1/8 s. 

Sony DSC 717

ISO 100, exposure 1/8 s. Nightshot mode. The black coloring matter is almost unnoticeable in IR light.
Sony DSC 717

Miniature, f = 9.7 mm, 1/8 s, 1.7 MB JPEG shot here

In the macro mode at f = 9.8 mm it's possible to focus on an object with 5.2 cm along the long side of the frame, at f = 48.5 mm - 16 cm. 


Sony DSC 717

Miniature, f = 48.5 mm, 1/30 s, 2 MB JPEG shot here

In the BURST 3 mode a series of 3 JPEG FINE shots of the maximum size can be taken at a bit more than 1 sec, the next series is in 12 s. In the normal shooting mode (auto focus, auto exposure, exposure 1/125 s) such files can be shot in at least 2 sec.

Software

The camera comes with software for delivering data into the computer (USB driver, Image Transfer) and for processing data on PC (Pixelia Imagemixer). With the Imagemixer you can look through digital shots and video/audio clips, edit them a little, create digital multimedia albums, printable templates with frames and text, shoot video and make photos on PC via USB.




Focusing errors

On the Sony's site you can find information that the below listed cameras can have focusing errors in certain situations (focusing mode with hologram backlight Hologram AF, the lens is set into the long-focus position, an object is located too close to the camera and scarcely illuminated):

1320001-1320404 
1320407 
1320409-1320422 
1320424-1320425 
1320427-1320430 
1320432 
1320434-1320440 
1320442-1320463 
1320465-1320468 
1320470-1334250 
1334801-1334900 
1335251-1337694 
1337883-1338610 
1339051-1339550 

In this case you should go to the service center to have your Hologram AF parameters corrected.

Sergei Sherbakov (sherbakovs@rambler.ru)


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