Cell phone with integrate camera Feb. 25, 2008 - Sony’s H-series of compact digital cameras are known for their sleek looks, long zooms, and easy-to-use features, which make the cameras ideal for point-and-shooters looking to upgrade to a more serious model. Sony today announced its H50, the follow-up to last year’s H9. The 9.1-megapixel model features a 15x optical zoom, a 3-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD screen, and a number of Sony’s new features and in-camera editing options. The H50 will retail for $399 when it is released in early May.
The H50 comes at a much lower introductory price compared to its predecessor, the H9, an 8.1-megapixel model that retailed for $479 when it was released last spring. The 9.1-megapixel Super HAD CCD Bionz processor H50 keeps the same 15x optical zoom with optical image stabilization, along with the same 3-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD that flips out and extends from the camera body. On a camera with this much zoom, image stabilization is key, since more zoom often equals more camera shake and blurred images.
In addition to optical image stabilization, the H50 also has an increased High Sensitivity ISO 3200 to further reduce blur – Sony refers to this combined with image stabilization as “Double Anti-Blur Technology.” It also features an electronic viewfinder with diopter adjustment for users with eyeglasses.
Sony's Night Shot is also found on the H50, which provides infrared illumination to help shoot in low-light situations without using the built-in pop-up flash. Night Shot has its own switch on the top of the camera.
As in the H9, the H50 features Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO), which aims to automatically recover details in highlights and shadows for evenly-exposed images. The H50 includes a new DRO Advanced mode, allowing users to adjust specific areas of a photo for greater accuracy.
Sony adds its new “Real” Color mode to the H50, which is meant to capture colors in images accurately, with minimal in-camera processing. This is a benefit for users who would rather edit their photos in post-capture editing software like Photoshop.
Although it looks and feels like a more professional model, the H50 maintains a number of features that will make it attractive to point-and-shooters looking to upgrade from their pocket cameras. The Intelligent Scene Recognition (iSCN) automatically recognizes shooting conditions for six scenes, including basics like Portrait and Landscape, and automatically sets the camera to optimize image quality, without forcing the user to switch to the appropriate scene on the mode dial.
Face detection and Sony’s Smile Shutter are both upgraded on the H50. Face detection can now prioritize recognition on up to eight child or adult faces, and Smile Shutter can be set to snap a photo only when the child smiles, the baby smiles, the adult smiles, or when all three smile. An “Easy” shooting mode goes even further than Auto mode, blocking out the majority of options for the most simplistic shooting possible.
In-camera editing options include “Unsharp Mask,” a sharpening option found in Photoshop software. A “Smile” feature also allows users to edit frowns into smiles post-capture. We tested this out on the DSC-T300 at this year’s PMA and found it to be a little creepy and Joker-esque, but it may work well when used in moderation.
A new Slide Show mode offers more transition and music effect options, and images can be searched and categorized by face, date, and favorites, ensuring users will never have to search long for a stored photo. As on the H9, the H50 includes HD-output for viewing on HDTVs.
The H50 accepts Memory Stick Duo/PRO Duo/High-Speed PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo media, and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It has a Movie mode that records an industry-standard 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 at 30 frames per second with audio.