Sony had added a new superzoom to the world of superzooms! The brand new Cybershot H50 retains the 15X lens, but jumps in megapixels.
The march to the double-digit megapixels continues as the H9 uses a 10mp sensor, but only 9 of those are actually used by the end user (effective). This may lighten up the load on the processor and storage, but that doesn't make the actual "sensor-pixels" any bigger.
Sony has shown "restraint" by staying at 15X, while others have jumped to 18X and 20X. The Carl Zeiss name on the lens will help sell a few more cameras. It does have Super Steady Shot, which is Sony's catchall name for image stabilization. This appears to have optical IS (optical, meaning of the lens, not the sensor). And fans of conversion lenses will be thrilled to find out it supports them. Not sure which ones though.
On the gadgety aspects of the camera, it has a 3" LCD, but if it gets itchy, don't worry, it's scratch resistant ;-) It uses a LiIon battery (Sony hates AAs nowadays) with an average CIPA rating of 300, an EVF of 200K, and such.
It has face and smile detection but some other modes were not included which totally frustrates us! We were anxiously awaiting for a camera to feature frown, ponder, scowl, and wink detection! How can you possible take great portrait pictures without those features? Come on camera manufacturers, please see the light and offer these features! There is a HUGE MARKET for them!
Okay, back to reality, it does have manual exposure which is always nice, considering that these are actually cameras, not QVGA webcams. Also nice is the adjustable noise reduction which among others got both dpreview and dcresource excited. Kudos to Sony for both of these!
The Nightshot feature is playing hide and seek on Sony cameras. This time you are lucky, you found it! Improved are the DRO (dynamic range optimizer) and Sports modes.
Thanks to the extra megapixel haul, the burst mode crawls at 1.6 fps at which you can take 100 shots or so.
And if you are wondering why you haven't seen RAW mentioned yet, it's because it does not have RAW! Not that we expected it to have RAW, but in today's age, RAW should be available in every mid-range camera, just like PSAM. They are cameras after all, photographic instruments, not QVGA webcams you glue inside a laptop!
It will be available in "it came from space" shiny silver, and "sleek night gown worn at the Oscars" black. We gave the colors those names, not Sony! So don't blame Sony for the silliness :)
It will be released in the USA around May 2008 for a starting price of $400. As far as we know, it is not available for pre-ordering yet.
Coverage at photography sites
Coverage by high tech and gadget blogs
The Crunch Gear gadget blog has a video itnroduction to the Cybershot H50. Check it out!
But wait there's more! Engadget has a hands-on with the new Sony Cybershots!