Someone who owned a Sony Cyber-shot digital camera before or worked with it before will recognise the operation immediately. Compared with previous Cyber-shot digital camera's there are very few innovations made. The thing that did change is that less adjustments have to be made through the menu of the camera in stead the external buttons are used, which improves the speed of changing settings. Previous models were rather software orientated, at which scrolling through the menu was necessary to change the settings. The command dial on top of the DSC-V3 contains the main settings, and beside that we find a few buttons mainly on the back side of the camera. These buttons contain functions like flash settings, exposure compensation, macro mode, AE lock etc. Settings like aperture and shutter speed can be adjusted through a small round dial, placed in between the large command dial on top of the camera and the zoom button. Turning the small dial lets you make a choice, pressing it is confirming the choice and turning it again gives you the possibility to adjust this function as required. This manner of operation is not traditional for a so-called prosumer digital camera, but it certainly is functional. The DSC-V3's operation in fact speaks for itself, you don't need the manual because the large monitor shows everything very clearly. Maybe here and there a few symbols or slogans that are not comprehensive but in my opinion the advanced photographer should find it a piece of cake going through the menu.
Rather striking is the way of starting up, it takes over 2 seconds to get the V3 ready for taking the first image. In our opinion this can be done a lot faster, and it should even be faster. Beside that the lens system is somewhat slower than expected. It seems that Sony made its choice to put emphasis on a solid reliable way of operating rather than emphasising on speed. I think that the target group of this camera mainly seeks speed. Practice will learn if these thoughts are justified.
Normally the mayor part of the present and last generation of digital cameras have an annoying interval. The what is known as interval of release or shutter lag, can be very annoying in many situations, specially when making snapshots. The DSC-V3 however doesn't suffer from any interval of release at all. The speed of focussing is incredible, it is perfect and clear. Even focusing in low light conditions is not a problem at all for the V3, the results don't lie. Not one image fails, and ok, I must admit that sometimes it takes a while to get the right exposure in very bad light conditions but the result is perfect!
The way focussing is handled, the camera also handles the high resolution images in burst mode. The V3 has a frame rate of approximately 2.5 images per second, a maximum amount of 8 images. Compared with its predecessor the DSC-V1 (maximum of 3 images) a remarkable improvement!
The release button is placed in a logical spot: the farthest corner of the large grip. This release button has an explicit point to focus or when completely pressed down to finish taking the image. The dial is nice and large, and has the ability of turning 360° giving a clear click at every program. The small catch which shows that a program has been chosen lights up and tells you when to stop turning the dial by means of a green led. It would be handy if the indication on the command dial was better visible in the dark or in twilight; the white letters on the silver coloured command dial are somewhat difficult to read (when not enough light). The V3 is equipped with a fine size monitor and for form's sake a spot is find for the optical viewfinder. The fact the dioptre setting is lacking shows that the optical viewfinder is not a serious part anymore. Also glasses wearing users will experience that the optical viewfinder is not optimised for broad use. The glasses will clearly press against the edge of the viewfinder when trying to create a nice image.
Three leds are found next to the viewfinder. The first one shows the status of the memory compartment, if there is an error, it will be shown on the monitor. The middle one will light up when the focus is correct and the bottom one will flash orange when the internal flash is loading.
The V3's 4x optical zoom lens can be adjusted rather precisely. The lens reacts fine when touching the zoom button, however it needs 3 seconds to change from wide angle to telephoto. On the other hand we find a stable way of zooming in and the accompanied precision. It seems that the design department was caught in a fight between speed and precision. Focusing happens through the auto focus system that we are used to find in almost every camera. However it would not be Sony-like if they hadn't equipped the camera with their in-house developed Hologram AF system. The latter one is a very clever focus system with an infallible working. In other words: it's the 'killer' amongst focus systems! We will spare you the technical explanation, but it works as follows. When activating the Hologram AF the subject to capture is projected through an infrared eye with a certain pattern. The camera then uses this pattern to focus correctly. Without any exception, this system works infallibly, truly exceptional.
The built-in flash does a great job and contains default settings. The DSC-V3 is equipped with an external hot shoe with support from a full TTL metering! The Sony HVL-F32x flash also supports this function and the combination of this flash with the DSC-V3 delivers excellent performance. We were able to use this flash in practice and the images show correct exposure. Through the lens (TTL) metering used to get the optimum exposure, is no problem for the Sony HVL-F32x flash. Specially when capturing rich contrast images this combination is ideal. Images that have a dark subject on a light background don't give problems either. This flash unit is recommended for those who want to use the DSC-V3 as a versatile camera.
The Cyber-Shot DSC-V3 is a user-friendly digital camera with an incredible ease of use despite the presence of high standard techniques. Sony was able to reduce these innovative techniques to a simple automatic operation or a simple pressing the button.