The Sony DSC T33 is a five megapixel, ultra compact digital camera. This style of digital camera is pretty easy to use and is not weighed down with features that you are unlikely to use. With this in mind the DSC T33 is likely to appeal to anyone who is looking for a camera that looks good, is easy to carry around and can cover all the normal photo opportunities you are likely to encounter at social gatherings, on holiday as well as shots for the family album.
99.4 x 60.9 x 20.7mm
In terms of picture quality there were some excellent shots produced by the DSC T33 during the tests, but there were also areas where I was left feeling disappointed.
I was very impressed with the first test shot. This is a shot of some boats down on the river. This tests the way a camera copes with a scene where there are a number of both very light and very dark areas. Often you find that there is a loss of detail, especially in the darker areas of the shot. I felt that this camera handles the scene very well and the colours come out strongly too. It is the second test shot where I start to worry. In this shot there is a tree on the far right hand side of the shot. The tree really lacks detail and I feel that the entire shot is not as sharp as I think it should be.
The result of the colour test is very good. This means that you should be able to take pictures that have vibrant colours and you should feel confident that scenes will be faithfully reproduced as you saw them when taking the picture.
I indoor tests produced mixed results. The shot of a group of bottles shows that the DSC T33 can focus very well in difficult lighting situations. In fact this is one of the sharpest shots I have managed to take with this test. The indoor portrait though was not as sharp as I was expecting. The camera also struggles to overcome redeye.
The macro shot is acceptable, although there is evidence of purple fringing around the watch.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
Shutter lag is the time it takes to take each picture. A constant criticism of digital cameras is the delay in between clicking the shutter button, the picture being taken and also the camera being ready to take the next picture. From a pure shutter lag view the DSC T33 took a picture and recorded it in 0.23 seconds. This is a relatively new test, so I feel a degree of caution is called for, but I have to say early indications are that this is a very fast time.
In terms of recycling times I was able to take five pictures in the space of 6.87 seconds. That works out at a rate of 1.37 seconds per picture. I am not claiming that this is the most scientific tests, but it should give you an indication of the recycling speed of the camera. This is one of the fastest recycling times to date. My test is carried out indoors under standard conditions and it is possible that you would see better results outside.
The DSC T33 has a three times optical zoom lens. The zoom is the equivalent of a 38-114mm zoom on a traditional 35mm camera. The lens is a high quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar. This is supported by a six times digital zoom and a twelve times smart zoom feature. For close up work there is a magnifying glass mode that can get you in as close as 1cm from the subject.
For composing your photos there is a large 2.5" LCD screen. This is also used to access the camera's menu system. There is no viewfinder.
You can select from four flash modes. These are automatic, always on, always off and slow synchro. In automatic mode the camera decides whether or not the flash is required. Slow synchro is often used at night when you would like the background to be illuminated as well as the foreground. Red eye reduction is available too. The range of the flash unit is limited. The maximum distance is just 1.7 meters. To help the camera focus in low light there is a Auto Focus (AF) Illuminator.
To help you take the best possible shot the DSC T33 has a number of preprogrammed scene modes. All you need to do is select the most appropriate one for the picture you are about to take. The scene modes are Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Snow, Beach, High-speed shutter, Fireworks, Candle and Magnifying Glass.
There are a couple of useful indicators as well. The first is a hand shake alert. This warns you if the camera is not being held steadily enough and is likely to produce a blurred image. The second indicator is a histogram.
You can shoot TV quality movies with the DSC T33. The maximum resolution available is 640x480. These can be shot at a rate of 30 frames per second. The duration of each movie is only limited by the capacity of the memory card.
There are a number of controls that you can use that will affect the way the final image looks. These include being able to adjust the sharpness, contrast and saturation levels or shooting in sepia or black and white. You can also select from white balance settings of Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent and Flash. Exposure compensation (+/-2.0 EV, 1/3 EV step) is available too. There are two types of metering you can choose from, multi pattern and spot. Shutter speeds range from 1 to 1/1000 seconds and there are ISO equivalent settings of Auto, 100, 200 and 400. There is a continuous shooting or burst mode. This allows you to take a shot every .33 seconds for a maximum of four shots.
All the necessary software and cables are supplied by Sony to connect the DSC T33 to a computer, television and PictBridge compatible printer. A cradle comes with the camera to use when you are connecting to an outside source. The cradle is also used to attach the camera to a tripod. I must admit that I found this less than ideal.
Ease of Use
The Sony DSC T33 is very easy to use. In fully automatic mode all you need to do is turn the camera on and start taking pictures. If you would like to take advantage of the camera's more advanced functions then you should find the menu system perfectly accessible. The controls and buttons on the back of the camera are more or less self explanatory and all in all it shouldn't take you long at all to be fully up and running.
You can pick up a Sony DSC T33 for around £235. This compares to around £170 for a Konica Minolta Dimage X50, £215 for a Casio EXILIM EX Z55 and £230 for a Canon IXUS 50.
This is an attractive ultra compact digital camera. Very slim, it should fit into a pocket or small purse without a problem. Typically rectangular in shape it is given its own distinctive look by the lens being sited in the top right hand corner. The main feature on the back of the camera is the large 2.5" LCD screen.
The DSC T33 has dimensions of 99.4x60.9x20.7mm. It weighs in at a lightweight 125g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied to the camera by a rechargeable infoLithium battery. Sony supplies both the battery and a charger with the DSC T33. A rechargeable battery will help to keep running costs down, but you need to ensure that the battery is fully charged before setting off to take any important shots. There is a battery level indicator that appears on the LCD screen. This estimates the number of minutes of power left in the battery and is a useful guide to when the battery needs to be charged.
Sony are more generous than most by supplying a 32mb Memory Stick Duo with the DSC T33. Even so I would advise you to consider buying a high capacity card to go with the camera. Taking five megapixel pictures or shooting short video clips will soon fill up the card supplied. Click here to save money on SD Cards
Points I like:
Slim design makes it easy to carry around
Good build quality
Short shutter lag and recycle times
Where it is not so hot:
Difficult to use the camera with a tripod
Redeye is a problem with indoor portrait shots
The DSC T33 is marginally the most expensive five megapixel, ultra compact digital camera available at the time of writing. I must confess though to being a little disappointed by the results. In terms of features and style it is up there with the best of them, but to my mind the picture quality means that other models offer better value. Take a look at the Canon IXUS 50 and the cheaper Konica Minolta Dimage X50.
Sony DSC T33 Front View
Sony DSC T33 Back View
Sony DSC T33 Top View
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