Sony DSC-T90 digital camera

This super-slim Sony fashion camera takes surprisingly good photos

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Sony DSC-T90
  • Sony DSC-T90
  • Sony DSC-T90
  • Sony DSC-T90

Pros

  • Useful touch screen, good optical zoom and image stabilisation

Cons

  • Expensive, menus can be confusing

Bottom Line

We were pleasantly surprised by the image quality of the Sony DSC-T90 digital camera, with its thin body hiding a competent lens and sensor. It has a few novelty features, like a touch screen and high-definition movie recording, and the design makes it pleasant to use.

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The Sony DSC-T90 is a 12.1 megapixel ultra-compact digital camera with a 4x optical zoom lens and a large, 3in touch-screen LCD. Despite its slim design it is easy to use and the images that it produces are well balanced and vibrant.

The Sony DSC-T90 is one of the slimmest cameras on the market today, with a body that's just 15mm thick. While there’s definitely a lot of circuitry crammed into this small body, the DSC-T90 digital camera is not heavy; it only weighs around 150g with the battery inserted, which is slightly more than the Pentax Optio Z10 and less than the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1. The body is constructed from plastic with a fake metal finish and it feels well built. Its sliding front cover moves smoothly and precisely.

Snapping the front cover down reveals the 4x optical zoom Carl Zeiss lens, which has a 35mm film equivalent zoom level of 35-140mm. A maximum aperture of f3.5 means the lens is competent in low light at its widest zoom.

The only buttons on the body of the camera are a rocker for adjusting zoom levels, the all-important shutter button, playback and power. We found the on/off button redundant: flipping the cover up or down has the same effect and is easier to do than pressing the small power button on the top. All the advanced controls are accessed via touch screen. The controls are arranged around the edges of the screen, making them easy to reach with your thumbs.

The menu system is simple but often buttons aren’t labelled, so a bit of guesswork is required initially. One thing we didn’t like was the double-click method of selecting sub-menus: the first press brings up a description and a second press is required to actually enter the menu.

The Sony DSC-T90 offers good face detection, a smile shutter, intelligent scene modes and touch-screen focus point selection, making taking nice photos easier for novices and experienced users alike. The optical image stabilisation is also a boon, allowing clear shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/15th of a second.

Design and features aside, the Sony DSC-T90 is able to take competent photos with a minimum of fuss. Having a fixed lens that is able to offer optical zoom is slightly disconcerting; we’re used to telescoping lenses like the one on the chunky Olympus SP-590UZ. A film equivalent 35mm wide-angle means this camera isn’t fantastic for group shots; you’ll need to stand farther back for wide-angle photographs than if you were using something like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7. However, the 4x zoom makes the Sony DSC-T90 versatile and the photos are sharp and free of distortion.

The camera is speedy to start up and shut down; it's ready to shoot photos less than two seconds after being switched on. Its shot-to-shot performance is also good, with around 1.7 seconds elapsing between photographs. Continuous shooting mode captures a frame every 1.5 seconds.

The Sony DSC-T90’s main problem is with image noise at higher ISO settings. Like most compact cameras, it will only do its best work below ISO 800. Images at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 are especially poor with very little fine image detail visible. At ISO 400 and below the Sony DSC-T90 shines, taking consistently good quality images. We especially liked the vibrant colours, which were the most accurate and precise that we’ve seen from an ultra-slim camera in a while.

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