Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 Review
As the first camera to be released as part of a new budget range of stylish cameras from Sony, the Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is a slim, good looking digital compact camera with 16 megapixels, a 4x optical zoom, massive 4Gb internal memory and a built-in USB arm for easy upload to any computer. Sharing the limelight with the T series, the features are less than that of the more prestige T models as they lack certain notable traits such as the Carl Zeiss lens, sliding metal lens protector and BIONZ processor. However, the J10 is priced at £180 - around £50 less than a T series model - so will a sub £200 digital compact camera be worth the saving?
Ease of Use
We don't normally get swayed by how a camera looks, but the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is something else. From the pebble shaped design, to the flush screen and semi-transparent lens surround, a lot of thought has gone into making this camera as nice to look at as possible.
As we investigate the Sony J10 further, it's becoming more obvious that this is a model for the fashion conscious that want a good looking camera but also require something for going travelling with. The J10 is perfect for that thanks to its 4Gb included memory and built-in USB arm. Because of the arm, the camera can be plugged into any computer, including ones in internet cafes in other countries. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 doesn't have a removable battery or external memory card slot, mirroring Apple products, so the camera charges up using the USB dock on the computer. The other major advantage to having the USB arm for charging the battery is that you don't have to carry around a charger and cable if you are travelling around the world or on holidays.
On the top of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is a small power button which sits recessed into the body so you don't accidentally turn the camera off while taking pictures because it's in very close proximity to the long, thin shutter release. Accompanying these two buttons is a small spring loaded zoom rocker to operate the 4x optical zoom.
Moving onto the back of the camera, the screen is sat behind a thin layer of plastic to give the smooth, glass-like feel on the back while other buttons such as playback, menu and the navigation pad only bulge out slightly so you know you're pressing them. There's a small switch for flicking between taking pictures, panoramas and video and this kind of spoils the effect because it brings this otherwise futuristic looking camera back into the present day with a bang.
The exterior of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is a mix of plastic and what feels like a thin rubber on the lower section of the front. It feels solid enough and all the internal moving parts mean that it needs a special kind of person to be able to break anything.
The USB arm is situated on the right side of the camera and is opened up using the small switch located on the bottom of the camera. It opens in two parts, the arm and a small cover to house the metal part of the USB arm when it's folded into the camera. This prevents any dirt getting into it and we think it's a really neat idea. As you push the USB arm back into the camera body, the cover also starts to collapse meaning it's really easy to use and not at all fiddly.
The 2.7 inch LCD screen on the back of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 looked off when we first turned it on. If you think the same thing, pressing the "disp" button on the top of the navigation pad will adjust the brightness. At first we thought it was too bright but after scrolling through the display options, we think that the normal setting simply lacks contrast and setting the bright option corrects that.
The main menu system is the typical orange and black Sony variety which superimposes itself onto the screen so you can still see your subject in the background while you make adjustments. This is particularly useful for modes such as white balance which can drastically alter your picture if you're not careful. The camera features an intelligent auto mode as well as program, the latter allowing more control over the picture taking process.
Technophobes will be pleased as punch to know that the J10 sports an easy mode which removes all information and options from the menu aside from resolution. Even then it only asks if you want the pictures big or small so you're not bogged down by trying to calculate the multiples of screen size. For those of you new to photography or have been out of the loop, the intelligent auto system is a clever program that analyses the frame and sets the camera up to take the best picture according to the information that it collected. So if you have an insect in the frame, the camera will see you're focusing closely to something and will automatically switch itself into macro mode.
Because the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is designed more towards the point and shoot user, it's a bit low on features. We've tested cameras around the same price that are bristling with features in comparison. However, one cool feature that Sony have developed is the Sweep Panorama and they've fitted it to the J10. It works by taking a rapid succession of pictures while you sweep the camera around in an arc. The camera then stitches all the pictures together for you so to get a good panoramic not only do you not have to stitch anything together in an editing software but you also don't have to align the pictures as you take them which is usually the case.
Another good mode they've included is the smile shutter. It's quite commonly used by other manufacturers these days, but Sony developed the mode to advance their face detection systems. In smile shutter mode, the camera looks out for smiles in the faces that it's detected. Once it sees smiles, it automatically takes a picture without the need to press any buttons.
In the box, Sony have been quite generous. Even though the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 has an internal battery and will charge from the computer, they've still included an external charger if, for example, you don't have a computer near you. It works using a simple figure 8 kettle lead that plugs into the charger unit. This has a USB port on the other side for direct plugging in from the camera or, if you prefer, you can plug in the included extension cable. On top of this, you also get a driver CD and an actual real life paper instruction manual - quite a rarity these days for compact cameras.
On the surface, we're extremely impressed with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10. It's a very pretty camera to look at thanks to some interesting styling and is very useful for certain types of consumer. We can see travelling students going for something like this thanks to its easy upload system but we think that Sony have missed a trick because the camera could include automatic uploads to popular photo and social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. The camera is easy to use and all the buttons are responsive enough even when flicking through the menu at speed. Unusually, we found that the left and right arrows weren't as fast as the up and down ones.
We're puzzled as to why the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is bereft of the fun features usually found on cameras at this price point. Maybe they needed the space for the 4Gb internal memory? Whatever the reason is, it looks like Sony have only a narrow market to sell this camera to. We can only really see holiday makers, gap year students, children and people who don't own a computer looking at a camera like this one.
16 megapixels is a lot to fit onto a tiny sensor so we're especially interested to take a look at the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10's image quality.
All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.
After looking at the test pictures, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 seems to give up and down results. We were disappointed by the noise test but the night shot flew in the face of those because in contrast it was pretty good.
Colours are recorded well, we really like how it handles primary colours. Purple can be a problem but the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 handles it nicely as well as subtle hues. Sony sensors have a really good dynamic range anyway but the Sony offers dynamic range expansion called DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation). It helps bring out more detail in shadow areas while capping burn out in the highlights. It works very symapthetically with shadows and dark areas. It doesn't bring them out too much but still helps when it's needed.
Pictures are sharp, the focusing is fast enough and although it's possible to use macro in normal shooting, we found it could sometimes miss focus.
Chromatic aberration is bound to be a problem and it is but not as much as we thought it would be. There's usually a definite hard line of colour along contrasty edges and although it's present, it's a lot softer to the degree that we thought it was lens flare on occasion.
So the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is not going to break ground with the picture results but the type of person that this camera is aimed at will be perfectly happy with the results.
Small sensors always have an issue with digital noise but usually there's a decent noise control program dealing with it. Sony are pretty good when it comes to noise reduction so it's a surprise to see problems in edge definition right at ISO80. Now, this is only seen if you do zoom in to the picture to 100% magnification. At normal viewing size the picture looks ok and doesn't suffer any colour distortion.
Disappointingly, the image starts to degrade as low as ISO200 but it's tolerable. The real problems start if the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 is taken over this threshold to ISO400 and higher. There's a discernible colour change at ISO400 as colour noise starts to get more aggressive. Edge definition starts to get worse here as well with the overall image getting more fuzzy.
Noise at ISO1600 is terrible with green blobs covering the majority of pictures giving them a horrible cast. Edges start to smooth out as noise reduction tries to control the problem but it fails miserably as the green blobs turn into greeny-yellow mush that ruins any chance of a decent picture.
ISO 80 (100% Crop)
ISO 100 (100% Crop)
ISO 200 (100% Crop)
ISO 400 (100% Crop)
ISO 800 (100% Crop)
ISO 1600 (100% Crop)
ISO 3200 (100% Crop)
The Sony CyberShot DSC-J10's 4x zoom lens offers a fairly versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples.
As we mentioned, the noise causes problems with image definition and straight out of the camera, things look a little soft. A simple amount of sharpening from Adobe Photoshop solves the problem giving the pictures a cleaner look.
Original (100% Crop)
Sharpened (100% Crop)
We rarely came across chromatic aberration (CA) in the pictures and when we did, it gave the effect of lens flare which can sometimes resemble CA. It wasn't until we noticed that on the opposite side that this "flare" was a different colour that we realised it was CA. Chromatic aberration is sometimes known as colour fringing and occurs when the lens can't focus all colours on the sensor. It appears as a thin purple band on high contrast edges but can also show up as other colours too.
Example 1 (100% Crop)
The close focusing ability of the Sony Cybershot DSC-J10 isn't miraculous but it's certainly good enough for the type of person that the camera is aimed at. Images are also sharp enough when looked at full magnification.
There are only 4 flash modes on the Sony Cybershot DSC-J10 which are auto, forced on, forced off and slow synchro. The latter option selects a slow shutter speed to light up a dark background while the flash illuminates the foreground so a tripod is necessary. Some manufacturers put the red-eye options in the flash menu but Sony relegate it to the main menu. There's a minor amount of vignetting at the edges of the frame at wide-angle but it's no more than what images with no flash give which suggests an even coverage. At telephoto, the flash targets its main power into the centre of the frame with a very small amount of fall off towards the edges.
Flash Off - Wide Angle (35mm)
Forced Flash - Wide Angle (35mm)
Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)
Forced Flash - Telephoto (140mm)
The red-eye mode uses a pre-flash system that fires the flash before it actually takes the picture. The aim is to reduce the size of the iris to reduce red-eye. However, the camera doesn't suffer from giving red-eye anyway.
|Forced Flash (100% Crop)|
Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)
There's only a simple night shot system on the Sony that slows down the shutter speed and enables noise reduction. Unfortunately, there's no way to over-ride ISO and this would be more advantageous, but considering the noise test results, the camera has worked very well.
Night Shot (100% Crop)
This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
Sample Movie & Video
This is a sample video from the Sony CyberShot DSC-J10 camera at the highest quality setting of 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 31 second movie is 35.6Mb in size.
Front of the Camera
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Top of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera
It's reasonable to say that the Sony Cybershot DSC-J10 is designed for travellers, point and shooters and social networkers. It looks great, has a decent set of features and the addition of the built-in USB means the camera can be charged up in any computer while also downloading the pictures. Perfect for travellers or anyone without a computer using an internet cafe that wants to update Facebook, Twitter or Flickr.
The sensor works well because it provides a good dynamic range and has good colour rendition. Using a dedicated BIONZ processor would probably improve picture quality and speed up transfer times and it's a shame it's not fitted into the J10 but then they have to separate the high-end cameras with the more budget models.
Should we criticise the camera for only having a 2.7 inch screen when there are so many out there with 3 inch and even 3.5 inch monitors. But then what are Sony to do? After all, everyone wants a smaller camera but with a bigger screen. There has to be a compromise somewhere and it's reasonable to drop the screen size down. What Sony have done to compensate is make the screen a nice, bright one meaning it's very easy to see. However it does have issues at oblique angles whereby the image goes into negative. The rest of the build quality is good and we love the design of the flush screen and clear plastic trim on the front. It gives the camera a fresh approach to camera design that makes it stand out more for the fashion conscious.
Design-wise, it's unfortunate that the J10 couldn't have some more advanced features such as a touch-screen. The reason being that it would smooth out the bumpy bits of the camera such as the zoom rocker and mode switch because they could be put on the back of the camera. Features-wise we're surprised not to see more fun things to do on the camera. It's aimed at photographers that enjoy using quirky modes and to leave them out could be a problem. Happy snappers are getting into the vintage look with their pictures and the J10 offers nothing along these lines.
If you enjoy traveling and don't fancy carrying a load of wires and a separate charger with you or if you're a point and shooter that wants to upload and go then the Sony is perfect for this.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|
Reviews of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-J10 from around the web.
Generous memory capacity and a USB plug built in, but they don't make up for the basic VGA video resolution and noisy photos.
Read the full review »
The Sony CyberShot DSC-J10 was released in January 2011 and has an unusual design as well as 4Gb of internal memory. It is available in white, blue and black and costs £158.99.
Read the full review »
|Precision Digital Zoom||Approx. 8x (Total)|
|Smart Zoom||up to 28x (with VGA)|
|Focal Length (f= mm)||6.2-24.7|
|Focal Length (f=35mm conversion)||35-140|
|Macro (cm)||iAuto(W:Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T:Approx.50cm(1.64') to Infinity)|
|Filter Diameter (mm)||NO|
|Conversion Lens compatibility||NO|
|Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens||NO|
|CCD Type||Super HAD CCD|
|Size (Inches)||1/2.3 type(7.75mm)|
|Effective Pixels (Mega Pixels)||Approx. 16.1|
|Intelligent Sweep Panorama||NO|
|Underwater Sweep Panorama||NO|
|3D Sweep Panorama||NO|
|Clear RAW NR||NO|
|Auto Focus Area (Multi Point)||9 points (Under Face Undetected)|
|Auto Focus Area (Centre weighted)||YES|
|Auto Focus Area (Spot)||YES|
|Auto Focus Area (Flexible Spot)||NO|
|Aperture Auto Mode||YES|
|Aperture Priority Mode||NO|
|Aperture Manual Mode||NO|
|Shutter Speed Auto Mode (sec)||iAuto(2" - 1/1,000) / Program Auto(1" - 1/1,000)|
|NR Slow Shutter||1/3sec or slower|
|Hand Shake Alert||YES|
|Exposure Control||± 2.0EV, 1/3EV step|
|White Balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent1, Fluorescent2, Fluorescent3, Incandescent, Flash, One Push, One Push Set|
|Automatic White Balance||YES|
|Light Metering (Multi Pattern)||YES|
|Light Metering (Centre weighted)||YES|
|Light Metering (Spot)||YES|
|ISO Sensitivity (REI)||YES (Auto / 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200)|
|Scene Selection||9 modes (Twilight / Twilight Portrait / Twilight using a tripod / Backlight / Backlight Porttait / Landscape / Macro / Portrait / Close Focus)|
|Optical SteadyShot capability||NO|
|Flash Mode||Auto / Flash On / Slow Syncro / Flash Off|
|Red-Eye Correction||Auto / On / Off|
|Auto Daylight Synchronized Flash||YES|
|Distance limitations using Flash (m)||ISO Auto: Approx.0.2-Approx.3.6m(Approx.0.67'-Approx.11.8')(W) / Approx.0.2-Approx.2.8m(Approx.0.67'-Approx.9.18')(T), ISO3200: up to Approx.5.0m(Approx16.4')(W) / Approx.3.9m(Approx12.8')(T)|
|LCD Screen Size (inches)||6.7cm (2.7 type)|
|LCD Total Dots Number||230.400|
|LCD Monitor Type||TFT|
|Auto Bright Monitoring||NO|
|Recording Media II||NO|
|DCF (Design rule for Camera File System)||YES|
|DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)||NO|
|Burst Mode (shots)||Approx.1.05 fps(2 shots*4)|
|Burst Interval (approximately sec)||Approx. 0.95 sec.(2 shots*4)|
|Still Image size (16M 4608 x 3456)||YES|
|Still Image size (14M 4320 x 3240)||NO|
|Still Image size (13M 4224 x 3168)||NO|
|Still Image size (12M 4000 x 3000)||NO|
|Still Image size (10M 3648 x 2736)||YES|
|Still Image size (9.0M, 3456 x 2592)||NO|
|Still Image size (8.0M, 3264 x 2448)||NO|
|Still Image size (7.2M 3072 x 2304)||NO|
|Still Image size (5.0M, 2592 x 1944)||YES|
|Still Image size (3.1M, 2048 x 1536)||NO|
|Still Image size (VGA, 640 x 480)||YES|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 1920 x 1080)||YES|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4,320 x 2,432)||NO|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4000 x 2248)||NO|
|Still Image size (3:2 mode, 4000 x 2672)||NO|
|Still Image size (3:2 mode 3648 x 2432)||NO|
|Still Image size (3:2 mode 3456 x 2304)||NO|
|2D Panorama||7,152 x 1,080(183deg) / 4,912 x 1,080(125deg) / 4,912 x 1,920(129deg) / 3,424 x 1,920(90deg)|
|Moving Image Size (1280x720 30fps Fine Approx.9Mbps)||NO|
|Moving Image Size (1280x720 30fps Standard Approx.6Mbps)||NO|
|Moving Image Size (640x480 30fps Approx.3Mbps)||NO|
|Moving Image Size (320x240 30fps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (AVCHD 1920 x 1080(50i, Interlace) Approx.17Mbps(Average bit-rate))||NO|
|Moving Image Size (AVCHD 1440 x 1080(50i, Interlace) Approx.9Mbps(Average bit-rate))||NO|
|Moving Image Size (MP4/AVI 1440 x 1080 Approx.25fps Progressive) Approx.12Mbps(Average bit-rate))||NO|
|Moving Image Size (MP4/AVI 1280 x 720 Approx.25fps Progressive) Approx.6Mbps(Average bit-rate))||NO|
|Moving Image Size (MP4/AVI 640 x 480 Approx.25fps Progressive) Approx.3Mbps(Average bit-rate))||YES (Approx. 30fps Progressive)|
|Moving Image Size (AVCHD 1920 x 1080(50i, Interlace) Approx.24Mbps(Average bit-rate))||NO|
|HD (High Definition) Playback||Under 16M(4,608 x 3,456)|
|Slideshow with Music||YES|
|Playback Zoom||YES (8x)|
|Cue & Review (MPEG)||YES|
|Index Playback||16 / 25 images (Date / Folder)|
|Auto Image Rotation||YES|
|Auto grouping and & Best Picture Recognition||NO|
|Battery Remaining Indicator||YES|
|Exposure Warning Indicator||NO|
|Disk / Memory Stick remaining indicator||YES|
|PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol)||NO|
|Print Image Matching||YES|
|Shop Front Mode||YES|
|Start up time (approximately sec)||2.0|
|Menu Language||English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian , Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Croatian, Romanian|
|Multi use Terminal with HD||NO|
|Multi use Terminal||NO|
|USB 2.0 Hi-Speed||YES|
|Battery System||Built-in battery|
|Supplied Battery||Built-in battery|
|Stamina (battery life) with the supplied battery(s) in normal shooting condition||210 shots, 105min (CIPA standard with LCD screen on)|
|Battery for Clock||Lithium-ion (SP60)|
|Weight (g)||Approx. 126g (4.5oz.)|
|Weight with Accessories (g)||Approx. 126g (4.5oz.)|
|Supplied Software||Picture Motion Browser (Windows only)|
|Supplied Accessories||USB Charger(AC-UB10/10B), Power cord, Wrist strap, CD-ROM, Dedicated USB connection support cable|