New digital camera - Sony F717 - opinions please

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Rob Gillespie, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    I'd love to get a new digital camera. At present I have a decent 2mp Fuji, which is fine for snaps, but I want something a bit more serious. I'm not an experienced photographer, so I need a camera that can hold my hand and do the full-auto thing while I learn to use it properly.

    I can now get the 5mp Sony F717 for £546 from Amazon UK. That's around a £300 drop compared to a few months ago and is over £100 less than the nearest competitor from Nikon (5700) or Minolta.

    I like the idea of the ring-controlled full manual zoom and focus (the Nikon is button-only) and the image quality I've seen on test reviews looks excellent.

    I was just wondering if anyone else here had used this camera and has any opinions on it.

    Please, no comments about buying a 'real' digi-SLR because they're hugely out of my price range. £540 is about as much as I'm comfy paying right now so it seems the ideal time to buy while Amazon still have their offer on. I've also printed several test photos from the F717 on my Epson Photo 890 printer and have been very impressed with how they look at full-A4 size. Maybe not pro-quality, but then I ain't doing this for a living.
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I'm not sure of the model number, but I was asked to take a few pictures at a wedding last weekend with a recent model Sony 5mp camera. I also was using my 4mp Canon Powershot G3 during the event, switching back and forth.

    I never got the chance to look at the quality of the photos, but I did not care for the slow response (compared to my Canon) of the camera after taking each photo -- the camera took longer to process each image. The Canon feels almost as quick as a 35mm camera. Also, the LCD screen quality was not as clear as the Canon (I'm not sure it that can be adjusted in the setup menus).

    The above certainly does not qualify as a full review, but they are my impressions from my brief use of the Sony.
     
  3. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    The Canon G3 is also pretty good...I have one, and have had excellent results, except for the slow focus grrr. I really need to master the manual focus on this thing.

    The ergonomics of the F717 may not be too your liking...I've heard from reviews that you can't really use it one-handed like the G3. Picture quality should be on par though. The G3 has full manual features as well. If possible, go visit a camera store and try the F717 and G3.

    Keep in mind that you have to use Sony's proprietary Memory Stick format, which is very expensive at the moment, especially for the high-capacity ones that are not backwards compatible with older memory stick devices Sony makes.

    I assume you have already visited www.dpreview.com ?
     
  4. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    I have Max, thanks.

    The 717 is basically an updated version of the 707 and apparently has faster response. Something like 1 second between switching on and being ready to use. It can get slow between shots if you're using TIFF format because the file sizes are so much larger.

    The Canon G3 is a 4mp though - yes? I've looked at a couple of reviews for the G5 but the Sony always seems to come out tops in terms of absolute image quality and it has a x5 rather than x4 zoom (though the Nikon 5700 has x8). The Nikon has less barrel distortion in macro mode and probably more natural colours, but apparently is very poor for low-light focus and is button-operation only for manual focus. The Minolta suffers a lot from picture noise.

    Nikon now have the 5400 out which is in the same price bracket.

    I do prefer how the G5 looks though and being left-handed I'll concerned I may find the Sony slightly more awkward to hold.

    However, the F717 being at the same price as the Nikon 5400 and the G5 means I'm paying the same for camera one step up on the ladder. The F717 usually competes with the Nikon 5700 so in that respect, I might be better off with it.
     
  5. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    Rob,

    I've had the F-717 since around October.

    I'm very pleased with it. I would suggest as Max did that you visit the Sony Forum at dpreview. The people there are great and you will find a wealth of opinions.

    Here's the exact address to the Sony Forum:

    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/forum...um=1009&page=1
     
  6. Mark Fontana

    Mark Fontana Stunt Coordinator

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    I've had the F707 since June 2002 and have been very pleased with it. No problems at all. Saving the 15 MB TIF files is rather slow, but I don't use the TIF mode that much. For regular family-type photography, it seems plenty responsive. The image quality is superb, and with the manual controls, I've gotten all of the "artistic" shots I wanted without needing to pull out my SLR. Probably the most impressive feature though is the power management... the camera runs about 4 hours on a single charge, even when using the flash and rear LCD.

    The main limitation is that until recently, 128 MB was the maximum media size for Sony's "Memory Stick" cards. With these Sony models, that would get you about 55-60 images per card in JPEG format at the highest resolution. I see that 256 MB cards are available now. According to a recent newsgroup posting, "the 256MB Memory Stick Pro works in the Sony F717. The 256 Memory Stick Select works in the Sony F707 and F717."
     
  7. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    Rob,
    I was in the same boat as you ~1.5 years ago. I ended up with a pro-sumer Nikon (Coolpix 995). Some things I wish I thought about:

    - Availability of aftermarket lenses. Can you buy a 2x or 3x zoom lens for the camera? What about macro lenses (for close subjects, etc.). If you get more involved in photography you may want to get these lenses (depends on what your shooting).
    - Availability of aftermarket filters. Can you get a variety of polarizers, UV filters, & color filters for the camera? If you become interested in photography you will absolutely want to get a basic set of filters. Nikon doesn't sell color filters for my camera and only offers one polarizer. You will want to get a UV filter immediately (to protect the actual lens on the camera). The lack of filters for my camera became a big issue for me.
    - How well does the viewfinder work? The LCD screen will be severely washed out in bright sunlight. Since most of my photography is done outdoors this became a significant issue.
    - What type of memory does it accept? I like my camera because it can take large memory sticks as well as (mini) hard drives.

    Other important items would be basic use (how easy is it to change camera settings, is it comfortable to hold, etc.). I can't stand the small cameras (my hands are too big). Dpreview has all the info about picture quality, shot speed (how long it takes to save each shot), etc.
     
  8. Dana Fillhart

    Dana Fillhart Supporting Actor

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    I got the Sony Mavica CD-1000 (the one that burns the images on 3" CDs) when it first came out a few years back, at a jaw-dropping $1300 price -- expensive but I loved it for everything except low-light pictures. I even took the pix at the 2001 national HTF meet in Hollywood, and at Scooter's parties for the past 2 years with it (but sadly, won't get a chance to do a 3-peat this year...be in Oregon w/ my sis).

    Anyway, the cd-drive mechanism went kaplooey 2 weeks ago, just before the 4th, so I did some quick research and narrowed it down to a couple 5mp cameras, including the new Sony DSC-V1, for $700. For a variety of reasons I cannot fully explain here, I chose that make/model, and I love it. I got a 256mb Memstick Pro for $120 (if I had gone with the non-pro non-Sony alternative sticks, I could've gotten it for $70 or so). I think the memstick prices are a little higher on average, but the prices HAVE come down significantly in the past year, so it's not much of a problem. The only issue I've had thus far is the software doesn't install on Windows 2003 (which is what I have on one of my home boxes and on my work laptop), and some difficulty with focus when the camera's on automatic-everything and I'm moving it (I know it's fine if I do things more manually and set a faster shutter speed).

    This camera also does about TWELVE MINUTES of mpeg-1 video on a 256mb stick, 640x480 at 15fps, which impressed the hell outta me (the 15fps is a little stutter-ish but not bad at all). It supports USB2.0, has nightshot and nightframing, has more resolution settings than other 5mp cameras, a very good zoom with something called Smart Zoom (it will only do digital zoom if it detects no quality loss so it can go higher than the advertised 4x optical zoom), burst shot (3 shots in a row), and a slew of other features...plus it has a fairly small footprint (a LOT smaller, compared to my CD-1000!).

    $700 is a bit pricey, but as I shot thousands of pix on my CD-1000 and expect to shoot thousands more with this camera, I'm sure I will get my money's worth.

    Hope that helps some!
     
  9. Marvin

    Marvin Screenwriter

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  10. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    I think they are supposed to be faster (2x or more?) and can have much higher capacity. However, only Sony's new toys will support the new memory sticks. I'm talking about the new and improved memory sticks of course. It probably won't be long before other manufacturers start making them though.
     
  11. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I have the DSC-F717 and I love it. I bought it about 3 months ago and it has worked perfectly. I use it with a 256MB card most of the time. I just installed a UV filter and it has really improved the quality of my outdoor pictures.

    Be aware, the manual focus ring is still "digital", not mechanical, but the effect is the same.

    If you want to check out some non-professional snapshot type pictures I have taken with my 717, go here:

    http://community.webshots.com/user/vegasshawn

    "2003 Chevy Avalanche", "Nathan 2", "Laughlin 2003" "Vegas 4/17/2003" "Nathan 1st Birthday" albums were all taken with my 717 in full Auto. Note that the Vegas album was the first time I played with the manual controls. So, don't count on the picture quality. Also be aware that Webshots decreases the quality of your images for storage purposes. If you want to see anything in it's original state, let me know and I can e-mail.

    Most of the other were with my old Kodak DC280
     
  12. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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  13. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Well, thanks all for the advice.

    After giving it some serious thought over the past few days I've ordered the F717. Comparing the reviews of it with those for the Nikon 5400 and Canon G5 have me sold on the Sony's image quality. Where the other cameras have faults, the Sony seems to have none (relatively). Of course, the 717 IS a grade higher that those other two - it normally competes price-wise with the Nikon 5700, the Minolta Dimiage 7hi and is one-down from the 'true' digi SLRs.

    At the price I've bought it at it seems silly not to go for it. I like how it feels in the hand (I manged to try one in a shop for a minute) and despite me being left-handed it doesn't pose any real discomfort. I love the way the entire back part of the camera tilts upward and it feels a solid, professional piece of equipment.

    Memory Sticks - yes, they're more expensive - I can get a 256mb for about £80-£90. But realistically, how many of these am I going to end up buying? One, two. Three possibly for a long trip. Not enough to present a problem.

    It's going to take a week or so to arrive as Amazon don't carry them in stock, but I'll post back once I get my grubby paws on it [​IMG]
     
  14. DaveBB

    DaveBB Supporting Actor

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    Good to hear. Please post back in a few weeks with some feedback.
     

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