Pros: small, light, "cute", plenty of attractive tech features
Cons: No viewfinder. Mini memory card. Low light performance and flash.
The ST65 comes with only the basics to get you started. In the box you’ll find the camera, a lanyard, a charging cable, and a 740 milliamp battery. The camera features just 32MB of built in memory so you’ll need to purchase an SDHC memory card. For this review I used a PNY 4GB card.
The charging cable for this camera is much too short. I figure that a charging cable should be no less than 3 – 4 feet. This cable is shorter than 2 feet. The only thing I did appreciate was the nifty LED light on the cable’s connector which glows red during charging – green on completion.
I found the interface for this camera to be fairly easy to use. It took me no longer than 2 minutes to set up date/time/time zone and language without reading the manual. There is no physical manual included, but, there is a CD with the manual in a downloadable file. I don’t think it’s necessary to read it though.
Navigating the menu and selecting options is straightforward. You use the circular D-pad to move the cursor and either the [play] or [menu] buttons to select options, or exit the menus.
When you highlight features, the camera scrolls messages to actually tell you what that word means. Very cool! Most users may not know what the “iso” is or what “white balance” does.
This camera has a lot of great features packed into it for such a low price. The first is “image stabilization” which helps keep pictures steady even if you have shaky hands. The second is “face detection” which intuitively shows you the computer zooming in on the subjects face when it believes it has found their eye’s. The camera will then adjust the depth of field. There is also red eye reduction at work in the background to keep your friends looking like demons!
The charger included with this camera is similar to that you’d find on most smartphones. It features a USB cable which you can disconnect from the AC adapter in order to plug the camera to a computer for image downloads. This is a good thing because SDHC micro cards are so small they can be lost easily. The major downside here is that when this camera is plugged in you can’t use it for anything else but downloading. You can’t use it as a webcam and you can’t use it to take pics or video.
This camera will connect to any Pict-Bridge enabled printer for easy picture printing without a PC, but, I’m disappointed it doesn’t use regular SDHC cards. If it did, you could use one of the newer SDHC’s with built in WiFi so you could wirelessly upload your photos. WiFi would have also been a nice feature, but, at this price its omission is forgivable.
This camera is small and very light. You might even consider it “cute” with it’s feminine color schemes and petite nature. I found the build quality of the camera to be quite high, but, it’s size and heft make me feel it wouldn’t survive more than one accidental drop to the ground – if that many. The body has a chrome finish that feels of high quality and should resist wear. The zoom switch feels a little cheaper than the chromed lens and metal housing band, but, only time will tell if it will hold up.
I must admit that I’ve been far away from point & shoot cameras for a long time. I used to sell them in fact. Looked forward to each and every new Sony T-series. Lately, I’ve switched to smartphones because I find the combination of the ability to take pics, email them and upload them to the internet addicting and fun. My iPhone4S’ camera is pretty good, but, the flash is almost useless and the phone’s battery life is abysmal for shooting HD videos.
This camera is a breeze to use – even if you are a novice it’s your first digital camera. The computers inside do their best to autofocus on faces and are constantly adjusting the internal equalizers to push the best quality picture possible. The camera can handle up to 9 faces at a time and the default setting of image stabilization is on. Out of the box you are ready to start shooting.
The camera’s 14-Megapixel offerings take the form of sharp detail in good lighting and very good color reproduction. I took pictures around three houses during different times of day ranging from morning to low light in a room with a Christmas tree in the background. So long as you are in good lighting, this camera will take great pics that look natural and sharp. Some of the firmware will automatically do things like adjust for halos from bright light sources, but, some overly bright lights like LED’s on cars will cause minute glare. Blur at the end of photos is very well mitigated by the image stabilizer. There are controls to adjust shutter speed, but, you are best leaving that to the camera when you select the lighting situation you wish to shoot under. “Twilight” and “sports” settings are among them – to adjust not only the lighting but the shutter speed.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to tinker with settings and just wants to take pictures, you can put the camera in “smart mode” by pressing the “smart” button on the frame. This basically allows the computer to decide what should be done depending on what the various sensors believe should be done. The pictures I took while using smart mode were bright, sharp and I was able to zoom in to see details on subjects as small as loose threads. There are several filters used in the background that can be set to either add an artistic flair – such as blur or “antique” color tones – but, I found pictures to be acceptable without having to delve too deep into the interface. Autofocus was very quick regardless what mode I shot in.
The flash is slightly bright and has a negative effect of whitewashing the image or making things nearer to the center of the picture blank when you attempt to take macro shots. I recommend leaving the flash off unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Shooting video with this camera, however, is very effective. This camera will shoot up to 720p videos which is more than enough for High Definition uploads to Youtube or Facebook. 1080p videos will require an 8GB SDHC card and only give you an hour of recording tops. Noise and wind cancellation worked well enough, but, I was disappointed by a few major omissions:
#1 Smartphones shoot up to 1080p video and offer HDMI out so you can plug the camera directly to an HDTV and show friends/family. This has no HDMI or RCA output. There are built in speakers for playback if that’s any consolation.
#2 This camera has no viewfinder. If anything happens to the screen, you might as well dump it.
#3 The screen is not very vivid or sharp for viewfinding. It actually looks quite grainy and doesn’t accurately depict what you’ll be observing when you actually view the pics on a computer.
LOW LIGHT PERFORMANCE
The ST65 does not perform very well in low light. Many higher end digital cameras, especially those used by professional photographers allow for longer shutter times to capture more light in low light situations. Though this camera’s maximum shutter time is a full 8 seconds, in dimly lit rooms, picture quality is hurt by weak color saturation. I tried zooming in on pictures and was able to make out some details of items in the background, but, unless you specifically focus on something, details are lacking. A DSLR camera would cost a lot more and be larger, but, that’s what you’d want to use if low light picture taking (i.e: shooting in the museum) are your thing.
If you are the type of person who takes pictures of yourself using the timer, you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere. The self timer’s maximum setting is 10 seconds which simply isn’t enough for many environments. 30 seconds would have been better.
If you are a layman in camera use and just want a good, lightweight, portable camera that fits in a shirt pocket and can shoot HD video, this is a great choice for it’s low price. Professionals with special macro and lighting needs will want to look elsewhere. I like this camera and I like it’s value.