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First Pictures and Mini-Review

3/4 side view of camera Note: This review has been written after only a couple of hours of using the camera. Take all comments with a huge number of grains of salt. The picture at the right is from the Sony website.

Why did I buy yet another digital camera? Well, I'd just finished writing an article singing the praises of through-the-lens cameras, and pining for such a digital camera. No sooner had I written the article than the next day I saw that the Sony DSC-D770 was on sale. I had pretty much ignored it when it first came out due to its US$1,800 price tag. Now, though, I could pick one up for about US$800.

I looked at the specs: 5x zoom, TTL (through-the-lens) view, ISO adjustable to 400, manual zoom and focus control, and decided that this was very nearly the camera I had described. The only drawback was that its resolution (1344 x 1024) was less than the 1600 x 1200 that I had become used to with the Olympus 2000. Nonetheless, it just seemed right to go back to a TTL camera, I figured that the extra zoom might make up for the lesser number of pixels, and the price was right.

Unpacking the Camera

When you unpack the box, you see a cardboard flap that says, “Please read the instruction manual.” In fact, Sony has figured out a way to give you an incentive to do so.

This camera uses a Sony InfoLITHIUM tm battery; it can tell the camera about the battery's power consumption. The camera came with one battery and a charger. You have to charge the battery before you can use the camera. That takes about three hours, and with nothing better to do, you'll naturally start reading the instructions. You really will want to do this to familiarize yourself with all the things that you can control manually on the D770. (If you're used to SLR cameras, this won't be a big deal; if you're used to point-and-shoot, your new options can seem dizzyingly complex.)

yellow snapdragon After having skimmed through the manual, I set up the card reader and did some other work until the battery charged. The only puzzling part of the manual was the reference to the “button lithium battery” which is supposed to keep the camera's clock running even when the main battery is taken out. The packaging included such a battery, but there were no instructions telling how it was to be put into the camera. There must have been a battery in there already, though, since when I put in the main battery, the camera came up with the correct date and time.

Note (19 May 2000): I'm not a doofus, but I play one on the web. Thanks to several correspondents who have told me that the clock battery is wired inside the camera; the button battery is for the remote control, whose presence I had totally forgotten.

I then went out to the back porch and got this horribly out-of-focus picture of a snapdragon. Obviously, I had not read the manual carefully enough. Although I had found the manual zoom control, I had neglected to realize that that was not the same as the focus control. Hence the results you see at the left.

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