Sony tries to make their
still cameras along lines learned with video and HDTV cameras.
Things like fast power-up, fast white balance, fast option selection
and direct focus and/or zoom operation are right at your fingertips
on the DSC-F717. And it shows in the pictures it takes.
When the sun goes down,
extra features kick in to make sure you get the shot. Autofocus
sensitivity bumps up and as available darkness becomes the environment,
the laser fires up its holographic focus projector.
rather rare to have the 717 fail to achieve fast, accurate focus.
Its shutter lag is small (0.12 sec), if you've pre-focused or
are holding a half-press. The three friends walking in lock step,
right, were captured using that feature. Later, reviewing the
image, I see that everybody else was in lock step, too. Huh.
right filter over the lens and throw one switch, and the 717
shoots in infrared where leaves are white and skies look polarized.
Here's its NightShot feature using a single ND400 filter over
The zoom covers a 38
- 190 mm equivalent and is sharp throughout. Better than that,
the lens is f/2.0 at full wide and only f/2.4 at full tele allowing
it access to light that is half the intensity of what the Nikons
the choice of two wide converters for this camera, and while
I brought the large VCL-MHG07 glass for a 26.6 mm view, I never
with a converter seems rather anti-travel, but walking or zooming
to find an alternate framing proved to be easy to do most of
the time, except for one shot that would have required me to
dig a hole in order to maintain the composition while achieving
the full subject:
The ideal wide converter
would allow full-zoom operation and maintain the camera lens'
original sharpness performance, while weighing just a few ounces.
put such a device into the league with interchangeable lensing,
wouldn't it be nice to have lens converters that bayonet-mounted
notice how "fat chance" and "slim chance"
mean the same thing?
the greatest capabilities of the DSC-F717 is its dynamic range.
It refuses to capture highlights without a fight. For tonal detail,
that is, in the brightest parts of an image. The airplane, above
right, seen here is reduced in brightness from a slightly overexposed
image. I shot two frames but reducing the overexposed one gave
more pleasing results than boosting the underexposed one. The
whispy clouds in the bright blue sky were not lost, although
most digital cameras would have bleached them out on just a normal
The other great pictorial
asset of the 717 is its stunnngly sharp Zeiss zoom lens. The
tall slice is an actual-size, 100% scale piece of the full image
file. Clearly it shows 35 bricks framing the middle window. How
many surround the other two?
Part of its detail asset
comes from the fact that the 717 allows gathering images at 2048
pixels wide from an image chip 2560 pixels wide. The 80% size
file hangs onto what I call 97% of the full-frame image quality
(although it may literally be more), something that's easy to
prove by shooting one of each and scaling the smaller up to full
frame size in Photoshop for comparison.
that the three-porthole window detail is actually 80% of the
full frame size as you see it here.
a sense of the rest of the picture, you can't do anything more
than tenatively nod and hope for more information.
composition of building and boat reveals some more details and
looks okay, giving a sense of scale to the window detail, but
it isn't until the whole image is seen that eyebrows head for
the ceiling in appreciation for what the lens has actually retained.
In my experience I haven't
seen 5-megapixel images from other cameras that beat the detail
and dynamic qualities seen in shots from the 717. Combined with
the autofocus systems (plural), fast ergonomics and low shutter
lag from a prefocused condition, every time I grab the 717, I
have high expectations of getting a good shot.
here is in Spandau, a short subway trip from downtown Berlin,
as are a number of other shots on this page.
The smaller images throughout this article can all be opened
in a New Window (usually through a right mouse button click option)
in your browser for a peek at the shot double or triple the size
of the image you see here.
achieved some of the best images over the course of the trip.
Cases in point, Spandau, Germany, Farmer's Market day. Nine shots
in a row. #1763 to 1771 in this order: