DPInterface Sony Cyber-shot N2 Review
Brad Soo - December 24th, 2006

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 is essentially a 10 megapixel upgrade to last year's N1. It carries over the huge touchscreen, manual controls and everything, plus an improved high sensitivity mode. How fancy an upgrade is the N2? Find out now

Size and Weight

This is the Sony Cyber-shot N2's size compared to competition:

(172.6)  89.5 x 58.0 x 25.1 mm (150 g) - Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH
(179.0)  91.2 x 59.6 x 28.2 mm (165 g) - Canon PowerShot SD900 Ti Digital ELPH
(172.2)  94.5 x 60.4 x 17.3 mm (127 g) - Casio Exilim S770
(172.8)  92.0 x 58.4 x 22.4 mm (139 g) - Casio Exilim Z1000
(177.2)  92.7 x 56.7 x 27.8 mm (155 g) - Fujifilm FinePix F30
(163.6)  90.0 x 55.0 x 18.6 mm (130 g) - Fujifilm FinePix Z3
(177.0)  93.0 x 61.0 x 23.0 mm (130 g) - HP Photosmart R827
(183.6)  96.0 x 62.0 x 25.6 mm (170 g) - HP Photosmart R967
(189.7)  111.0 x 55.5 x 23.2 mm (160 g) - Kodak EasyShare V610
(171.2)  101.0 x 49.8 x 20.4 mm (124 g) - Kodak EasyShare V705
(191.5)  110.5 x 60.0 x 21.0 mm (140 g) - Nikon Coolpix S7c
(168.9)  90.5 x 58.0 x 20.4 mm (115 g) - Nikon Coolpix S9
(174.3)  96.0 x 54.0 x 24.3 mm (120 g) - Olympus Stylus 750
(169.4)  94.1 x 51.1 x 24.2 mm (132 g) - Panasonic Lumix FX07
(179.9)  97.7 x 57.1 x 25.1 mm (151 g) - Panasonic Lumix FX50
(166.0)  88.5 x 54.5 x 23.0 mm (125 g) - Pentax Optio A20
(173.0)  95.0 x 58.5 x 19.5 mm (135 g) - Pentax Optio T20
(169.0)  94.5 x 57.0 x 17.5 mm (142 g) - Samsung NV3
(180.5)  96.7 x 61.1 x 22.7 mm (151 g) - Sony Cyber-shot N2
(165.2)  89.7 x 54.9 x 20.6 mm (140 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T10
(174.8)  95.0 x 56.5 x 23.3 mm (132 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T50
(169.0)  89.0 x 57.0 x 23.0 mm (127 g) - Sony Cyber-shot W70

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 is one of the bigger cameras out there. While it's not a back pocket camera, it's still very small and will fit other pockets and cases with ease.

Open up the Box

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 comes with:

  • NP-BG1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • Stylus
  • USB + A/V multi-connector cable
  • User's manual
  • CD-ROM

Storage and Power

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 has just 26 MB of internal memory for your photos, another 26 MB is used for the album feature described later. Anyway, you'd want to get at least a 1 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo for this 10 megapixel camera. The camera does not appear to take advantage of high-speed memory cards.

270 shots - Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH
230 shots - Canon PowerShot SD900 Ti Digital ELPH
200 shots - Casio Exilim S770
360 shots - Casio Exilim Z1000
580 shots - Fujifilm FinePix F30
170 shots - Fujifilm FinePix Z3
240 shots - HP Photosmart R827
160 shots - HP Photosmart R967
135 shots - Kodak EasyShare V610
150 shots - Kodak EasyShare V705
200 shots - Nikon Coolpix S7c
190 shots - Nikon Coolpix S9
190 shots - Olympus Stylus 750
320 shots - Panasonic Lumix FX07
300 shots - Panasonic Lumix FX50
150 shots - Pentax Optio A20
130 shots - Pentax Optio T20
200 shots - Samsung NV3
300 shots - Sony Cyber-shot N2
250 shots - Sony Cyber-shot T10
400 shots - Sony Cyber-shot T50
360 shots - Sony Cyber-shot W70

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 turns in an above average 300 shots per charge (CIPA Standard). The battery takes a whopping 4.5 hours to charge. Unlike the T-series, the N2 doesn't use a InfoLithium battery so there's no minute-by-minute battery indicator.

 

Extras

The N2 is compatible with an external slave flash, underwater case and a macro ring light.

Camera Tour

In addition to the resolution increase, the N2 comes in a changed color - beige. Design wise and build quality, things are still the same - simple, stylish and solid.

The N2 features a 3X zoom lens on the front, equivalent to 38 - 114 mm and f2.8 - f5.4. A little window near the flash is the AF-assist beam/self-timer lamp which lights up red in low-light or when counting down. The flash itself is fairly powerful - with a maximum range of 4.8 m at wide-angle and 2.6 m at telephoto.

sony-n2-back

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 has a large 3 inch LCD which has 230,000 pixels. The LCD is a touch screen so there are minimal buttons on the back. Indoor and outdoor visibility were both fairly good.

On the top right of the N2 is the zoom controller followed by the mode switch lower down. The mode switch modes you between movie, shooting and playback modes.

Since most of the functions are accessed within the screen, there are only two other buttons on the N2's back. The touch access button toggles the menu icon on the screen to prevent accidental "touching" while the display button toggles the info shown on the screen. Pressing the menu icon on the screen brings up some frequently changed settings on-screen as shown above.

Those settings are:

  • Shooting mode (Auto, program, high sensitivity, manual, twilight, twilight portrait, candle, soft snap, landscape, beach, snow, fireworks)
  • Exposure compensation (2 in 1/3 increments)
  • Autofocus (Multi, center, spot, preset distance)
  • Flash setting (Auto, on, slow sync, off)
  • Self-timer (2 or 10 seconds/off)
  • Macro (On/off)
  • Image resolution

The on-screen MENU icon enters a deeper menu for even more stuff.

sony-n2-top

The top of the N2 features a speaker, power button and shutter release button. I found the shutter button placed just too close to the edge of the camera, making camera shake more of an issue.

 

One side of the N2 features its speaker while the other, a compartment for your memory card and battery plus a wrist strap mount.

At the bottom, you'll find a metal tripod mount and dock connector, which is also the port for using the multi-function connector cable.

Shooting

sony-n2-screen1

You can select one of the Sony Cyber-shot N2's many image sizes which range from 10 megapixels to VGA plus two compression options - Fine and Standard. The N2's display screen is complete with exposure information, a live histogram and other shooting details.

 

There are other manual controls on the N2 as well:

  • Metering mode (Multi, center, spot)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, incandescent, flash)
  • ISO sensitivity (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
  • Exposure bracketing (3 shots with 0.3, 0.7 or 1)
  • Flash intensity
  • Photo effects
  • Saturation, contrast and sharpness

The N2 has an average 6 cm macro mode. Unfortunately, the Cyber-shot N2 is lacking custom white balance.

 

There are even more menus in "setup" mode with things like AF mode and the date and time to change.

 

One issue though is that the internal memory is very slow in processing so you might wanna get a real memory card instead.

A manual exposure mode on the N2 gives you full control over shutter speed (with a range of 30 seconds to 1/1000 second) and limited control over aperture (3 options at a time). Despite the aperture limitations, I'll take what I can get and use!

The Smart Zoom feature crops a full-resolution photo so there's no loss of quality and can be used up to 17X using the 640 x 480 resolution.

I noticed there's a slight lag (about a fraction of a second) between taps on the LCD and the next screen loading in menus. And accessing important settings such as ISO require more than 2 taps. Overall, the menus are fairly (though not extremely) responsive and quick loading, though this is certainly not the camera for quickly flipping and altering lots of settings.

Recording

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 can take VGA movies with sound at 30 FPS till the memory card fills up. This requires a Memory Stick PRO Duo card (but nowadays, who doesn't have one?). Just in case you have a normal Memory Stick Duo or want to record longer movies, you can record VGA movies at 16 FPS or 160 x 112 movies at 8 FPS!

Exposure is automatically adjusted, but the Sony N2 cannot zoom or focus while recording a movie. Movies are recorded in MPEG format so a 1 GB card will take 12 minutes of movies. The N2's movie mode and quality was very good.

Performance

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 is ready to shoot in 1.5 seconds. It normally takes about 1/12 to 1/3 seconds to focus, which is very quick. Shutter lag is not noticeable after pressing the shutter.

The shot-to-shot rate was 1 shot every 2.1 seconds, longer if the flash is used. Flash recharge time using a fully charged battery took 3 seconds. The camera zooms from wide-angle to telephoto very quickly within 1 seconds with around 10 stops in between.

In continuous shooting, the Sony N2 has a very mediocre burst mode, taking 3 photos in a row at barely 1 FPS before stopping. The camera powers down instantly after you press the button. Overall performance was just average with other cameras able to do better than this one.

Image Quality

Here are some crops from photos taken using the N2:


ISO 100 (f2.8, 1/15 sec)


ISO 200 (f2.8, 1/30 sec)


ISO 400 (f2.8, 1/60 sec)


ISO 800 (f2.8, 1/160 sec)


ISO 1600 (f4.0, 1/160 sec)

Images are clean at ISO 100 and ISO 200. Noise gets turned up a notch at ISO 400 and up again at ISO 800. Images start to lose saturation and turn really noisy at ISO 800 and especially ISO 1600. There is little chromatic aberration (color fringing).

There was mild distortion and bad redeye in the Cyber-shot N2's photos. Color accuracy was overall quite good at lower ISOs. The Sony Cyber-shot N2's image quality is good, just don't use the high sensitivity mode (sometimes it goes overboard) and save the last two ISO options for desperation only.

Photo gallery

Full-sized photos in the Sony Cyber-shot N2 photo gallery.

Playback

 

In playback, the Sony Cyber-shot N2 can playback stills and movies (With sound). It can also protect images, DPOF & print marking, resize, trim, rotate and split/edit movies. You can also magnify still photos by 5x and take a look around using the 4 arrow buttons.

There's plenty of information shown in playback, including a histogram, shutter speed and aperture used. In addition, the Sony Cyber-shot N2 has a fancy slideshow feature with image-to-image transitions and slideshow music up to 3 minutes per track.

The album feature is well implemented and saves a VGA copy of your photos (up to 500 of them). They override the oldest one when you reach 500 photos but you can save your favorite shots. A rather gimmicky feature is "paint" which allows you to draw on your photos via the touch screen.

 

Conclusion

The Sony Cyber-shot N2 packs 10 megapixels and a huge touchscreen into its small casing. The rather powerful flash, manual controls and great movie mode also add the appeal of the N2 to the crowds. Despite offering more manual controls (over exposure) than your typical compact, the Sony N2 lacks custom white balance and has limited aperture options.

The large and visible 3 inch touchscreen may well impress your friends but may also make your shooting experience quite crummy. Some important settings (such as ISO) are buried 2 to 3 taps away and the LCD isn't 100% responsive either.

Focusing and overall performance is overall above average with the exception of continuous shooting which was extremely disappointing. Image quality was overall good (despite the N2 offering a high 10 megapixels), photos were useable at settings up to ISO 400. The only concerns are redeye and distortion.

I think the Sony N2 is geared more to the snap and share group of people. With the fancy playback feature paired with the large touchscreen along with the paint ability and 500-shot album, you'll quickly have a group of friends crowded around you and your camera. Those who want some manual control with high resolution may also want to check out the N2. Unless you're shooting studios or sports, you'll find the Sony N2 appealing and on your considerations list.

Camera rating upon 10 (more about this): [Category: Ultra-compact]

  • 8.5 - Body/Exterior
  • 7.0 - Bundle, batteries and memory
  • 7.0 - Lens
  • 8.0 - Feature set
  • 7.5 - Controls and operation
  • 7.0 - Performance
  • 8.0 - Image quality
  • 7.6 - Overall rating

What's hot:

  • 3X lens, high resolution in a small body
  • Powerful flash
  • Above average battery life
  • Large touchscreen LCD
  • Fairly fast performance
  • Manual controls
  • Great movie mode
  • Well implemented album system
  • Fancy playback with the paint feature
  • Good image quality, low noise till ISO 400

What's not:

  • Clunky touchscreen interface (More menus than usual)
  • Limited aperture options; no custom white balance
  • Very mediocre (Slow and limited) continuous shooting
  • Redeye and some distortion; really noisy at ISO 1600

Recommended Accessories

  • 1 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo card

Content ©2005 - 2006 Digital Photography Interface. All rights reserved.
All trademarks and images are property of their respective owners.
No part of this website may be copied, posted or used anywhere
without the written permission of the website owner.

.