DPInterface Sony Cyber-shot T9 Review
Brad Soo - April 15th, 2006

The T9 is the first T-series Sony Cyber-shot to feature optical image stabilization. It also feature some very familiar ultra-thin camera "standard" features such as 6 megapixels, a 2.5 inch LCD and an internal zoom lens. In addition, the Sony T9 has what Sony calls "double anti-blur solution" which is essentially an optical image stabilizer paired with a high-sensitivity mode (ISO 640). The last T-series Cyber-shot I reviewed didn't do that well so let's see if the new 6 megapixel CCD will help.

Size and Weight

This is the T9 compared to competition:

(161.2)  86.0 x 53.5 x 21.7 mm (140 g) - Canon PowerShot SD600 Digital ELPH
(166.0)  88.5 x 57.0 x 20.5 mm (112 g) - Casio Exilim Z600
(163.6)  90.0 x 55.0 x 18.6 mm (130 g) - Fujifilm FinePix Z2
(177.0)  93.0 x 61.0 x 23.0 mm (130 g) - HP Photosmart R727
(171.2)  101.0 x 49.8 x 20.4 mm (125 g) - Kodak EasyShare V570
(163.6)  92.0 x 50.0 x 21.6 mm (120 g) - Kodak EasyShare V603
(172.0)  93.0 x 59.0 x 20.0 mm (135 g) - Nikon Coolpix S5
(178.5)  97.0 x 55.0 x 26.5 mm (128 g) - Olympus Stylus 600
(170.2)  94.0 x 50.8 x 25.4 mm (132 g) - Panasonic Lumix FX01
(159.0)  86.0 x 54.0 x 19.0 mm (100 g) - Pentax Optio S6
(175.3)  96.5 x 61.0 x 17.8 mm (130 g) - Samsung Digimax i6
(165.2)  89.7 x 54.9 x 20.6 mm (134 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T9
(174.8)  95.0 x 56.5 x 23.3 mm (139 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T30

As usual, I've included the "DPI measurement unit" (As opposed to volume) on the left for a more accurate impression of a camera's size.

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 is very compact and quite light. Don't let those numbers fool you - tiny differences in dimensions won't hurt!

Open up the Box

Open up that box and along with the T9 comes:

  • Rechargeable NP-FT1 InfoLithium lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB + A/V cable
  • CD-ROM
  • User's manual

Storage and Power

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 has 58 MB of internal memory to start you off though you'd want to get yourself a larger 256 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo.

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 has good battery life of 240 shots (CIPA Standard) on a single charge. That's quite a bit above average. The NP-FT1 InfoLithium battery the W30 uses gives you a detailed "minute" battery indicator.

160 shots - Canon PowerShot SD600 Digital ELPH
500 shots - Casio Exilim Z600
170 shots - Fujifilm FinePix Z2
N/A - HP Photosmart R727
150 shots - Kodak EasyShare V570
150 shots - Kodak EasyShare V603
210 shots - Nikon Coolpix S5
330 shots - Olympus Stylus 600
320 shots - Panasonic Lumix FX01
130 shots - Pentax Optio S6
N/A - Samsung Digimax i6
240 shots - Sony Cyber-shot T9
420 shots - Sony Cyber-shot T30

 

Extras

The only accessory for the Sony Cyber-shot T9 is a sports pack for going 3 m underwater.

Camera Tour

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 is available in your choice of silver or...

...white.

Sony Cyber-shot T9 has a 38 - 114 mm lens (3x optical zoom). The aperture range is F3.5 - F4.3. The internal lens never extends as the optical path leads downwards to the 1/2.5 inch 6 megapixel CCD.

Directly next to the lens is an AF-assist beam emits a red beam of light to help the camera focus in dark conditions as well as become a countdown lamp in self-timer mode and the flash unit which has a weak maximum range of 3 m at ISO Auto.

The large lens cover is manually opened and closed to turn the camera on/off.

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 features a 2.5 inch LCD which has only 230,000 pixels. Visibility is very good outdoors and averagely visible in low-light. The T9 has 3 tiny speaker holes to the left of its big LCD.

The display button changes the amount of info displayed as not everyone wants a cluttered LCD! Next up are the MENU, resolution/delete photo and slideshow buttons.

The 5-way controller has these functions:

  • Up - Flash setting (Auto, on, off, slow-sync - redeye reduction is turned on/off in the menu)
  • Down - Self-timer (On/off)
  • Left - Quick review
  • Right - Macro (On/off)

The Sony T9 has is a mode switch up here (Playback, shooting, movie), a microphone (above the words "Power"), a power button and shutter button. The small button at the very right is the OIS button which toggles image stabilization modes.

On the right of the camera is a battery/card slot. The door covering the battery/card slot locks firmly into place when closed and the spring loaded hinge means it pops out quickly when opened. The tripod mount at the bottom makes it possible to change batteries/Memory Stick Duo when on a tripod.

Shooting

The T9 is a simple point-and-shoot ultra-thin camera. You can select one of the Sony Cyber-shot T9's many image sizes in addition to its 6 effective megapixels. Other image size options available include 3 megapixels, 2 megapixels, 1 megapixel and VGA plus two compression options - Fine and Standard.

Being a point-and-shoot camera, there's not much for you to change; these being somewhat of manual controls:

  • 5 white balance presets (no custom option)
  • ISO (80, 100, 200, 400, 640)
  • Auto focus (Multi, center, preset distance)
  • Metering method
  • Flash intensity (High, normal, low)
  • Exposure bracketing

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 can go as close as 1 cm in macro mode (using magnifying glass mode) - which is pretty impressive.

Recording

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 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 a bumbling 8 FPS!

Exposure is automatically adjusted and image stabilization can be turned on while recording, but unlike other cameras, the Sony T9 cannot constantly focus or zoom (optical or digital) while recording a movie.

Overall movie quality is very good.

Performance

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 starts up quickly after flipping down the lens cover. Focusing speed is very fast - taking 1.5 seconds.

The T9 took 9 photos at 1 FPS during continuous shooting. Buffer clearing was done at a fairly acceptable speed. The lens takes nearly 3 seconds to reach telephoto and powers down in 2 seconds.

Image Quality

Since these test photos were taken a while back, I couldn't use my test chart... So I used one of the brochures in the T9's box as a test subject:


ISO 80 (f3.5, 1/6 sec)


ISO 100 (f3.5, 1/8 sec)


ISO 200 (f3.5, 1/15 sec)


ISO 400 (f3.5, 1/30 sec)


ISO 640 (f3.5, 1/50 sec)

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 produces fairly acceptable photos, even at high ISOs. The ISO 80 to 200 crops are obviously acceptable. The ISO 400 and 640 shots are not very noisy but over-sharpened.

There appears to be not much distortion or chromatic aberration (color fringing in photos). Redeye is a problem as usual but the only major image issue the T9 has is corner softness. Overall, the T9 produces some fairly nice, but just average, photos.

Photo gallery

Why not see the full-sized photos for yourself? Check out the T9 photo gallery.

Playback

In playback, the Sony Cyber-shot T9 can playback stills and movies (With sound) as well as perform these functions: Protect image, print marking, direct printing (The T9 is PictBridge enabled), slideshow, resize, trim, rotate and edit movies. You can also zoom up to 5x into still photos taken and take a look around using the 4 arrow buttons. Choose to see no info, basic info or lots of info about your photos. A histogram is shown both while shooting and in playback.

The T9 has improved playback features like the recent N1 and M2.

 

Conclusion

The Sony Cyber-shot T9 features a 6 megapixel CCD, 3x zoom lens, 2.5 inch LCD, optical image stabilization and high sensitivity mode.

The 2.5 inch LCD is high in resolution though not that clear in low-light. Despite that, at least you won't get many blurry photos with the T9's optical image stabilization and usable high sensitivity ISO 640 mode.

There are somethings the T9 lacks like improved movie mode (with zoom, maybe?) since that same old VGA 30 FPS movie mode has been there for ages! Image quality (in terms of sharpness and edges) should be improved - It's been like that over the past 6 T-series cameras.

I think that the Sony Cyber-shot T9 is an acceptable camera with an excellent macro mode, low-light capabilities (except the LCD) and portability. But if you expect excellent image quality or manual controls, this is not your camera!

What's hot:

  • Good battery life
  • Optical image stabilizer
  • High-resolution 2.5 inch LCD
  • 1 cm macro mode
  • Usable high ISO (Even at ISO 640)
  • Unlimited VGA 30 FPS movie mode
  • Average image quality

What's not:

  • No manual controls (at all!)
  • Slow and limited continuous shooting
  • Performance could be faster and better
  • Weak flash
  • Redeye and some corner softness

Recommended Accessories

  • 256 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo card
  • Extra NP-FT1 battery

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