Lineage doesn’t always count for much in gadgetland, but cameras are a different matter. Making a box that takes decent photos seems to be a skill few companies can master, especially with any consistency.

That’s why Nikon and Canon are still at the top of the tree. And Sony has been climbing to the upper branches like a chimp with some expert rope-and-pulley systems.

The T30 rolled into town in the wake of the T7 and T9, two of the finest compact snappers of 2005, and it packs even more power than those illustrious predecessors.

Look round the back and tell us you don’t get a little clammy over that new 3in display. The sensor has been upped to 7.2megapixels as well, and goes to a supersensitive ISO 1000 for shooting in low light. The casing is aluminium – even though it feels more like solid plastic – and you can’t complain about the sleek styling.

It’s in use, though, that this finely honed image-taker leaves the others in the blocks, wondering what happened to the starter’s pistol.

The sensible-shoes lens cover acts as an on/off switch when slid up or down, and popping it down results in almost instant start-up. Shutter lag also seems non-existent – the autofocus locks on in an instant, even in dark rooms where flash might be needed.

Talking of flash, things are almost as quick when it’s called into play, which makes a nice change. Thanks to the reliable image stabiliser and high maximum ISO, though, the flash isn’t needed as often as you might be used to.

Picture quality is tip-top, with punchy colours and razor-sharp detail. There’s very little noise or evidence of over-sharpening, which is incredible for such a small camera. The flash shots also look quite natural – probably more so than they have any right to, coming from a compact.

On the downside, the huge screen is a bit grainy and has a ton of motion blur, which can make fast framing tricky – you don’t want to shoot quick-moving subjects with this. The zoom control is also snoringly slow, taking over two seconds from wide to telephoto.

Review continues after the break...

The metal casing may feel fairly solid but the door to the battery and memory card is a little flimsy. The back, with its massive LCD, is impossible to keep clean from fingerprints, but that’s just being picky.

In all though, you won’t find better performance from a package anywhere near as tiny.

Stuff says... 

Sony DSC-T30 review

Awesome photos from a stylish and compact package – the best in its class