Sony’s excellent T-series began way back in the mists of time with the T10, and now the 10.1MP T500 has arrived the lead the new generation.
While things have changed on the compact scene lately – Fujifilm’s Z200fd is now our choice pick at this size – the T-series’ basic design is much the same. It’s sleek, with a slide-down lens cover and is about the size and shape of a deck of cards.
Each incarnation has built on the last, and the big news for the T500 is HD movie recording. With camcorders getting smaller by the day, it was never going to be long before someone made a bid for the hybrid crown, and that’s what the T500’s going for.
While some may be disappointed with a maximum clip length of ten minutes, you can’t have everything. What you can do is record stereo sound with your clips, use the optical zoom while recording and even take still images, with no interruption. Clever Sony.
The still camera boasts 5x optical zoom, plus all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a good compact snapper.
There’s face detection, optical image stabilisation and ISO 3200 for low light conditions, though this, like most compacts, could perform better. However, it’s more than made up for by the macro mode, which is capable of producing truly stunning results.
The huge 3.5in touchscreen takes up the whole back of the camera and is pretty darn satisfying to use, and with its transflective coating it remains bright even in direct sunlight. It’s not the best we’ve ever seen (the T700’s is much higher resolution), but it’s bright and clear, and feels tough.
You can tap anywhere on the touchscreen and the T500 will (after a momentary delay), refocus on that part of the image – a neat trick, although simply locking focus and recomposing is probably easier.
Once you’ve shot your masterpiece you can connect the T500 to a HDTV by HDMI and admire your handiwork in glorious high definition.
There’s no question the T500 is a fine compact camera and a great piece of eye candy, but if money’s tight the Fujifilm Z200fd and Canon IXUS 85 IS both edge it in the performance-per-pound stakes.