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Sony DSC F828 - A User Report from China

by Damon Fernandes, 2004


[Note that this is a user report, not a comparative camera review. The views expessed in this article are those of the author, not photo.net]

For full specs on the Sony DSC F828 see the DSC F828 Specifications Page.

The Sony DSC F828: A "Real" Prosumer Camera

I have been a photographer for almost twenty years. I have used many different types of cameras, mainly SLRs. My camera of choice before the digital revolution was the Canon AE1 Program, an excellent camera that was capable of stunning shots. When the digital revolution began, I held out until I heard great things about the Nikon 885, also an excellent camera that produced amazing results for me. Last winter I caught wind of a new camera that was supposed to redefine the digital camera, the F828. Its predecessor, the 717, had been touted as the best 5 megapixel prosumer camera ever made so naturally there was significant buzz about the F828. I did the research, searched the forums, looked at the samples, and finally decided to go for the F828 as my new "go to" camera. I must say that after 3,000 pictures, I have yet to be disappointed.

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What grabs you initially is the camera's feel. It feels like you're holding an SLR from the past. It's sturdy, feels good in the hand, and gives you an unquestionable feel of a "real" camera. Now, I love my Nikon 885, but it never felt like I was really a photographer when I was using it...there was always something missing. It feels very touristy, almost like the pictures I'm taking are going to end up with thumbprints on them, discarded in some drawer. I feel like I'm taking great pictures with the F828 and this confidence definitely carries over when you're using it. Once you hold the F828, you will know what I mean.

The Sony DSC F828 has 8 megapixel resolution with a 4:3 aspect ratio. It can also take 7.1MP images with a 3:2 aspect ratio, 5MP, 3MP, and 1MP images. 8MP is enough to make a very large print and still see no difference between it and a film print. The lens is fixed but what a lens it is. It stretches from a wide angle 28mm all the way to a telephoto 200mm. This gives the photographer plenty of range to work with. Also, the zoom is activated on the lens itself unlike most prosumer cameras that have a left/right knob that controls the zoom. With zoom on the lens, it feels more like a "real" camera. Also, when manual focus is selected, the manual ring on the lens is used, also giving the photographer a more natural feel. My favorite features of this camera are:

  • Manual zoom ring
  • Long battery life (over 5 hours of continuous use with review)
  • 28-200 mm lens
  • Super fast auto-focus
  • Logical controls
  • Magnesium alloy body

The Sensor

The sensor is 2/3" (8.8 x 6.6 mm) with a top resolution of 7.99 million pixels. You can switch to other resolutions as  below:

  • 8M: 3264 x 2448 (7.99 million pixels)
  • 3:2: 3264 x 2176
  • 5M: 2592 x 1944
  • 3M: 2048 x 1536
  • 1M: 1280 x 960
  • VGA: 640 x 480

These changes are helpful when on the road but all of these changes can be made with a post-processing program like PhotoShop. The most useful is the 3:2 which is good when the camera is flipped upright for a long, vertical shot.

File Sizes

These are typical file sizes. Note that all resolutions can be saved as Jpeg (fine or standard), Tiff or RAW

  • RAW: 16.5 MB + 2.4 MB JPEG (8M FINE)
  • 8M TIFF: 22.9 MB
  • 8M FINE JPEG: 2.4 MB
  • 8M STD JPEG: 1.6 MB
  • 5M FINE JPEG: 1.7 MB
  • 3M FINE JPEG: 1.1 MB
  • 1M FINE JPEG: 0.5 MB
  • VGA FINE JPEG: 0.1 MB

The Lens

The lens is a Carl Zeiss, very durable and very fast. At the widest focal length, 28 mm, the maximum aperture setting is 2.0. At the maximum telephoto setting, 200mm, the maximum aperture is 2.8. The smallest aperture setting is f8 for both ends of the focal length. The lens is all glass with a magnesium alloy barrel. It's extremely beautiful. When I hold the lens, it feels heavy, not too heavy to carry, but rather a heaviness that allows me to feel confident in the capabilities of the lens. This is extremely important because, as a photographer, one needs to feel confident that what is seen will translate to the sensor. The fact that the lens isn't removable doesn't concern me because the range of the camera is sufficient. After all, if I needed to go 400 mm, I'd get a different camera. This lens makes one feel like the shot will be there after you snap it.

Exposure Modes

The exposure modes on the camera cater to all kinds of photographers. You have complete control with this camera. There is full manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, full auto, as well as four scene modes: twilight; twilight portrait; landscape; portrait. These will allow any photographer from beginner to expert to craft their shot with ease. There is also a movie mode that allows 640x480 video at 30 fps provided you are using a memory stick pro or a microdrive (the F828 supports both storage formats - another significant plus).

My favorite shooting mode is shutter priority since I shoot mainly outdoor street shots. The dial on the F828 allows you to make rapid changes to the shutter speed making that dark picture brighter with a simple spin of the dial. The live histogram helps tremendously here as the LCD will become brighter as you make the shutter speed slower and vice versa. Making the background blurry has always been great fun for me as I like the bokeh effect. My old digicam, the Nikon 885, would give me some but the F828 really delivers.

In aperture priority mode, the ring can be opened all the way to f2 and closed down to f8. This isn't a great range as some DSLRs go to f32 but for what I do, it's plenty. At f8 the entire frame is crisp and sharp and at f2, the bokeh I'm looking for to achieve that distinctive look can be had. While in these two modes, the lightness and darkness can still be tweaked some more in EV mode making the photographer almost fully in control. Now, if you want to go all the way you can, in manual mode. Here you control everything and it's a joy to do so. The exposure mode on the F828 is phenomenal.

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ISO settings

The ISO settings go from 64 through 800. The noise above 200 is too much for my style of photography but, as I only shoot 64, this is never a problem for me. In lower light I simply use 100 or 200 and grab my tripod. ISO 800 is noisy but, depending on what you shoot, shouldn't be a problem especially if you post-process which, in my opinion, is just as important as the shot itself. The lack of a crisp ISO 800 may deter some, but you must decide which features you need in a camera. If you're going to shoot in low-light situations where crisp images are a must, then you probably need a different camera. But for outdoor photography or indoor with sufficient light, the F828 will never let you down. One of the main reasons for this is that it has hologram assisted auto focus that will focus in complete darkness. So, if you're using a flash, your picture will always be crisp, even in low light. However, if you're shooting with available light, the F828 will be grainy.

White balance

Modes:

  • Auto
  • Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Fluorescent
  • Incandescent
  • Flash
  • Manual

The auto white balance works quite well for me. Only on very sunny days do I change it to the sunny setting. Sony did an excellent job with the auto white balance. There is also a manual setting that saves like a custom function. The dial that controls the white balance is very conveniently located at the top of the camera for easy access. Other cameras have this adjustment buried in menus but the F828 has it right there for you. This is a great feature since going from inside to outside is a common occurrence and having to stumble through menus and miss your shot is frustrating. Sony makes it easy with all the dials you need to control major functions available without menu navigation.

Autofocus Modes

There are three autofocus modes, single, monitor, and continuous. Single focuses one time. Monitor lets the camera focus constantly, without pressing the shutter halfway. Continuous focuses all the time, even when the shutter is pressed halfway. This is primarily useful for sports/action photography. With autofocus and manual focus with the ring, the F828 allows the photographer to work in almost any situation giving the photographer what he or she wants the most: control.

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Metering Modes

There are 3 metering modes: multi-pattern, center-weighted, and spot. There are advantages to each and here once again Sony has given control to the photographer. The spot mode is my favorite because it allows you to expose for the spot where you're aiming regardless of the surrounding area. Then you can lock the exposure, again, conveniently on the outside of the camera, and continue without having to expose again and again. The multi-pattern gives you the overall best exposure for the whole frame while the center-weighted exposure exposes for the center of the frame, good for portraits. Great options.

Viewfinder/LCD Screen

The viewfinder is electronic meaning that when you look through it you are actually viewing a smaller LCD screen, not the actual image as you would see through a traditional viewfinder. I have adjusted to this digital change and now hardly notice that when I look through the viewfinder, I am looking at a very small screen. Since I take mostly street photographs, I usually use the main LCD on the body. The image inside of the viewfinder is really clear and crisp. It displays the same information that is displayed on the LCD on the outside. This is great because it allows you to change your settings without taking your eye away from the subject.

The 1.8 inch LCD screen is very large and very clear. It's really good for shooting from the hip. If you are into street photography as I am, the swivel body with the rear LCD allows you to shoot pictures of people without their knowing. It may not be ethical, but it does work well. Both screens are very clear and are adjustable in two levels for background and brightness of the lettering. I like this because it allows me to have a bright screen with more gentle writing. I have experienced no problems with it as far as getting the shot in bright or dim situations. It is 134,000 pixels.

Data Display

The main LCD screen displays all the data you would need and even gives you a choice of what info to display. By far the best display option is the live histogram which alerts you to extreme situations as far as lighting. There is a zoom function available during playback that is very useful when deciding if and where you want to crop. The screen displays which mode you are shooting in, your white balance mode, EV adjustments if any, remaining frames on your card or memory stick, battery life remaining in minutes (very useful!), flash setting, megapixels being shot, shutter and aperture settings, metering mode, and ISO. You can show all of these with the live histogram or you can choose to shoot with only shutter and aperture displayed.

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Flash

The built-in flash is very effective and allows low, medium, and bright settings. The camera also boasts a very good red-eye reduction feature. When shooting in night framing mode, the camera focuses in complete darkness using the hologram focus (projected laser) and then fires the flash for a crisp picture. You can also disable the on-board flash and insert a more versatile flash (i.e. one with a tilt and swivel head for bounce flash) in the hot shoe.

Timing Issues

The camera goes from off to taking a picture in under one second. This is the fastest non-SLR I have ever used. There is virtually no delay when taking pictures except if you are shooting in RAW. A RAW picture takes about 5 seconds to write. If you mainly shoot in JPEG, this will be no problem for you. I find that when shooting on a typical day, I never miss a picture, even if the camera is off, because it starts up so quickly. Once it's on, the very fast focusing will keep your camera up to speed with your eye.

Batteries

The camera comes with a very long-lasting battery. The replacement batteries are easy to find and cost around US $30. They last over five hours per charge so buying an extra is a good idea, but not necessary for most casual photographers. I always carry a spare and I never have had to use it. You must charge the battery in-camera unless you buy the external charger separately which I recommend. The battery life changes depending on the mode you're in and which kind of media you are saving to. I've found that the battery lasts longer when writing images to the memory stick pro but even when using the compact flash, the battery  never dies on me. You can get about 310 minutes from using the memory stick and about 270 with the compact flash. In either mode you can get a full day of shooting done without replacing the battery or typically somewhere around 500 shots with 20% flash use

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Software

The software is not very good. I use PhotoShop and would recommend it as a standard software for digital photography. The software that comes with the camera is sufficient for basic manipulation, but for any degree of deeper post-processing, PhotoShop is the answer.

Image Quality

The pictures that the Sony produces are incredibly sharp and natural. As far as the "purple fringing" issue, for me it wasn't a problem. In 3,000 frames, I've seen it maybe four times. I have no idea why there is such a focus on this issue in the various forums on the web. I've read that there are ways to get around the issue, but really, it hasn't been an issue for me. I feel safe in saying that with the type of images I shoot, I have not experienced a purple fringing problem with the F828.

Shutter

There is a nice option on this camera that allows you to turn on a shutter sound. This may sound silly, but it feels like you're taking a picture when this sound is turned on. There is also an option that gives a beep sound when you snap, and there's a silent mode. When I'm walking around casually, I use the shutter sound but if I'm trying to be sneaky, I turn it to silent. It's a cool feature.

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Conclusion

This is the best digital camera I have yet used. I give it a 9 out of 10 rating only because nothing is perfect. The Sony DSC F828 is pretty close though. A great camera for the enthusiast and beginner alike. It allows the beginner to grow, the enthusiast to progress, and the professional to get the shots he needs. If you already have a DSLR, I recommend this camera as a backup as its not as big as a DSLR and takes high quality photographs.

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All text and images © Copyright 2004 Damon Fernandes

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



K. Rivkin , August 10, 2004; 09:44 P.M.

Being a jerk I would reply:

It seems that the reviewer is not objective in his comments. On multiple occasions he contradicts himself, for example: "The noise above 200 is too much for my style of photography.... ISO 800 is noisy but, depending on what you shoot, shouldn't be a problem".

Overall the article could've been replaced by one phrase "it rocks man".

Some of the most interesting questions, for example the obvious lack of dynamic range are dismissed with short statements like "The pictures that the Sony produces are incredibly sharp and natural". Not judging from the photos the estimeed gentleman provides - sharp, but not natural at all(colors, dynamic range) .

In short I would consider this article an overly optimistic hailing of f828, which in the eyes of many it deserves, but not a thoughtful review.

Svein Frode , August 11, 2004; 04:00 A.M.

The CA in this camera was too horrible to live with and forced me to return it and stick with my F717. It handles great and has great usability. The construction is solid, as is the design of the body, which is nothing short amazing - other manufacturers should have followed a long time ago. SONY's live histogram should be a standard feature in every camera! Picture quality isn't there yet, and noise is an issue for those who like clean images. I'd rather have an el cheapo SLR and lens loaded with film for any close to professional task! If you don't print larger than 8x10 (A4) and need the best compromise between quality and usability, this is the camera for you. For the professional this is just a toy, though it can be utilized for assignments were quality isn't rated above content. Great camera for journalism, street, candid etc. Not for landscape, wildlife and action. Lacks sharpness (resolution) for good macro - most zoom lenses do!

Guy Hammond , August 11, 2004; 04:36 A.M.

The 28-200mm range of the lens is 35mm equivalent, it is not actually 28-200, because of the tiny sensor. Even tho' the lens is f/2.0, there is far less control over DOF than an SLR. The Canon 300D or Nikon D70 are far better choices for the serious amateur. The F828 is too bulky for a digicam and too limited for a DSLR. It's hard to see who it's useful for. Don't be fooled by the Sony hype!

Jesper de Jong , August 11, 2004; 08:11 A.M.

You mention that it has an aperture range of f/2.0 to f/8.0 and that DSLRs go up to f/32. Note that you can't directly compare the f-stop numbers of the Sony to those of a DSLR, because of the different sensor formats. f/8 on the Sony gives you a MUCH larger depth-of-field than f/8 on a DSLR.

Svein Frode , August 11, 2004; 09:24 A.M.

"f/8 on the Sony gives you a MUCH larger depth-of-field than f/8 on a DSLR."

NO! It gives you exactly the same depth of field!!! The Sony F828 is fitted with a 7.1 - 51mm lens (the 28-200mm spec. is just a confusing 35mm comparison that does nothing other than describe the angle of view of the lens) Fit your DSLR with a 7.1mm lens (if you can find one), set the aperture to f8 and see for youself!

Gregory Gardner , August 11, 2004; 11:50 A.M.

I expect much better reviews from photo.net. In particular, the review should be much more objective and scientific. Sure, photography is an art, and subjective, but instead of saying:

8MP is enough to make a very large print and still see no difference between it and a film print.

How about telling us exactly the largest print you've made? Some people here think 8"x10" is big. Others think 30x40 is big. Others think that is just getting started.

At f8 the entire frame is crisp and sharp and at f2, the bokeh I'm looking for to achieve that distinctive look can be had

Again, bokeh is pretty darn subjective, but how about some examples? I only see one image with a background much out of focus, but I wouldn't call that a good example of difficult bokeh. Moreover, on this one example, the subject seems pretty close to the camera, the easiest situation to blur the background. How about a more challenging example?

The noise above 200 is too much for my style of photography

Again, how about an example? What is your style? Maybe the noise level is good enough for me -- how would I know?

Please photo.net, let's keep the quality of the site higher than this!

Damon Fernandes , August 11, 2004; 11:50 A.M.

Glad that people are looking at the review! I'm not an author nor a reviewer and I went into this review with an idea to tell people my experiences with the camera. There are plenty of other sites that review in the style that you desire. There is a niche for this review even if you think it's terrible; someone will get something from it so that's good, right? Let's all remember that we're all here to learn.

Bob Atkins , August 11, 2004; 12:46 P.M.

If readers would note, the title of this article is Sony DSC F828 - A USER REPORT. It's not intended to be a detailed and objective technical review of the camera - and that's why right at the top of the article it says "Note that this is a user report, not a comparative camera review. The views expessed in this article are those of the author, not photo.net".

I decided to run this article, not because it gives a totally objective technical review of the Sony DSC F828 - which it's not intended to do - but because it gives the opinions and experience of someone who has actually bought and used the camera - something that perhaps many of those offering criticism cannot say.

Yes, the F828 has problems which have been documented elsewhere, but despite these, someone who actually USES the camera is very happy with it. The ultimate goal of a photographer isn't to have the most perfect piece of equipment from a technical point of view, but to have a camera with which they can make the images which make them happy.

Clearly Damon is very happy with his F828. This article reflects that. I doubt Damon is the only happy user. I don't think it's fair to criticise him for not doing something he never set out to do, i.e. technical tests. He's reporting his experience with the F828. It might not be your experience, but it's just as valid.

Photo.net thanks Damon for taking the time and trouble to write an article detailing his experience with the F828 and for sharing it with the readership of the photo.net website.

Steve Chan , August 11, 2004; 05:33 P.M.

The ultimate goal of a photographer isn't to have the most perfect piece of equipment from a technical point of view, but to have a camera with which they can make the images which make them happy.

If you are going to reduce things to such a subjective extreme, then these sorts of articles may be of no relevance to anyone other than the author of the article!

I think part of the problem is that while the article purports to be a report on one user's personal experience with the camera, specifications are quoted, a bunch of objective "data" is given, and the overall layout of the article follows the structure of an objective, comparative review.

In all honesty, I found his photographs far more interesting than the review. To me, it would have been a far more credible article if the tone was more along the lines of "I managed to take lots of excellent pictures with the Sony F828, despite it's so-called shortcomings. So much for the pixel-peepers and armchair photographers." - that would have made your agenda crystal clear, and probably set the expectations appropriately.

Bob Atkins , August 11, 2004; 07:28 P.M.

I don't have an agenda - though perhaps you do? It's not my article, it's Damon's. If you don't like it, fine, but don't knock Damon for writing his experiences and don't knock photo.net for publishing it.

I knew that we'd have a bunch of nit-pickers who would attack the article, which is why I added the disclamer to the top and labelled it a User Report rather than a Review. However nothing stops the nit-pickers.

The alternative is to have absolutely nothing on the site at all about the F828, since Damon was the only member of photo.net who was prepared to take the time and trouble to write for us on this subject.

If he didn't do a good enough job for you, please send in your contribution to the site and we'll be glad to consider it for publication.

If you have some reasoned judgement on the F828 based on actual use, post it here in the comments section for everyone's benefit.

Steve Chan , August 12, 2004; 01:44 A.M.

So Bob, what is the process for submitting an article? I have no problems with contributing to photo.net and submitting to the scrutiny of "the peanut gallery" (what is the internet after all, if not the world's biggest peanut gallery).

I don't have a review of the Sony F828, because after evaluating it, handling it, and taking some test shots, I felt that it didn't really fit my needs as well as other cameras (though I did lust after the lens on the Sony, "purple fringing" and all). However, there was some clear reasoning that went into it, and an assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of the various cameras against my personal requirements. The Sony may fit someone else's needs better than the camera I ended up buying - there is nothing wrong with that.

But what would be good to see is a little more discussion about the benefits and drawbacks. The Sony has many benefits, which are well represented in the article, but the drawbacks are glossed over.

In all sincerity, I feel bad for Damon, because he clearly put effort into writing the review, and he clearly has great photos to show, but it looks like he has only been subjected to a stream of complaints as a consequence. This is unfair, and unwarranted, and I apologize if I have appear to be piling on. My opinion is that if the editor knew that there would be a bunch of criticism of the article, then he should have provided some guidance so that the article sets expectations properly. As I said, I think Damon's photos are show off his abilities and the potential of the Sony nicely, but overall it follows the structure of an objective review so much that it is hard not to evaluate it in that context (small print, italicised disclaimer at the top notwithstanding).

Bernd Kunze , August 12, 2004; 03:02 A.M.

Hi,

I have eyed the F828 for quite some time until I finally bought it. Having been afraid of the overall postings regarding PF and CA, I must say that the F828 is no worse than say the Canon G5.

Anyway, Damons report is HIS subjective view and there is no requirement for scientifics etc.pp unless Damon wants to share it. FWIW, I couldn't do that as well since I am a user, not a scientist.

Thanks Damon for sharing.

B/

Lam Nguyen , August 12, 2004; 12:30 P.M.

I do not think it's fair to critize the reviewer for his user's review of this camera. If you do not like the camera, so be it, pull your lip over your head and get over it, but don't making the non-sense bs comments to make people laugh. There many other users who actually like the camera and happy with it. There are also many of in-experience users, who do not understand of how to maximize the potential of this camera, bad pictures are from users who most of times made mistakes and try to blame on the camera. Remember, this is a very useful tool to help you to create better pictures, so learn how to use it instead of crying and whining about it, it's a total bs attitude.

So stop the bs and move on with life, life is good...if you can't take good pictures with this Sony F-828, I suggest you move on with life with another hobby to save your times and energy.

K. Rivkin , August 12, 2004; 01:18 P.M.

Again defending my criticism: This user report basically is written like: "focusing - rocks ! Image quality - superb ! Zooming -Oyaah !".

Just one phrase "I like the camera" would be enough. It reminds me of time when I got my first digital SLR (Oly 2500). I was constantly making statements "Some people don't like this and that... Well, that's irrelevant, the camera is superb and really comparable with 35mm film".

I'm yet to find someone who was helped by my uncritical fascination with my new electronic thingy.

I'm sorry for my criticism, and there are some valuable things in this review, but being more comparative with other cameras (film, DSLR, 8Mp consumer) would make it a review instead of user report.

Concerning technicalities I'm pretty much against them. Most of the people who use numbers in reviews really don't understand what these numbers mean.

Marc Alexandre Pilgrem , August 12, 2004; 02:24 P.M.

I have been a user of the DSC F828 for the past 9 months, and thought I could contribute a few comments. First of all, many thanks to Damon for taking the time to write this paper. Like Damon, I have yet to be disappointed by the camera, which has served its purpose well. After a few thousand pictures, I can say it is fantastic value for the money.

I find the quality of the pictures I get with the camera outstanding, provided you stay within the camera's limits:

- ISO: at 64 and 100 ISO, noise is not more of an issue than with any other digital camera - including DSLRs. I also use a Nikon D70, and the difference between the two at these sensitivities on a printed picture is negligible. 200 ISO starts to look like film grain at 400 ISO in low light, anything beyond is unusable for me. Noise Ninja does wonders, but I stick to 100 ISO for most of my pictures.

- Resolution: I printed 11x14 coming out of this camera, and they look really good - I would say low ISO film quality. Much better than your average print out of your average lab, out of your average 35mm camera+lens, taken by your average photographer. In any case, I believe this camera was defined for everyday use by average people, and I don't believe it was meant to replace RZ67 or Linhof LF cameras. I don't know if there is a lot of these users that print 30x40 so it should not be a factor.

- Purple Fringe / CA: I have seen some PF/CA from this camera, probably more than Damon mentions in his review (car bumpers in the sun, reflections from windows, flash reflection in the eyes for portraits, and more). As I mentioned in a previous post, this is easily fixed in PS (about 10 seconds with a PS action widely available on the net), so for me it is not a factor. It may be for the people that print straight out of the camera with no post-processing (a strange idea, in my opinion, since post processing is probably as important as picture taking with digital).

- DoF: I have more of an issue with that one than the others, but it is not unsurmountable. You will have more DoF with this camera than with a DSLRs due to the small sensor. You really need to know how to use the camera to maximize DoF effect (use longer focal, limit to f2.8 and take pictures as close to subject as possible). I have still managed to make decent portraits with the camera, though. As I stated, you have to know the limits of the camera, and for me, this is one of them.

I could carry on, and will be happy to clarify any of the above for those who have comments.

I am a convinced user, based on the results I have obtained and strongly recommend it to others. But then, any camera can do wonders in the hands of a photographer that knows how to use the tool. And that's what you get with it in the end: nothing more or less than a well built camera.

Andreas Falco , August 12, 2004; 04:02 P.M.

I am using the 828 since March of 2004. I have made just over 4000 photograph with it since. I am mostly satisfied with the results. (When not then usually I am to blame...) Purple fringing is a problem and the free Photoshop actions I tried to get rid of it alter the other colors as well so I usually do it the hard way: manually with the color replacement tool. It may took a while but it is worth it. The noise is a bigger problem but only bothers me at 100% (usually on the screen). But I only use ISO 64. Just to give you some hints of the noise and the PF I prepared some examples. Example #1 is a 100% crop of an unmodified image. (Actually the original image using not only WEB colors is much smoother looking). Example #2 consists of 3 images: 2 100% crops (one without PF correction and one with it) and the small version of the whole image so you may see the size of the crop. The sharpnes is not optimal because this is a hand-held 1 sec exposure through a glass window in a museum. I pressed the objective to the glass and tried to hold it still.

Image Attachment: SonyExamples.jpg

Meryl Arbing , August 12, 2004; 04:41 P.M.

Sony is the market leader in digital camera sales and innovation and, as such, it is a 'big target' that attracts the wrath of users of any other brand. Simply stating that you have a camera that you are happy with and are pleased with the results and that the name on the camera is Sony is enough to earn you several stern lectures.

Many people can't bear to have anything good said about Sony. The fact that most of the other brands of digital cameras share much of their internal electronics with Sony doesn't enter into it. The fact that the whole digital camera industry was started by Sony (when they used the first MAVICA [MAgnetic VIdeo CAmera] to photograph the '84 LA Olympics) doesn't matter.

I am surprised that we didn't get the "It isn't a REAL Zeiss lens!" accusation thrown at you since it is quite common.

In the end, you are a fan! You gave a positive review! That is fine. Enjoy your camera. Take pictures that you like but remember that many people can't stand the fact that you are satisfied with a Sony camera!

Cliff Calhoun , August 13, 2004; 01:54 P.M.

I liked the review. It was not perfect, but what is?

It provided what is generally lacking in many reports/reviews -- hands on experience and simple feedback from someone that has used the camera extensively.

Great job, Damon! Thanks.

Bob Atkins , August 13, 2004; 05:57 P.M.

"My opinion is that if the editor knew that there would be a bunch of criticism of the article, then he should have provided some guidance so that the article sets expectations properly"

Maybe I should have said I suspected it would attract a bunch of UNFAIR criticism!

If I'd been writing the review myself, I would have compared purple fringing with several other digicams and DSLRs with several different lenses. I'd also have done comparative studies of noise.

HOWEVER, most authors don't have several other digicams lying around, so asking them to provide comparative data isn't an option. Even if they did there are lots of variables in testing that can cause probems for inexperienced testers.

So I'm happy to accept user contributions (user reports) which don't go into deep technical details, because most people reading the reviews won't go into deep technical testing either! If I do a review, I'd do it in detail, but I have the background and experience to do that.

It's interesting - and instructive - to note the positive opinions expressed by several other long time users of the F828. Despite it's technical problems (PF and noise), it nevertheless seems to be a good choice for many people who actually use it. Perhaps this illustrates that depending on raw technical data may not be the best way to chose a camera for many people.

BTW I have declined to print some "user reports" which basically said "the camera is great" or "the camera sucks" in a couple of paragraphs. Damon's article was certainly NOT in that category. We don't publish everything that gets offered to us, and we do work with authors to improve articles that could clearly be improved with some small changes or additions.

Joseph Liftik , August 15, 2004; 01:09 P.M.

This is an appropriate article, it's a helpful point of view for all the reasons discussed above.... what really turns me off, is the quick and misplaced hyper criticalness displayed by some forum members. This hyper criticalness is great when you apply it in photo critics, but here.....it's just nasty.

Costas Zividis , August 17, 2004; 08:24 A.M.

Thanks to Damon for his report. For the people that hear "sony" and react badly no matter what:

I do understand that Sony is not a photo company and that only makes hard for people to accept that Sony makes some VERY very good photo cameras, like 717 and V1. If 828 is good or bad, makes little difference. For example my V1 has a LOT of CA when i view in my monitor at 100%, and i'm still happy after one year of use. So does my G5. Lotsa of CA. So what ?

I still wanna thank the user that spend his time to write about his 828 experience.

Costas

Damon Fernandes , August 17, 2004; 01:52 P.M.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to read the article. I appreciate all of the feedback and wish everybody happy shooting!!

Cary Maures , August 19, 2004; 01:39 A.M.

Viewfinder: Cartoonish

Raw: "When can I pick it up?"

Detail: Superb!

User Friendliness: "Friendly, will call again!"

Six-Shoottin-Rating?

Five Shots!!!

Heiko Mausolf , August 19, 2004; 09:59 A.M.

I do only partially agree to this review. Things that really annoy me with the F828 are the following:

- The monitor is far from being useful. One cannot judge a photo from it, because it is way too tiny and colours aren't accurate. And it's heavily prone to flare. It is especially difficult to judge sharpness on the monitor or through the viewfinder. The autofocus is nice most of the times, but in some cases it seemed to be obstructed by something, so that sharpness lay on other parts than I intended. You can hardly see that on the camera's screen.

- The flash is obstructed by the lens when set to near 28mm (equiv.). So it will cast a shadow on the lower parts of the picture. Obviously, this is even worse when you have the shade mounted. That means, that the flash is near useless.

So it took me a while to getting used to the F828. Once you have recognised it's strengths and weaknesses, it's a great performer. But it does not at all give me confidence in that my pictures are really sharp enough.

Roy Gao , August 23, 2004; 06:05 P.M.

The auther concluded that 828 is "best digital camera I have yet used" while he used on Nikon 885 before which is a basically 3MP P&S camera. So it is misleading.

Let's forget about the noise issue which I believe 885 performs even better than 828. The auther did not mention the color fringing which let me to suspect the review is not overall. If you shoot with some trees or with some reflecting surfaces, you will easily find it. Unfortunately, auther did not mention that at all.

828 is a great consumer camera from its specs, but that's it. I believe to most serious ameteurs cannot live with noise and purple fringing. It is just terrible. How can you recommend such a camera to those who spend 1000 bucks and think they will get the best for their money?

If you are in US, I would recommend a 300D/Rebel kit plus a 75-300 lens. Then a external flash will make your kit MUCH better than 828.

Damon Fernandes , August 24, 2004; 07:17 A.M.

As has been said above, the review is my experience with the 828. Purple fringing is not an issue with the camera, that is my belief stemming from my experience after having taken 5,000 photos. If you disagree, that's fine, but don't say that I'm wrong or that I am attempting to mislead anyone. As far as the Nikon 885, I didn't quite understand your sentence. Were you saying that because I used the 885 I can't comment on the 828? Please clarify.

Roy Gao , August 24, 2004; 01:17 P.M.

Hi Damon,

Firstly, apolopies for my misunderstanding. I did not realize that it is a user report before I put my input. If it is just a user report, and actually yes, it is a pretty detailed report, then my points will not be valid.

My point about 885 is that, it is earlier generation P&S 3MP DC, simplified version of 990. It is hard, at least for me, to say that 828 is the best based on your experience with just 2 DCs.

I have owned a Nikon 990, which is the best DC available when it was first released, without little argument. It has seriouse purple fringing problems, I can easily find it in my pictures. 828 seems even worse than that. Based on samples from Phil, I would suggest you to revisit your pictures and you will find it.

In addition, I guess most people will care about noise, if not all. I heard many guys called 828 the king of purple fringing and noise. I would say probably it is true. From reviews and my experience of a few DCs I owned/used, 828 creates the most PF and noise among those high-end/prosumer DCs.

From the spces, 828 sounds really exciting, but the small CCD pixels kill the 8MP idea. So if anyone want to make purchase decision based on this report, they are wrong. If anyone care about the image quality, take a look at DSLR.

Thanks, Roy

Derek Au , August 25, 2004; 04:47 P.M.

For the past couple years I've been shooting with a Contax G2 rangefinder. In switching to digital I wanted a camera just as portable as the G2 with excellent optics, and the f828 seemed like a good choice. I've been using it since the beginning of the year.

You can see pictures I've taken with it at: http://derekau.net/gallery/2004

PROS: * Portability. You can take it anywhere. * No need to change lenses while shooting. * Battery lasts a hell of a long time. * Ergonomics. The controls are easy to find and use. * Candid shooting. The swivel barrel allows you to shoot easily from the hip. * Excellent results, provided you know the limitations. * Night shot. The night shot feature can produce some really cool pictures in low-light situations. When converted to b&w it looks like grainy high-speed film.

CONS: * Takes a very long time to write RAW or TIFF files, so I shoot in JPEG * DOF!!! I really like shallow dof, especially for portraits. I disagree with Marc- it is very difficult to get shallow depth of field even when shooting wide open. * Noise. I find it a big problem, so I try to shoot at 64 or 100 as much as possible. I have tried noise ninja with ok results.

(I don't list purple fringing as a con because it hasn't affected enough of my photos to be a problem.)

In conclusion, I really like the camera, but I'm really dissapointed by the DOF issue. I'm going to sell the G2 (and perhaps the f828) and replace with a digital slr this year.

Cheers, Derek

Archie Alcantara , September 13, 2004; 02:00 A.M.

Damon thanks for the review.I thought about writing a user's experience with C-8080, but after reading the thread, I decided not to. I am not much into the technical aspects of a camera, but if the medium conveys the message...then it works.

Damon Fernandes , September 13, 2004; 06:20 P.M.

Hey Archie, thanks for the comment. You should write up the review anyway...I'm not big on technical aspects, more on the "user-ness" of the camera. Tell us about the C-8080 and give us some shots!! There's a guy over at dgrin.com who uses that camera and he takes great shots. I'd like to see yours...

Knut Skjærven , January 11, 2005; 12:56 P.M.

Damon

I have been working with a Contax G2 for several years and are now looking for a digital camera that can give me "comparable" results particularly in terms of crispness of the G2 CZ lenses.

I will do professional stuff for newspapers mainly and also some private "more artistic work". Do you think that the F828 will fill these needs? Or should I go for a Nikon D70 and compromise on "lense quality" :-). Sorry folks.

BTW, I find your review good.

Thanks.

Best regards

Knut Skj沶en

Dale Reynolds , February 10, 2005; 12:33 A.M.

I would just like to add my experience with the DCS-F828. About 15 days ago I bought the F828 knowing 2005 would be a busy photo-taking year for me. I must say I read more reviews / research about the camera after I bought it rather than before I bought it. I was a returning Sony customer having owned / still own the sony DCS CD-300 camera and was overall pleased with the CD-300. I was anything but pleased with the DCS-F828. There are two fatal flaws with this camera: CA (Purple Fringing) and Noise,, lots of it. I took pictures both indoors and outdoors and the Purple Fringing is hard to avoid period. Sure I learned via the web how to use the Hue Saturation toolin Photoshop to edit these purple fringed files but I feel strongly that this is something I should no have to do for a camera of this price. The other issue is noise. I started to read more reviews about the F828 and found that the tiny ccd on the sony leads to noise. I looked at side by side photos of the F828 in indoor studio settings and outdoor settings compared to other cameras and the F828 by far had much much much more noise than a majority of the other cameras priced in a similar price point. Long story short I had to return this camera as it could not deliver a clean photo. My Sony CD-300 while only 3.2 million pxl's produces cleaner images with no purple fringing and far less noise. I returned the F828 as it was in my view a dissapointment. This is a shame too because this camera is a beautiful piece of engineering. The build quality of the camera is 10 out of 10. The battery life is great. But this being the case after 300 or so shots taken in a couple weeks time I decided the results of high noise and purple fringing made this camera a flawed jewel. Today I own a Canon 20D and this camera has clean results. Noise at high iso settings such as 1600 seems less than the same shot taken with the Sony F828 at 64 iso. If you are considering the Sony F828 please be very careful. Today if not for the very high noise at even low iso settings and the purple fringing I would still own the F828. Sadly however Sony did not let these fatal flaws stop them from releasing this camera to market. Shame Sony.

Ben Lanterman , March 15, 2005; 06:57 P.M.

After using several P&S cameras over the last 4 years and also owning Canon SLR digital cameras I settled on a Nikon 8800 for the household's P&S and it's OK, good camera, fine zoom range, VR etc.

But, why don't the manufs follow Sony's lead and make manual zooms? Oh how I hate the electronic zoom, the on off switch on the Nikon is where the zoom was on my Canon G6. You can imagine the frustration.

I didn't buy the Sony but I looked at and tried the wonderful manual zoom and whimpered a bit. Sony did several things really right and that was one of them. Kudos.

Ruslan Lavrentyev , April 12, 2005; 11:42 A.M.

This camera works ONLY with its own the only Li-ion M-seriers battery. It suddenly dies after 3 - 4 years after you buy it. Who knows how long sony will continue producing it? And the build is AMATEURISH!!! 'Magnesium'? Feels like shoddy plastic. Very thin. Weightless. Take Nikon F100 or FM3a to compare... and the grip is very small -for child's hand.

Christopher Hagan , April 18, 2005; 04:45 P.M.

Being an F-828 owner myself, I could not have written a better review. The description of the camera, as well as it's functions were right on. For 15 years, I used the "Battle Tank" of cameras, (Pentax K-1000) and have had tremendous success with the results. When the digital cameras really hit the market, I picked up a 1.5 MP Kodak One Shot. Although I was relatively impressed with the quality of the pictures taken with this camera, the reponse was very poor. So poor that action shots were totally out of the question. When my son was born, it became obvious that speed was of the essence. I was informed by many retailers, at that time, that speed + quality results = SLR. While shopping for cameras in this catagory, ($1000.00 range) it boiled down to the F-828 or the Digital Rebel. I had been told that if you want quality optics, go with the camera companies. If you want options, go with the electronics companies. Being that 90% of a digital camera's operation today depend on electronics, I decided to go with Sony. After all, my house is full of other Sony products which have turned out to be very reliable. Not only has the camera performed flawlessly, it has taught me more about photography in the last 5 months than I've learned with the 35mm over the last 15 years. In fact, it has boosted my interest and desire in photography to a level that it struggles to fulfill. Which brings me to the only downside of the F-828. Lack of accessories. Yes, the basic options are there, but only through Sony and all of which I can count on one hand. Given the chance to do this again, I would choose the Cannon. I am by no means dissapointed in the F-828 but being my only DSLR, it has already been dubbed, my soon-to-be "backup" DSLR. Kudos to Sony! You got one hell of a camera there. F.Y.I. To those who may be in the market for this camera. The quality and reliablity can only be counted on if it's manufactured in Japan. You can find this camera for @ $300.00 less than major retailers but those are cameras manufactured in Indonesia or abroad. Good luck if those break.

Damon Fernandes , April 19, 2005; 09:14 P.M.

Thanks for all of the new comments. One year down the road, and with a 10D with lots of good glass, I'm still using my 828 for personal and professional work. It's an awesome camera. You can get one for about $800 new these days and I still recommend it highly. Thanks to photo.net for keeping the review up. I'm considering a 717 as a back up to the 828...

Ernest Wong , June 23, 2005; 11:54 A.M.

Actually, unlike the previous comments, I think this review is ok and is reflecting the actual strength and property of the Sony F828. Yes, the purple fringer and noisy ISO performance over ISO 400 are one of the worst defects of this camera. But again, this is a prosumer product. When you spend around US$1000 and ask for a "all-in-one" ready camera, you can't expect everything perfect! Indeed, it is non-sense and crazy for people mentioning Canon 10D, Nikon D70, or even 300D! Man, they are DSLR with total spend level over a double compare to F828 (At least in Hong Kong, 300D plus a lens with comparable performance with 828 will end you up with a double payment!)

Looking at what Nikon, Canon, Konica-Minolta offering at this price range, they also have different problem and weakness, but seldom people mentioned about them. At 8MP, Nikon having problem in night shooting, Canon PowerShoot having problem on focusing, and Konica-Minolta is suck on color accuracy as well. However, they have their own strenths too. I think everyone who pick up a camera should understand her own strength and property. You can't buy an apple and then complaining it doesn't taste like orange! It really depends on what you needed before coming to the final suitable choice. Undoubtfully, here 828 comes with best resolution, sharpness, color accuracy as well as battery performance in here class. It is your camera if you see those feature are the most importants.

One more thing I want to point out which most people had always neglected. Sony's leading electronics and battery technologies should be praised. I can tell you that my F828 works fine at even -30C when I shooting pictures in Hokkaido of Japan, meanwhile all similar priced Canon and Nikon can't work with poor circuitry tolenance design. And my old-good film gear Contax T3 stop working in this suituation too! Notice that when a camera can't operate, it fail to deliver her primary function and doesn't have the right to say any quality at all!

Attached is a photo by F828 taking at -30C envirnoment. F828 is once again out performing her non-functioning rivals!

Image Attachment: Snow Bird 1.jpg

Ron Doughty , November 12, 2005; 01:31 P.M.

The DSC F-828 is a great camera. It may not be the Nikon, Canon or Pentax enthusiasts dream, but it is a camera without equal.

Many camera enthusiasts don't want to carry around a bag full of alternate lenses. When we go to a function, we want a camera that can provide for all the possibilities, not the promise of endless changes in midstream. A phrase like, "Oh wait just a minute while I change my lens." is foreign to us. No way in h--l is the response that fits best from my point of view.

With my F-828 I can go macro, capture portraits, mid-range or scenic photos. I can shoot from down low to up high on alternate shots without so much as a mere hesitation.

While the F-828 does not provide for changeable lenses, it does provide for a wide range of shots with the lens that is provided. It would be unwise to claim that the F-828 is going to provide the same photo quality that a 35mm camera would, in all instances, but it can rival those cameras in many instances. And the versatility of the electronic media and all the options it opens up, places this camera in a class by itself. Why? Because in part at around $700, that's about what this camera is going for now, this camera is an absolute steal.

The general photo is not the only option in this camera's bag of tricks. If you're careful, you can obtain great video in the 640 by 480 format with sound. While this isn't the major attraction that it could be with image stabilization included (it is not), this camera does lend itself to short clips at events when you don't want to carry around two or three cameras to 'catch everything'. Then there's the low light florescent mode. This feature won't win any photography awards, but it does allow the experimenting photographer to come up with some great shots in low light. In a party setting people enjoy seeing themselves in what seems like an alternate reality. And this among other options provides an absolute photographer's heaven for those of us who are not full-blown professionals, and want to delve into a myriad of experamentations with excellent results.

With an 8 megapixil chip, a seven to one zoom, a macro feature, zoom and focus rings on the lens, a TTL view finder, a swiveling back for down low or up high shots, two different memory chip formats, the USB cable connector, the movie mode, the low light features, the hot shoe, the NM-50 battery providing unequaled shooting time per charge and enough manual setting options to make a professional blush, this camera is one amazing piece of equipment.

If this doesn't interest you, and it won't appeal to everyone, that's fine. I urge you to spend more money to buy the body of your choice, then start purchasing the number of lenses it will take for you to duplicate what the F-828 accomplishes, realizing of course that you won't be able to duplicate all the same functions without a second or third camera. As I said, be my guest.

The reason the F-828 didn't do better, is because Sony failed miserably to let the public know what functions it could provide. While other camera manufacturers hawked their products with commercials in a variety of formats, Sony opted not to, or at the very least, much much less. Now Sony has probably come to one of two assessments. This camera isn't what consumers want and we'll discontinue the line, or this camera isn't what the consumer wants, so we'll morph the camera into an also ran product that consumers already have a myriad of options to choose from.

The R1 is one such camera. It won't be but a few months before other manufacturers provide a ten megapixel camera to rival the R1. The R1 will be buried in a sea of alternate choices. What a great marketing environment to place your product in.

What Sony has failed to understand, is that the F-828 was a camera that was unrivaled. To other who have reviewed what the F-818 is and don't care for it, I say go for the Pro camera of your choice. Leave the F-828 to the folks that appreciate it for what it is. And Sony, if you do replace the F-828 with something more advanced, please have the common sense to inform the public of all that your camera can do next time. If you do, I'll have a lot more company.

Sony must follow up the F-828 with an F-939. The F-939 should have between a 12 and 15 megapixil chip. It should have between a 12 and 15 zoom as well. It should provide a wider lens, on the order of the R1. It should provide image stabilization and the ability to snap a full definition photo mid-video. It should provide a 3 or 4" screen. Now that memory media is about to take a big leap with the new 5 megabyte micro-drives, Sony should also up the anti on the movie mode to 1280 x 960. It should also expand on the night photo options. If it did so, man what a camera...

If Sony produced this camera, and marketed it with an adequate advertising campaign, it would capture a very large market share. It would be a one of a kind nitch camera with massive appeal.

Instead I see Sony opting to develop a me-too product that will fail miserably. When it does, I question if Sony will opt to divest itself from still shot photographic cameras that approach the professional level. That would be a disaster after them allowing the best digital camera ever produced, to languish in ambiguity.

None the less, Sony appears headed in that direction. I hate to see it.

Personal Art , April 10, 2006; 05:18 A.M.

I like your report, because it's user report nor review.

Dave Mills , December 09, 2006; 10:23 P.M.

Even WELL after the original review was posted, I still find it useful inasmuch as it's authored by an actual user with 20 years' experience...purists and naysayers notwithstanding. Like the author, I've found the F828 perfect for MY NEEDS after 30 years of shooting...and that's what's most important in any selection.

For my clients' event coverage - some of which require me to be almost invisible - this is the perfect solution:
-no extra lenses to carry,
-silent operation: speed/framing burst, bracket,
-positioning flexibility for overhead and ground shots,
-an incredible Zeiss with 28-200mm equivalent zoom range,
-relatively inexpensive standard 58mm filter thread,
-long battery life,
-all the manual control I'd ever need/want, including a real mechanical zoom.

I can move and shoot easily in crowds or during arts performances. But the camera is just as capable with static product shots. I can't say enough about the F828's flexibility.

Noise/CA issues are inherent with 8MP anyway: easily solved with lower ISO, stopped down lens, Noise Ninja and CS...since everything goes through post anyway.

Other cameras I'd considered came up short in one or more areas important to me: no live/playback histogram, limited zoom range, single instead of dual flash formats, shutter lag, lack of standard front filter threads, motorized instead of manual zoom. The F828 has all the features I want and then some.

Nope. It's not for everybody. But it's perfect for me.

Daniel Gbenga Orimoloye , December 24, 2006; 05:34 A.M.

Thanks Damon for writing the initial report. It was quite useful when I was faced with making a decision on wether to get the Camera or not. More than a year later and I am pleased to say I got the F828. Obviously what you need a camera for is an important consideration. I had simply got it to take shots of my paintings.. but then eventually developed an interest in photography - using it! What I appreciate the most though is comments/reports from people who have actually been using the camera. You can have a look at photos I have taken with it here http://www.job32v8.com/


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