Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 Review

The Cyber-shot DSC-H55 is a compact zoom shooter from Sony. I was asked to choose between this not-so-new model and one of their latest compact Cyber-shots, the T99 to bring to our Vietnam trip as our secondary camera. I chose the H55 simply because I need its  zoom more when traveling and the touch-screen feature of the T99 will make it want to stay near power outlets more often.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55

The H series of Sony Cyber-shots are made for high-performance with incredible image quality as oppose to the more stylish and drool-worthy design of their T series. In a nutshell, The H55 is a 14-megapixel compact camera capable of 10x zoom and a fast and quiet G Lens.

Design

Comparing to other Cyber-shots, the DSC-H55 is the macho type. It looks bulky yet still pocketable and feels really solid. The huge 25mm wide angle Sony G lens occupies most of the front with a tiny AF assist lamp beside it.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55

It has a rounded edge which gives it a really nice grip especially for people with big hands. I tried using their T-series and sometimes it’s hard to keep the camera steady because the edge is flat and thin.

My problem here is the placement of flash near the grip. If you’re not aware of its placement, you can partially cover it with your finger when taking shots. So be sure to inform that waiter who you will ask to take your photo ok?

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55

The Cyber-shot H55 is a pretty simple camera to operate with only a few but adequate buttons to work with. On top there’s the On/Off button, the shutter release with the zoom lever and finally the typical mode dial. You can also see the indented portion at the back where your thumb will naturally fall when shooting. Nice touch Sony.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55

At the back you will only see the 3-inch LCD screen and the directional button for quick options and three more dedicated buttons for preview, menu and delete. That’s it for your controls. Not too complicated which we like on our compact shooters.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55

Underside, the tripod mount is weirdly placed on the edge but how often would you use a tripod for it right? There’s the proprietary AV cable port smack at the middle and finally the battery latch which also houses the Memory Stick / SD Card.

Features

I talked about the Sony G Lens on my old review of the Cyber-shot W380. Basically, it’s a pretty fast lens which would allow you take decent shots event in limited light. This would really help the H55 considering its max aperture opening is only at f/3.5.

The Cyber-shot H55 also offers some manual settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) but seriously, the Intelligent Mode is all you need. Ok if you want to be more creative, use the Program Mode (P) and play around with the White Balance for each scenes.

As for scene mode, it only has 11 scenes available but it will pretty much cover everything that you need (Advanced Sports Shooting / Twilight / Twilight Portrait / Landscape / Soft Snap / Snow / Beach / Fireworks / High Sensitivity / Gourmet / Pet). More than that would just confuse you and make you miss the shot that you want. Or you can still stick to Intelligent or P mode.

Just like other Cyber-shots, the H55 also has different timer modes including face detection and smile detection. Both could be prove really helpful for self-shots especially if you’re traveling alone.

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Sweep Panorama is one of the features I’m high about when it comes to Sony cameras. It allows you to take a panoramic shot on the fly without having to download and editing it on your PC. Really nice since you can immediately review your shot in case you have to retake the whole thing. I have to inform you though not to expect too much from your pano shots in terms of quality.

Close up shot taken with the Sony H55

Taking macro shots is very decent with the H55. It provides good depth of field even at the widest range. Zoom it up and you’ll get some good blurring action in the background.

Battery life is very good on the DSC-H55. Granted that we didn’t use it as our primary camera, we didn’t have to charge it after taking close to 200 shots and there are still some more juice left when we got back.

Sample photos

Ok enough talking, here are some sample shots taken with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55.

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Conclusion

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 is a nice choice for a compact high-zoom shooter. The 10x zoom will really come in handy especially when traveling. The Sweep Panorama is still a very nice-to-have feature for me as well as the self-timer because my wife and I usually travel alone. It will also be a decent camera if you like taking product shots for your blog.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55

One drawback I find in this camera is the 230k colors on its display LCD. It just won’t show the sharpness of your shots. You really won’t know how beautiful or bad your shots are unless your view them on your PC or on the TV. If I only knew some of my indoor shots would be grainy then I would’ve used the manual mode to limit my ISO.

Anyway, for a nice all around, no-nonsense digital camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 would make a decent choice. It may lack some fancy shooting effects found on other digital cameras like miniaturize, fisheye and color treatments but it will surely give you good quality photos most of the time.

Sony pegs this at Php16,990 which is a bit pricey for my taste but I’m sure there are already cheaper deals out there at this time considering the popularity of their T-series.

Sony Cyber-shot H55 Specs:

  • 14.1 Megapixel CCD
  • F3.5-5.5, 10X optical zoom Sony G lens, equivalent to 25 – 250 mm
  • Optical image stabilization, with “active mode” for situations with lots of camera shake
  • 3-inch LCD with 230,400 pixels
  • Limited manual controls, plus iAuto mode
  • Sweep panorama mode (not quite as sophisticated as the one on the HX5V)
  • Face, smile, and blink detection, with self-portrait timer
  • Records movies at 1280 x 720 (30 fps) using MPEG-4 codec
  • 45MB onboard memory + MS Duo / SD / SDHC card slot
  • Uses NP-BG1/FG1 li-ion batteries, 310 shots per charge
  • Comes in silver and black
  • SRP: Php16,990
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