Right from the early days of digital cameras, Sony has been a faithful patron of Carl Zeiss lens for the optics of nearly all its digital cameras produced to date. However, there were a few exceptions and one most notable model was the Cybershot DSC-H1. This was Sony's first prosumer camera in H-series to come equipped with a 12x optical zoom, "Super SteadyShot" optical image stabilization and lens not from the Carl Zeiss but from within the doors of Sony instead.
Now, if you liked the H1 for its mega zoom, handling, battery life and brilliant image quality, there is a high chance you will fancy the all-new H2 just as much - considering that the new model boasts a higher megapixel count and sensitivity for more details and better imaging results in low-light conditions. But perhaps the most exciting highlight in its technical sheet is the return of Carl Zeiss lens, which should be welcomed by loyal followers of Sony digital cameras.
Although the new 6.0-megapixel H2 shares the same ergonomic profile as the H1, the former feels more comfortable and assuring to wield than its predecessor. This is due largely to a lighter body that has been slimmed down to a very manageable 490g. However, even with the weight reduction, the H2 still packs the same potent 12x optical zoom as the H1 for zooming in on distant objects. Coupled with the Sony "Super SteadyShot" optical image stabilization, there will be less concern of unwanted blurring from zooming with an unsteady pair of hands.
Because of the space needed to accommodate the optics for its powerful zoom, the Sony Cybershot H2 is clearly not as portable or discreet as your average digital compact camera.
Still, if you are out and about with a bag, the advanced imaging features and versatility of the H2 should immediately redeem itself for its substantial size. Furthermore, with a high ISO 1000 sensor sensitivity that surpasses those offered by digital compacts, the H2 would have an added advantage of being able to capture clearer pictures in low lighting conditions. Knowing the use of high ISO levels will typically produce noisy images; Sony has incorporated 'Clear RAW' noise reduction technology into the H2 to keep image noise under check.
The Cybershot DSC-H2 is highly recommended for travelers who are more particular about image quality and functionality over outright portability. Though lightweight, the H2 is by no means a pushover where camera functions and image performance are concerned. Test pictures attested the H2 as a competent prosumer camera capable of taking sharp pictures with accurate color reproduction.
Given that full adjustment of aperture and shutter speeds is possible with the H2, budding photographers who are looking to explore their creativity will not be disappointed as well. Amateurs are not left out either, as there are more than enough preset modes to go around and these can be further complemented by Sony's "Super SteadyShot" for crystal clear pictures.
While its optical zoom capability is undeniably powerful for its class, the H2 is also right at home in handling macro shots. Our tests revealed a short distance of just 1cm was all it needed for macro focusing. That being said, the US$400 Cybershot DSC-H2 is a fine camera that is ideal for most occasions, but for those who want more pixels to capture more details, there's always the higher end 7.20-megapixel Cybershot DSC-H5 that is due to retail at US$500 this coming May.