DPInterface Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T33 Review
Brad Soo - July 13th, 2005 (Updated January 5th, 2006)

The sliding cover found on the T1 is now gone on the Sony Cyber-shot T33, which also adds a few improvements such as a higher resolution Hybrid 2.5 inch LCD. Some great features carried over from the T1 include good battery life, unlimited VGA movies at 30 FPS and of course that high-quality Carl Zeiss lens.

Size and Weight

Let's compare the T33's size and weight to other cameras of its class:

86.0 x 53.0 x 20.7 mm (130 g) - Canon Digital Ixus 50
90.0 x 55.0 x 18.6 mm (130 g) - Fujifilm Finepix Z1
109.0 x 52.0 x 36.0 mm (149 g) - HP Photosmart M517
83.5 x 56.0 x 22.0 mm (115 g) - Konica Minolta Dimage X60
89.9 x 57.5 x 19.7 mm (118 g) - Nikon Coolpix S1
95.0 x 55.5 x 27.5 mm (115 g) - Olympus Stylus Verve S
94.1 x 50.5 x 24.2 mm (127 g) - Panasonic Lumix FX8
91.0 x 60.0 x 21.0 mm (180 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T1
99.4 x 60.9 x 20.7 mm (125 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T33
91.6 x 60.0 x 14.8 mm (115 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T7

The Sony Cyber-shot T33 is larger yet lighter than the Sony T1 which it replaces. The T33 is bigger than most of the cameras above even though the T33 is quite compact. The T33's "twin", the Sony Cyber-shot T3, has the same specifications but is also smaller. The T3 is not available in the US.

Open up the Box

In the box, you'll find the T33 plus:

  • Rechargeable NP-FT1 InfoLithium battery
  • Battery charger
  • 32 MB Memory Stick Duo
  • Memory Stick adapter
  • Wrist strap
  • USB and A/V cables
  • Cyber-shot Station dock
  • Tripod adapter
  • User's manual
  • CD-ROM

The useful Memory Stick adapter lets you use your Duo card with standard-sized Memory Sticks.

Storage and Power

Since the T33 still uses the NP-FT1 InfoLithium battery pack, you can use your old NP-FT1 battery if you're moving over from a T1/T11/T3 (Though there's no reason to change cameras since most of the specifications are the same). The 180-shot battery life is still the same, which is average:

  • 150 shots - Canon Digital Ixus 50
  • 200 shots - Casio Exilim S500
  • 170 shots - Fujifilm FinePix Z1
  • 200 shots - Nikon Coolpix S1
  • 300 shots - Panasonic Lumix FX8

My recommendation would be to get a spare battery pack as you'll never know when you'll need it.

You may want to start off with a 256 MB Memory Stick Duo since 32 MB isn't much. While the T33 doesn't take advantage of high-speed cards, it does when using Memory Stick Pro Duo cards. VGA 30 FPS movies require Pro cards while VGA at 16 FPS does not.

Extras

The only accessory the Sony T33 has is a marine pack (Underwater casing). You are unable to attach conversion lenses or external flashes.

Camera Tour

Of course, the Sony Cyber-shot T33 comes in pink, light blue, white and...

...silver. This, of course, is a silver T33. Aside from color, there are no differences between the four models. Both are thin and stylish, have 5 megapixels as well as 3x optical zoom.

The Sony Cyber-shot T33 has a nice Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens with a focal length of 38 - 114 mm and aperture value of F3.5 - F4.4, great if you like telephoto power but not so good for the indoor wide-angle photographer. The T33 has a shutter speed of 1 to 1/1000th of a second.

The AF-assist beam, also the self-timer light, is located right next to the lens. It's bright and orange, and it helps the T33 focus in low-light. There is a built-in flash on the T33 and it has a range of 0.1 - 1.6 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 1.5 m at telephoto which is not so good. Compare that to the maximum range of 3.5/2.5 m on the smaller Ixus 50.

Let's move on to the back, shall we? The Sony Cyber-shot T33 features a new 2.5 inch Hybrid LCD which is extremely high in resolution, 230,000 pixels. The T33's LCD is clear outdoors but is a little dark in low-light. The Hybrid LCD makes outdoor framing easy and sharp. There is no optical viewfinder on the Sony Cyber-shot T33.

The zoom controller zooms in and out when framing photos plus shows thumbnails or zooms into taken photos. The MENU button, well, brings up the menu. The display button turns the LCD backlight on/off and toggles the amount of info on the LCD. Turning off the LCD backlight reduces battery consumption.

There's the 5 way controller which allows you to select and customize camera settings in the LCD menu. When the menu is closed and you're in any one of the shooting modes, the 4 of the 5 buttons act as shortcut buttons:

  • Up - Flash setting
  • Down - Self-timer
  • Left - Quick review
  • Right - Macro

The mode switch on the right side moves the Sony T33 around playback, shooting and movie mode. On the bottom right, there is a reset button. The Sony Cyber-shot T33 has a fair amount of scene modes (Though it lacks portrait and slow shutter):

  • Twilight
  • Twilight portrait
  • Soft snap
  • Landscape
  • Beach
  • Snow
  • Fireworks
  • High-speed shutter
  • Candle
  • Magnifying glass

In between the 5 way controller and zoom controller is the speaker and some empty space for holding.

On the top of the T33 is a microphone, shutter button and power button. One thing I like about the Sony Cyber-shot T33 is the very precise 0.1x increment zooming.

There is a compartment for the battery and Memory Stick Duo at the bottom. The door is rather flimsy and gives me a sense that it might break off. There is no tripod mount but a dock connector.

Both sides of the T33 have nothing of interest - That is, empty.

Shooting

In burst mode, the T33 took 9 photos (Full resolution) at about, according to my tests, a slow 1 FPS. But on the other hand, the T33 can take 16 (1 megapixel) photos in a row at a tremendously fast pace. The ISO speeds selectable on the Sony T33 are ISO 100, ISO 200 and ISO 400.

The T33 has the average digital zoom and, unlike other cameras (And like most other Sony cameras), the Sony Cyber-shot T33 has Smart Zoom which avoids image quality loss with the catch being it only can benefit from small-sized photos. You get the full potential of Smart Zoom when taking VGA sized stills. The T33 has 4x Smart Zoom. The Sony Cyber-shot T33 has an advanced battery indicator, showing the approximate time (In minutes) till the battery depletes. There's a preset manual focus feature on the T33.

Using the Magnifying Glass function (Found under Scene Modes), you can go as close as 1 cm. The lens is locked at wide-angle and cannot zoom at this time.

Recording

The T33 is capable of taking VGA movies up to 30 FPS (Only 16 FPS with a normal Memory Stick Duo) which is limited only by the Memory Stick Duo capacity. The Sony T33 is unable to utilize its zoom lens while recording a movie. Movies are recorded in the space-saving MPEG format.

Movie and audio quality were both very good.

Performance

The Sony Cyber-shot T33 starts up and is ready to go under 2 seconds. It takes 1.5 seconds to focus in normal conditions and 2 seconds in low-light. The lens goes from wide-angle to telephoto in 2.2 seconds.

Image Quality

Noise levels are low and there is a little bit of chromatic aberration (Color fringing). Photos are rather soft and slightly over-processed. Noise levels are quite high at ISO 200 and ISO 400. The T33 produces a lot of red-eye (Actually, too much) in photos and some above average barrel distortion. I found the T33 lagging a little and having some noise and blurriness when taking indoor shots.

Playback

In playback, the Sony Cyber-shot T33 can playback stills and movies (With sound) as well as perform these functions: Protect image, print marking, direct printing (The T33 is PictBridge enabled), slideshow, resize, trim, rotate and edit movies. You can also zoom up to 5x into still photos taken and take a look around using the 4 arrow buttons. Choose to see no info, basic info or lots of info about your photos. When it comes to histograms, the T33 shows a histogram in both shooting and playback. Excellent compared to some ultra-compact digital cameras which only show a histogram after the photo is taken.

Conclusion

The Sony Cyber-shot T33 is a stylish and thin camera which is fast and has lots of scene modes but has no manual controls. Photo quality on the T33 is overall below average. While the T33 is pocketable and is great for everyday outdoor shots, indoor photo shooting leaves some things to be decided.

What's hot:

  • New stylish design
  • Large and clear 2.5 inch LCD
  • Many of scene modes
  • Excellent movie mode
  • USB 2.0

What's not:

  • No manual controls
  • Weak flash
  • Flimsy battery/Memory Stick slot door
  • Lots of red-eye
  • Soft photos and blown out highlights
  • Barrel distortion
  • Not so good indoor shooting performance

Recommended Accessories

~Extra NP-FT1 battery
~512 MB Memory Stick Pro Duo card
~Camera case

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