This 3.2 megapixel camera from Sony is long in shape, has plenty of rubber grips and comes with a weight that is comfortable but leaning to heavy. Powered by two Sony Cyber-Shot rechargeable "Stamina" AA batteries and saving your images to a 16Mb MemoryStick this is digital imaging, Sony style.
The back of the camera offers the usual array of buttons along side a comparatively small 1.5” LCD display. Remove the rear finger grip and you'll reveal a USB 2.0 connection, AV-out and DC-in sockets.
For those wishing to rely on the optical viewfinder, you'll be sorely disappointed as not only does it suffer from some heavy parallaxing due to a large lens casing but the camera body's small size goes beyond fashion and becomes a nuisance. If you want to get in close it's a case of crushing your nose against the LCD display.
Rather than allow access via direct controls on the rear of the camera, everything is controlled via an onscreen display and this is a feature with its own pros and cons. On the one side it saves confusing buttons, but on the other, means you are reliant on the LCD and its power draining ability.
That aside, changing settings is very easy and simple and again everything can be adjusted and set on screen from the ISO setting to selecting one of the seven pre-programmed picture modes. The P72 features two new picture settings; a snow scene for images that are predominately white and a sand/sun setting for those beach holiday moments.
The P72 is the bigger brother to the P52 adding another 1x to the overall zoom capability taking the overall total to 3x. Images are saved down onto the P72's 1/1.8” CCD sensor and this provides an effective pixel rate of 3.2 mega pixels. Still images can be saved at a number of different image qualities; 2048x1536 being the largest and 640x480 filling the bottom end of the quota. The camera also comes with the ability to capture moving images, and this utilises the 640x480 image size at 16fps.
Image quality is very good with the camera capable of producing large clear images up to 8” x 10”. The camera coped well in the test shots with the reflection of the subjects in the water. The contrasting colours of the boats on the water with the sails proved no difficulties for the P72.
For the newcomer, there are plenty of cheese ball effects such as solorize, sepia and neg.art to choose from and taking pictures and saving to the card didn't cause any problems either as the camera has the ability to stream the information to the card. This means that while you are saving one shot you are free to take the next and in tests we took plenty of shots without any issues whatsoever.
As a three mega pixel camera, this Sony is very good, offering an easy to use menu system with the ability to take decent large pictures. Yes there are some qualms such as the small LCD display compared to other newer three mega pixel cameras and the even smaller optical viewfinder, but then with images as good as this, these foibles can be put aside. At £280 this fits in at the top end of the three mega pixel price bracket but you do get a charger in the box meaning there are no further running costs.