• Price: 299

  • Company: Sony

  • Pros: Low-light capability, responsive handling and great picture quality are fast becoming trademark qualities of the H-series.

  • Cons: Smaller screen than previous H1 is disappointing, and 30fps movies require PRO Duo cards, otherwise clips reveal

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

With the introduction of the five-megapixel H1 back in February 2005, Sony was a late entrant to the booming high-zoom digital camera market. Nevertheless, the original H1 was well received and arguably the best of the crop.

Canon has recently upgraded its equivalent, with the introduction of the PowerShot S3 IS. This model added an extra megapixel, a larger screen, and increased sensitivity. The Cyber-shot DSC-H2 is Sony’s reply.

The H2 is a better-looking camera compared to the H1, but it’s underneath the silver polycarbonate shell that the refinements are more significant. The H2 has seen an increase in sensor resolution over its predecessor – at the heart of the camera is a 6mp CCD coupled to a 12x optical zoom. As with other high-end Cyber-shots, the H2 boasts a Carl Zeiss zoom lens.

 border=0 /><p>Print-ready JPEG’s from the default settings are impressive, but the H2 has plenty of user control when you need it. 
</p></div>
</p>
<p>
Although the power of the zoom has not been increased, the 36-432mm f/2.8-3.7 lens features Sony’s handy and effective Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization technology, derived from the company’s camcorder range. Sony’s Double Anti Blur technology means increased sensor sensitivity up to an impressive ISO1000 now supplements image stabilization. 
</p>
<p>
More important, though, is the inclusion of Sony’s new noise reduction algorithm, confusingly termed Clear RAW NR. At the maximum sensitivity, colour saturation is poor and images are speckled. You might not want to print enlargements exactly, but the H2’s output is usable compared to some of its rivals. 
</p>
<p>
It’s at the lower sensitivities such as ISO200 and 400, where the real benefits can be seen. Noise levels are lower than that from the H1, making the new model much more capable in low ambient light. 
</p>
<p>
<div class=floatedimage><img src=
Characters remaining: 335