Another questionable design decision is the relatively puny battery, providing just 210 shots on a full charge. It is the first camera that I have used in over a year that actually ran out of power within a normal day’s testing. At least Sony’s InfoLithium battery does tell you exactly how many minutes of shooting you have left, but I’d rather have a battery that can last a bit longer.
The great pity is that concealed beneath this needlessly quirky design is actually a pretty nice camera. Its performance is excellent, with a 1.5sec start-up time, fast and accurate focusing and exposure, and very good low light performance. The excellent lens, 5.1 megapixel sensor and Sony’s acclaimed Real Imaging processor provide superb picture quality, and image noise control is excellent at all but the highest ISO setting. The movie mode is also satisfactory, producing good artefact-free shots with good colour reproduction and a nice smooth frame rate, although the sound quality isn’t as good as I’d hoped. The M2 has two microphones for stereo sound, but they are both located on the back of the LCD screen, less than an inch apart and both to the left of the lens, so there is no noticeable stereo effect.
If all the components of the M2 could be put into a better designed body with a more accessible control system, it really could be one of the best hybrid cameras on the market, but as it stands it is a frustrating and over-priced gimmick that ultimately fails at its stated purpose.
For half the price you can get a camera that takes pictures and shoots video just as well, but is far easier to handle. The M2 may look cool and funky, and there’s no denying that it can take good pictures, but its shockingly poor handling, badly designed and over-complicated controls and limited battery life, combined with an inflated price tag, make this a big white elephant.