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Back in October last year I reviewed the Cyber-shot T700, an expensive but stylish and well-specified 10.1MP camera and one of the top models in Sony's prestige ultra-compact T-series. Today I'm taking a look at another T-series camera, the Cyber-shot T500. Like the T700 it is loaded with advanced features, ultra-slim and very expensive.
The T500's basic specification is impressive. It has the same 10.1-megapixel 1/2.3-in Super HAD CCD sensor as the T700, a high quality 5x optical zoom Carl Zeiss lens equivalent to 33-165mm, and a big 3.5-inch widescreen touch-sensitive monitor. It has a strong all-aluminium body with a clever two-part slide-down front cover, and is available in silver, red or the gloss black shown here. At just 21.4mm thick it is one of the slimmest cameras on the market, and weighing 180g including card and battery it's small and light enough to slip unobtrusively into your pocket.
The body design is attractive without being too flashy. The details on the front panel are arranged so that the camera looks good when hanging vertically from its wrist strap, and the overall shape is easy to hold and operate. There is a small but useful rubberised finger grip on the front, while the strap lug on the back doubles as a thumb grip. Since it is operated almost entirely via the touch-screen interface the T500 has very few external controls, so the whole of the back of the camera is taken up with the large LCD monitor.
The camera is well designed and generally pleasant to use, but there is one annoying feature. The switch to select between still and video shooting is located on the back of the shutter button bezel, and while this does make it very easy to switch from one mode to the other, it is also prone to being switched accidentally while the camera is in your pocket. There were a number of times while testing the camera that I went to take a picture only to find that I was shooting video instead.