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Sony DSC-P8

3-megapixel digital camera

Item # 158DSCP8

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Our take on the Sony DSC-P8

When you hold the tough little DSC-P8 in your hand, you'll know right away why folks love it. A sleek, sturdy metal build gives this camera a reassuringly solid feel despite its small size (a mere 4-5/16" long and weighing in at only 7 ounces). It's ready to go along on just about any ride!

When you hold the tough little DSC-P8 in your hand, you'll know right away why folks love it. A sleek, sturdy metal build gives this camera a reassuringly solid feel despite its small size (a mere 4-5/16" long and weighing in at only 7 ounces). It's ready to go along on just about any ride!

Good thing, too, because with its fantastic photo-snapping power, you're going to want to take it everywhere you go! This compact cam is packing a 3.2-megapixel CCD, for shots with a crystal-clear top resolution of 2048 x 1536. Also debuting on the durable 'P8 is Continuous AF, for in-focus shots of fast-moving subjects. Whether you're trying to capture high-powered race cars or high-energy toddlers, you'll appreciate this very handy feature. Sony's cool Smart Zoom uses all available pixels for zeroing in on a target, to bring you remarkably detailed, interpolation-free digital zooming (with photos snapped at 640 x 480 resolution). Another digital delight: MPEG Movie VX lets you record movie clips at 640 x 480 resolution to the included Memory Stick® (that's twice as sharp as the 320 x 240 resolution seen in older cameras).

Once you've snapped your shots, the camera saves your photos to Memory Stick. You just use the USB cable to transfer digital pics to a USB-capable PC for editing or e-mailing. And when it comes to printing photos, Exif Print 2.2-capability means your pics are clean and lifelike when printed on an Exif-compatible photo printer (see "Accessories").


  • 3.2-megapixel effective recording
  • 1-1/2" color LCD
  • optical viewfinder
  • 3X optical zoom (3.2X digital/9.6X total zoom with 640 x 480 photos only)
  • JPEG options: 2048 x 1536; 1632 x 1224; 1280 x 960; 640 x 480
  • MPEG Movie VX with audio
  • autofocus
  • focus presets
  • variable ISO (sensitivity)
  • auto exposure modes
  • exposure settings
  • white balance settings
  • built-in flash
  • compatible with Memory Stick and Memory Stick PRO®
  • Exif Print 2.2
  • USB interface (1.1)
  • A/V output
  • 4-5/16"W x 2-3/16"H x 1-1/2"D
  • weight: 7.0 oz. with battery and media
  • warranty: 1 year parts, 90 days labor
Supplied Accessories:
  • 16MB Memory Stick
  • rechargeable InfoLithium battery
  • AC adapter/charger
  • A/V and USB cables
  • software CD-ROM (PC and Mac)

What's in the Box:

  • Digital still camera
  • NP-FC11 Lithium-ion battery pack (3.6V/2.8Wh)
  • 16MB Memory Stick in a soft plastic case
  • AC-LS5 AC adapter with attached 5.5' cord
  • 6.5' AC power cord
  • 58" USB cable with in-line noise filter (cable has a male Type A USB connector on one end and a male mini-USB--version 2.0--connector on the other end)
  • 53" A/V cable with in-line noise filter (cable has a right-angle male mini-plug on one end and a mono RCA audio and composite video connector on the other end)
  • Wrist strap
  • ImageMixer Ver.1.5 for Sony CD-ROM software with instructions sheet
  • 3 Self-adhesive Memory Stick labels
  • Operating Instructions
  • Online registration card
  • Warranty sheet
  • Quick Start Guide for connection to your computer
  • "For Windows 98/98SE/2000 Professional/Me Users" sheet
  • Important Safeguards
  • Cybershot Accessories catalog

Hands-on research

Features and Specs

LCD Screen Size 1.5"
Adjustable-angle LCD ---
Wi-Fi No
Touchscreen ---
Waterproof ---
GPS-enabled ---
Lens 35mm Equivalent 39-117mm
Optical Zoom 3x
Digital Zoom 3.2x
Filter Diameter N/A
Manual Focusing 5 presets
Manual Exposure Yes
Built-in Flash Yes
HDMI Output ---
Internal Memory None
Memory Media Memory Stick
Sensor Size 6.67mm (1/2.7")
Megapixels 3.21e+006
Image Stabilization None
Highest Resolution 2048 x 1536
4K Video No
Video Resolution ---
Width (inches) 4-5/16
Height (inches) 2-3/16
Depth (inches) 1-1/2
Weight With Battery (ounces) 7
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 90 Days

Product Research

Battery Information
Supplied Software


Memory Stick Compatibility: This camera is compatible with Memory Stick, MagicGate Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO and Memory Stick Duo recording media. All four types of Memory Stick can be used to record still pictures and moving images with audio. Although this unit is compatible with MagicGate Memory Stick and Memory Stick PRO media, it cannot be used to record or play back music protected by copyright signals. A Memory Stick Duo adapter is required to use Memory Stick Duo media with this camcorder. A 16MB Memory Stick is included with the camera.

Image Recording Format: The camera records still images in JPEG and GIF (for Clip Motion). Moving images with audio (monaural) are recorded in MPEG1. The audio for still images is also recorded in MPEG1.

Imaging Device: For optimal image quality, the camera uses a 1/2.7" 3.2 Mega-Pixel Super HAD color CCD imaging device with approximately 3.34 million gross pixels and 3.21 million effective pixels.

Analog-To-Digital Conversion: This camera uses a 14-Bit Digital Extended Processor (DXP) which captures the range between highlight and shadow with up to 16,384 values, for extended dynamic contrast and detail.

Viewfinder and LCD Screen:  The DSC-P8 has a true zoom optical viewfinder for accurate framing at eye level, great for added stability and for following fast moving objects. The camera also has a 1.5" color LCD screen with 123,200 pixels and an anti-glare coating. The LCD screen allows you to view an image before taking a picture and replay images that have been stored in memory. For best viewing, you can adjust the brightness of the LCD monitor, and increase the amount of backlight in the monitor when using the camera outdoors. To increase battery life, you can turn the LCD screen off.

Lens: The lens has a 3x optical zoom and a focal length of 6mm to 18mm, which is equivalent to 39mm to 117mm in 35mm photography.

Smart Zoom: The camera features a "Smart" zoom lens, which intelligently uses the full CCD to let you zoom into the portion of interest by cropping the image size, thus avoiding the image degradation found in most digital zooms. The maximum zoom scale depends upon the image size. When the image is VGA size (640 x 480), the digital zoom is 3.2x, and coupled with the optical zoom gives you a total zoom of 9.6x. For larger images, the digital zoom (and total zoom) is less. When the image is 3.1M (2048 x 1536) or 2.8M (3:2), the smart zoom does not work.

Image Size/Compression: When recording digital still images, the DSC-P8 allows you to choose from five image sizes and two compression (image quality) settings--Fine and Standard. The larger the image and the higher the image quality you choose, the better the image will be, but it also takes a larger amount of data to preserve the image. The image sizes include:

Image SizeResolution
3.1M2048 x 1536
2.8M (3:2)*2048 (3:2)*
2.0M1632 x 1224
1.2M1280 x 960
VGA640 x 480
Movies (VGA)640
Movies (Mail)160

*This option records images in a horizontal to vertical proportion of 3:2 to match the size of the print paper used.

Auto Focus Method: There are two auto focus functions: AF Range Finder Frame, which sets the focus position according to the subject position and size, and AF Mode, which sets the focus operation according to the AF response and the battery consumption:

  • AF Range Finder Frame: 
    • Multipoint AF: The camera calculates the distance in three areas to the left and right and in the center of the image, letting you shoot using the auto focus function without worrying about the image composition. This is useful for focusing on a subject when it is not in the center of the frame.
    • Center AF: This is useful for focusing on a subject near the center of the frame.
  • AF Mode: 
    • Single AF: This mode allows accurate focusing over a wide range from near to distant objects, and is useful for shooting stationary subjects.
    • Monitoring AF: This shortens the time needed for focusing. The camera adjusts the focus before the shutter button is pressed and held halfway down, letting you compose images with the focus already adjusted.
    • Continuous AF: The camera adjusts the focus before the shutter button is pressed and held halfway down, and then continues to adjust the focus even after AF lock is completed.

AF Illuminator: The AF (auto focus) Illuminator briefly provides fill light to focus more easily on a subject in dark surroundings. Optimal focusing distance with the AF Illuminator is up to approximately 11 feet 5-3/16 inches (wide) and up to 8 feet 2-7/16 inches (tele).

Focus Presets: In addition to auto focus, you can pre-set the focal distance by choosing one of the following fixed focus settings:  0.5 m, 1.0 m, 3.0 m, 7.0 m, or infinity.

AE/AF Lock: If you have difficulty focusing on an off-center subject, you can set and lock the focus and exposure on the subject by pressing the shutter button halfway with the subject in the AF rangefinder, then recompose the shot and press the shutter button fully to take the picture.

Macro Focus: For close-ups of small objects such as flowers and insects, this camera has macro focus capability. With the zoom set all the way to wide, the camera can focus on objects up to 4" from the lens. With the zoom set all the way to telephoto, the camera can focus on objects up to 19-3/4" from the lens.

Auto Power-Off: If you do not operate the camera for approximately 3 minutes (in the Power Save OFF mode) or 90 seconds (in the Power Save ON mode) during recording or playback, it will turn off automatically to conserve battery power. 

Note: The Auto Power-Off function will not operate when playing back moving images, playing back a slide show, or when a connector is plugged into the USB or Video Out jack.

Date and Time: Each time you take a picture, the camera records the date and time on the still image. The date and time do not appear on the LCD screen or in the viewfinder while you are shooting. Instead, the date and time appear when you replay the stored image. This feature can be turned off.

Self-Timer: When you use the self-timer function, the camera will take a picture 10 seconds after you press the shutter button.

Beep Tone: The camera makes a beep when a function is selected. The beep can be disabled.

Shooting Modes: The camera features the following shooting modes:

  • Fireworks: fireworks are recorded in all their splendor by setting the focus distance to infinity
  • High-speed Shutter: use this mode to shoot moving subjects outdoors or in other bright places
  • Beach: this mode is for shooting at seaside or the lakeside
  • Snow: this mode brings out colors and brightens subjects against a snowscape
  • Landscape: this mode is used for shooting landscapes at a distance
  • Twilight Portrait: this mode is used for shooting people in the foreground at night
  • Twilight: this mode is used for shooting a distant subject at night
  • Auto: the camera automatically adjusts the focus, exposure and white balance

Picture Effects: When desired, you can select one of the following picture effects:

  • Solarize: the light contrast is clearer and the picture looks like an illustration
  • B&W: the picture is black and white
  • Sepia: the picture is sepia-toned like an old photograph
  • Negative Art: the color and brightness of the picture are reversed as in a negative

Still Images With Audio: The Voice Mode allows you to record a still image with an audio file. In this mode, if you press and release the shutter button, it will record 5 seconds of audio. If you press and hold the shutter button, it will record audio up to 40 seconds, or until the button is released.

Multi Burst Mode: When shooting in the Multi-Burst mode, pressing the shutter once records 16 frames in a row. You can set the interval between frames at 1/7.5 second, 1/15 second, 1/30th second in NTSC or 1/6.3 second, 1/12.5 second and 1/25 second in PAL. All 16 frames will be recorded as one 1.2M image (1280 x 960). When you play back images recorded in Multi Burst mode with this camera, the 16 frames will be played back in order, with a fixed interval between them. When the images are played back on a computer or a camera without Multi Burst, the 16 frames will all be displayed at the same time as part of one image.

Burst 2 Mode: You can shoot two images in succession while pressing the shutter button only once.

Clip Motion: You can shoot a series of small images in the GIF format to use on a home page or to attach to an e-mail. Clip Motion is an animation function that plays back still images in succession. Clip Motion images are played back at approximately 0.5 second intervals. You can select from one of the following modes: Normal (160x120) or Mobile (120x108). In Normal mode, up to 10 frames can be recorded. In Mobile mode, you can record two frames.

MPEG Movie VX: Besides recording still images, you can also record moving images with sound. Moving images are recorded in MPEG format with monaural audio. Two image sizes are available, 640 x 480 (VGA) and 160 x 112 (Mail). You can also record movies in macro mode for excellent closeups. If you want to be in the movie, you can use the camera's self-timer feature. 

Note: The unit's flash will not operate in movie mode.

E-Mail Mode: In E-Mail mode, the camera records a small size image (320x240) at the same time as a still image. Small size images are convenient for e-mail transmission.

Flash Modes: The flash can be set to Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Synchro, or No Flash. In Auto mode, the flash automatically strobes when the surroundings are dark. When the flash is set to Forced Flash, it strobes with every shot. In Slow Synchro, the flash is used regardless of the amount of ambient light, but the shutter speed is slower under dark conditions, allowing you to clearly shoot a background that is out of the flash-lit area. In addition, this camera has a "red-eye reduction" setting, which causes the flash to pre-strobe before shooting to reduce the red-eye phenomenon. In the Auto mode, when you shoot against a light source, the camera automatically flashes (daylight synchro), even when there is sufficient light around the subject.

Flash Range: The recommended distance using the flash is 19-3/4 inches to 11 feet 5-3/16 inches (wide) and 19-3/4 inches to 8 feet 2-7/16 inches (telephoto).

Flash Intensity: When Normal flash is too much or not enough, you can set the flash to High or Low to increase/decrease the intensity.

ISO Speed: The ISO speed can be set to Auto, 100, 200, or 400. When shooting under dark conditions or shooting a fast-moving subject, you should use a high number setting. When recording high-quality images, use a low number setting.

Metering Modes: You can select Multi-Pattern or Spot Metering. When multi-pattern metering is used, the image is divided into multiple regions and metering is performed in each region. The camera judges the subject position and background brightness, and determines a well-balanced exposure. Spot metering lets you adjust the exposure to the subject, even when the subject is a backlit or when there is strong contrast between the subject and the background.

White Balance: When the white balance is set to auto, the white balance is set automatically in response to the condition of the subject, and the overall color balance is adjusted. When shooting under special lighting conditions, you can select the settings manually. In addition to Auto, the white balance can be set to Incandescent, Fluorescent, Daylight, and Cloudy.

Exposure Adjustment: Besides auto exposure, you can manually adjust the exposure from +2.0EV to -2.0EV in steps of 1/3EV.

Approximate Recording Capacity Of The 16MB Memory Stick (Supplied):

Image Size


Standard Quality

Fine Quality
3.1M (2048x1536)18 images10 images

2.8M (3:2) [2048 (3:2)]

18 images10 images
2.0M (1632 x 1224)30 images16 images

1.2M (1280 x 960)

46 images 24 images 

VGA (640x480)

243 images 97 images 


46 images24 images
Movie: 640 (VGA)42 seconds

Movie: 160 (Mail)  

673 seconds

Normal Clip Motion
(10 frames)

88 images

Mobile Clip Motion
(2 frames) 

486 images 

Viewing Images: Still and moving images can be played back on the camera's color LCD screen, or the images may be transferred to a computer, where they can be displayed or manipulated with the use of compatible software. In addition, the images can be played back on a television (NTSC or PAL), if the television has an RCA composite video input.

Index Mode: In addition to viewing images one-by-one in full screen, you can view multiple images at once in the index mode. This feature lets you to display three or nine images at a time, allowing you to easily find the image you want. When the triple image is displayed, various image information items are also displayed.

Slide Show: The Slide Show function lets you play back images one after the other. The interval between the pictures can be adjusted, allowing you to choose 3, 5, 10, and 30 seconds or 1 minute. You can select Folder play (all images in the selected folder) or All play (all images on the Memory Stick). When repeat is selected, the images are replayed in a continuous loop.

Protecting Images: In order to avoid accidentally deleting an image, it can be protected.

Playback Zoom: You can enlarge a recorded still image up to five times the size of the original image. You can also record the enlarged item as a new file. To select the area to be enlarged, you can move the enlargement "frame" up/down/left/right with the arrow buttons, and adjust the zoom with the W/T button. You cannot enlarge movies or images recorded in clip motion or multi-burst modes.

Rotate: During playback mode, you can rotate images clockwise or counterclockwise.

Resizing Images: After an image is captured (still images only), you can resize the picture and save it as a new file. Images can be resized to 3.1M, 2.0M, 1.2M and VGA. The original image is retained even after resizing. You cannot resize a picture to a 3:2-sized image, and if you resize a 3:2-sized image, black bands will appear at the top and bottom of the image.

Viewing Movies: Movies shot in 640 (VGA) are displayed on the full screen. Movies shot in 160 (Mail) are displayed in a size smaller than the full screen.

Editing Movies: You can cut movies or delete unnecessary portions of movies.

Print Mark: You can place a print mark on still images recorded with this camera. This mark is convenient when you have images printed at a shop that conforms to the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) standard.

Exif Print (Exif 2.2): The DSC-P8 conforms to "Exif Print", a worldwide standard. Vital camera settings (such as: exposure mode, white balance, exposure time) and scene data are recorded to the image file when it is captured. Printers compatible with "Exif Print" are able to use this information to produce high quality photographs, exactly the way they were intended at the time of capture. This intelligent communication process also allows the printer to correct for poor lighting or mistakes, resulting in photos that can be even better than the originals.

PRINT Image Matching II: PRINT Image Matching II (P.I.M. II), a technology developed--and recently updated--by Seiko Epson Corporation, ensures that P.I.M. II-enabled digital cameras and printers work together perfectly to produce the best possible prints. After an image is captured, the camera automatically tags the picture with 14 optimal image settings and includes it as part of the Exif Print header in the JPEG file. A P.I.M. II-enabled photo printer reads and utilizes the information in order to make the most accurate print. 

Note: Cameras with P.I.M. II are completely backward-compatible with printers with the original P.I.M. technology.

Battery Information

Battery Information: The DSC-P8 comes with the NP-FC11 lithium-ion rechargeable battery. This battery takes approximately 2.5 hours to fully charge. 

Battery Performance: Under normal operating conditions the battery has the following capacity:

FunctionImage SizeLCD ScreenNumber of ImagesBattery Life (min)
Record Still ImagesAll SizesOnApprox. 200Approx. 100
OffApprox. 250Approx. 125
Playback Still ImagesAll SizesOnApprox. 3850Approx. 190
Record Movies (Continuous)160 (Mail)OnN/AApprox. 100
OffN/AApprox. 145

Supplied Software

Software: The included software allows you to transfer images from a Memory Stick to a computer hard drive and view and store transferred images on a computer. The supplied CD-ROM includes:

  • Pixela Image Mixer ver.1.5 for Sony
  • Sony USB driver

Viewing or Transferring Images to a Computer: By using the supplied USB cable, you can transfer the still digital images and MPEG movie clips stored on a Memory Stick to a computer. The computer must have these minimum system requirements:

Operating SystemWindows 98
Windows 98 Second Edition
Windows Millennium Edition
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows XP Home Edition/Professional pre-installed (IBM PC/AT compatible)
Mac OS 8.5.1 or later
(not compatible with Mac OS X)
Mac OS 8.6 or later is required for creating Video CDs
CPUIntel MMX Pentium 200 MHz or faster
Pentium III 500 MHz or faster for capturing a movie via USB or IEEE1394 (Pentium III 800 MHz is recommended)
iMac, eMac, iBook, PowerBook, and PowerMac Series (G3 233 MHz or faster)
SoftwareDirectX 8.0a or laterN/A
Sound16-bit stereo sound card with stereo speakersN/A
Memory64 MB or more (128 MB is recommended)96 MB or more (128 MB or more is recommended)
Hard DiskApprox. 250 MB for program, 1 GB or more of free space recommended for work space.Approx. 200 MB for program, 1 GB or more of free space recommended for work space.
Display/GraphicsDisplay: 4 MB or more of VRAM, minimum of 800 x 600 at 16-bit hi-color (65,000 colors)
DirectDraw driver compatible
ImageMixer does not run properly in less than 800 x 600 or 256 colors.
Graphics: Minimum of 800 x 600
32,000 colors or more
ImageMixer does not run properly in less than 800 x 600 or 256 colors.
OthersDirectX compatible. DirectX must be installed. A separate environment for operating the recording device is required in order to create Video CDs.An environment running QuickTime 4 or later is required.
Video input through USB or IEEE1394 is not supported with Macintosh systems.
PTP Manager and Image Transfer is not compatible with Macintosh systems.

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