What's so good about this little digital camera? Well, happens that it's as reliable as an anvil. Even so, it's been necessary to take it apart twice, once after I accidentally dropped it into a water tank to dry its innards part by part and, more recently after the hardest of many hits it took on a hard floor to snap back the diaphragm cage in its correct place. That was due to accidental abuse, not the camera's fault.
If you want to see the less often seen parts of this camera and some picture samples, read on...
It still takes more than reasonably good pictures for its characteristics and after so much abuse it only developed an small creak in its left side. I bought this camera about 6 years ago and the photo counter reads a relatively low 5504. This is the camera that introduced me to digital photography. It has very few photographic controls, but if necessary it is possible to set the camera to a certain speed and aperture just by repeatedly locking the exposure while pointing at different light levels. About a month ago I bought a Panasonic FZ35 which I didn't use too much and I'm still learning to operate it. It doesn't yet feel to me as comfy as the little Sony.
Back of the camera:
The mode switch was accidentally molten with a soldering iron. Even tough it never failed to me, I've heard of other P43s that went wrong and their LCD only shows a white area or color lines. The zoom rocker activates the camera 3X digital only zoom.
The LCD screen is ridiculously tiny for current standards, but it displays a good bit of information.
Front of the camera:
The lens is wide enough at 5mm and with its f/2.8 is bright enough, but there is no optical zoom. That is often considered a disadvantage, but I know very well that optical zooms get broken very easily, specially due to contamination and hits. I believe that that is one of the reasons that this camera is so reliable. As can be seen in the photo, just above the lens is the optical viewfinder, which is reasonably accurate but when you digitally zoom the view trough it doesn't change making it terribly inaccurate, essentially useless.
Bottom of the camera:
Interestingly, the tripod mount thread is made of metal. Almost all other cameras that I've seen this small and simple sport a plastic thread only.
Battery and memory card:
Memory stick only. Why Sony?? why in heck did you invent that silly format? I have a lot of SD cards that are over 1GB, but I can't use those in this camera, haven't checked lately, but memory sticks were too expensive in comparison. I've avoided a buying a new Sony camera just due to that reason. I've learned that most recent Sony cameras come with SD and MS slots so I may reconsider Sony in the future.
The AA batteries last long enough, I didn't count how many photos I can take with a charge but in more than 5 years of ownership I only ran out of charge a couple of times. The battery and card cover seems well designed.
This is the only thing that sets the DSC-P43 apart from the slightly lesser DSC-P41. The later doesn't include the yellow A/V connector. When connected via the USB cable, Windows (XP and later) automatically recognize the camera and it appears as a drive. For Windows 95/98/ME, a driver is needed, which is included in the CD. The rest of the software in the CD is utterly forgettable, you will be a happier person if you never install it.
Inside the camera:
It looks like it has too many circuit boards and too many electronical components for a camera so limited in its capabilities.
The lens/CCD assembly is show below:
The motorized lens cover mechanism:
The flash circuit and battery holder assembly:
What kind of shot quality can you expect to get with this camera? To give you a rough idea, I've posted a few downsized samples below, each one with a 100% crop. For more examples visit the Flicker's Sony DSC-P43 gallery.
This camera is a 4.1 effective megapixel but all of the samples shown here were taken with the camera at its 1 Megapixel setting, just because I use it at that setting 99% of the time.
By the way, I'm not claiming to have good taste or any photographic skills...
Some fireworks, taken in night photography mode, no flash, camera held against a wall:
The awesome Nissan GTR, couldn't get a clear shot as people relentlessly ogled it. I wonder if the Fuji HS10 could have wiped all the people off the photo. Handheld, manual WB:
The Nissan 350Z. Handheld manual WB:
100% crop, this camera does not have the SteadyShot feature:
A flash shot. I didn't know if that was a young bull or an old cow. Handheld with flash:
I don't remember if the light was as orangeish as it looks in the photo. Handheld, manual WB:
100% crop. Definitely not for pixel peepers:
A brighter indoor place. Handheld, manual WB:
100% crop. That's the Porsche in that ride:
Laugh if you want, this is a “bokeh” test. Of course, with this camera you can only get to blur the background that much by focusing to the shortest distance that the camera allows, about 10 cm or 4 inches. Low enough light and a really steady hand are also needed. There is no macro mode in this camera. Handheld, manual WB:
An advantage of having such small diameter lens, as is also the case of cell phone cameras, is that you can use a lens or as in this case, a pocket microscope to photograph small stuff. I don't know if it is possible to do this with my FZ35, and I'm not trying as it looks like the lens could get damaged. Handheld, manual WB:
Reviews for this camera
DigitalCameraInfo.com: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P41 Digital Camera Review
Cameras.co.uk: Sony DSC P43 Review
This is a nice camera, still very useful and working well. After so much beating and time, seems that the quality of the images didn't get degraded. I'm not advising you to buy one, as it's so old, but if you find one that looks in good condition might make sense if cheap enough.