Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The late, lamented Sony DSC U60

This is my favourite camera for taking rough water photos. Hans has also recognized its functionality in this situation.

Its unusual shape gives it superb ergonomics for one handed operation. The thumb naturally falls on the on/off button and the index finger on the shutter release. Unlike most small digital cameras, it has a very rapid startup time and little shutter delay. It has no optical viewfinder but the small LCD screen is very bright. The fixed lens is equivalent to a 20mm wide angle on a 35mm film camera. It has an aperture of f2.8 which gives reasonable performance in lower light. There is a raised plastic ridge round the lens to help keep greasy finger tips off the glass cover. It has a decent O ring seal on a clamp base which closes with a lever mechanism for tightness then has two locks. The two AAA batteries are enough for over 200 shots and are contained in the middle of the plastic body where they are well insulated from the cold.

They are not a common sight on the water; the sensor only has 2 mega pixels and most kayakers have bought the Pentax Optio, seduced by its greater number of pixels. The result is that unfortunately the Sony U60, like Betamax before it, is now no more. If only photographic success could be guaranteed by pixels, perhaps the Optio's commercial success would be a good thing.

Please, Mr Sony, bring back the U60, I don't care how many pixels it has. In the meantime, here are some more, what I care to call, U60 moments.....


  1. Sadly the market life of a digital camera seems to be about 6 months to a year before it's pulled off the shelves and replaced, often with an inferior design. I don't know why this is, but often by the time the public realizes the camera is any good, it's impossible to find one to purchase.

  2. always thought the brits were nuts with their black kayaks. but hey - that's some nice black kayak. what is it ;) alison

  3. Hi Douglas!
    I join your campaign "Sony give us a new U60!" -;)

    Hi Alison!
    Some German paddlers are also very fond of this nice black British kayak:


  4. Alison there are actually two black Rockpool Alaw Bachs there: Richard's and Kenny's. In the sun they heat up and the hatch covers explode off! Also if you scrape them, the underneath looks terrible very quickly. I am very boring I have two white hull, white deck kayaks!

    Michael, Hans and I are in total agreement!

  5. Douglas, I had a root around on the net but failed to find you know of anyone who still has stock of these cameras?


    Mark R

  6. Hello Mark, they are very difficult to come by. I think Nick Crowhurst might have found somewhere in the States that still had them. I don't have his email but you could PM him on the UKRGB board.

    My brother in law recently bought one locally in Brisbane (they were very popular with tourists going the the Great Barrier Reef) but I cant find anything on Australian Google either.

    I am currently researching a very promising new development, which is neither Sony nor Pentax in origin. Watch this space...

    Douglas :o)

  7. Hi Douglas
    I have a DSC U60, but a lot of the time seem to get water drops and smear when the photo turns out. I have tried clearing obvious water droplets off the lens. Do you have any top tips for taking pictures with the camera when kayaking? How do you keep the lens clean?

  8. Hi Gary, this is a problem with all waterproof cameras. I use a drop of RainX, a water repellent liquid designed for car windscreens and motorcycle helmets. I also have a little square of synthetic chamois which I keep in a poly bag in my BA pocket. I keep the camera in a BA pocket with the lens facing the inside of the pocket. I hope that helps.
    Douglas :o)

  9. Yesterday my wife dropped my beloved DSC-U60 into a log jam on a river where it shall now reside forever. This was the best rough water sports camera I have ever seen and will miss it so much(megapixels smegapixels) If you have one stay tethered and happy.

  10. Liam this is a true disaster and one of which I am always fearful.

    I wish Sony would update it!

  11. I am off to buy some rain x forthwith! (That is, before I throw the Optio into Scapa Flow....)

  12. Greetings Northern, I know what you mean. Is Scapa Flow the Orcadian equivalent of the Optio drawer?


  13. Thanks for the review on the Sony.
    I am researching for a podcast program episode that will cover photography while sea kayaking and am looking for suggestions from people in the know. We started a forum on Flickr at
    Any help you guys can give would be greatly appreciated.