Sony DSC-W1 Review
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1 is a compact and durable camera that's loaded
with powerful features such as a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens and a high
resolution 5-megapixel imager. The W1 is easy to use in the Auto or Program
AE exposure modes and when you want to exercise your creative side, you can
simply rotate the mode dial to the desired shooting mode. With the ability
to choose from five different image sizes, the camera offers versatility for
all types of applications. The 3:2 mode is perfect for capturing images
without having to worry about cropping them for creating 4x6-inch prints.
Shooting in 1MP mode is great for sending pictures via e-mail or posting
listings at online auctions.
One of the most noticeable features of the W1 is the 2.5-inch TFT color LCD. I was impressed with the LCD's performance when using it in bright light conditions, the menu screens were legible and framing was no problem, even with Florida's bright sun beating directly on it. It also does very well in low-ambient light. The LCD "gains up" when shooting in these low light conditions, which is very important when shooting night-scenes, indoor shots, etc.
The Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens helps produces sharp images that are virtually free from any signs of chromatic aberration. At full wide angle there is a mild amount of barrel distortion, but not enough to cause any major distortion in your subjects. The 5-point auto focus system is very quick and thanks to the focus- assist lamp, we had very little problems focusing on subjects in low-light conditions. When using Macro mode, we found that the flash does an excellent job of "throttling down" to ensure that it does not overexpose macro subjects.
The shooting performance was impressive. Press the power button and it's ready to go in just under 2 seconds. Power up to first image captured was a fast 2.2 seconds. Shutter lag was a mere 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 2/10 of a second including autofocus. In Normal record mode, the shot to shot time is about 1.5 seconds. The W1 allows users to choose between two burst modes (Burst, Multi Burst). The number of images you can capture when shooting in burst mode depends on the image size and quality settings. Burst mode captured 9 frames in about 6.5 seconds. It takes about 9 seconds for the W1 to process a full buffer and then you can continue shooting. Shooting in Multi Burst mode, with the interval set at 1/30, captured 16 images in less than a second. When using Multi Burst mode, the image size is locked at 1MP and all 16 images a recorded within a single animated frame. Switching between record and playback mode takes about a second. In playback you can go from picture to picture in less than a second. All of our test were done using a 256MB Memory Stick Pro card, with the image size/quality set at 2592x1944/Fine mode and the flash off. All times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera setting, media, etc.
The overall image quality in 2592x1944/Fine mode is excellent, for the most part the default settings produce well saturated and properly exposed pictures. The user can control the saturation, contrast and sharpness so you can "dial in" just the right look for your images. I found that the automatic white balance did its job well and only under some very mixed lighting did I need to manually set the color temperature. I was pleased with our outdoor test shots. The images were sharp, well saturated, and there was very little noise in open blue sky areas. You can see this by taking a look at our Sample Photos page. When shooting indoors, you will have to work within the limited flash range. It works well for Portrait and small group photos, but does not have the power to light up large open rooms. I did notice a slight amount of redeye when the flash was set to auto, but this minute amount is acceptable. Some people seem to always have redeye, no matter what flash setting you are using.
Bottom line the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1 is an all around great camera. It makes a perfect choice for those wanting a compact, durable, and easy to use digicam. The 5-megapixel images it yields have plenty of resolution to make photo-quality 8x10-inch prints from home or you're local digital photo lab. It offers various shooting modes, which makes it usable by any member of the family. With a suggested list price of $400, it makes a great choice for your holiday gift list.
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