Timing Test Results
|The Cyber-Shot DSC-W570 is a competitive ultra-compact digicam in the sub $200 market. With a tiny frame that is packed with some of Sony's well-known technologies, the W570 has a lot to offer for a camera sporting a price tag of just $159 US or less. |
Pick This Up If...
|You want an inexpensive, ultra-compact digital camera that is light on price, but not features. |
Sony keeps the W570 a practical camera that you wouldn't mind taking with you. With a smooth design both slimmer and smaller than a deck of cards, this camera is available in silver, violet, black, and pink. The only two protruding buttons are the zoom rocker and the directional selector (aka 4-way controller). This makes the camera ultra-smooth for easy retrieving from your pocket or handbag (I actually preferred carrying this camera in my pocket than my cellphone). Even more, this does not hinder the ease of button manipulation either. Although, the power button is no exception, you still have to visually look to find it. The control layout is very understandable, making it direction-free right out of the box. Moreover, if you happen to lose, forget, or even hate reading user manuals, the W570 comes with an In-Camera guide to help you. The vertical camera, panorama, or movie selector switch is well-situated on the edge, making it easy for your thumb to naturally manipulate. The W570 is also very easy to shoot one-handed by pinching it, but if you were to needing to adjust controls, two hands are needed. My failed attempt to adjust the controls with one hand resulted in me spilling my drink with the other - which is no good.
Zooming is less than desirable. The W570 utilizes a rocker zoom that is naturally located for thumb operation, which controls the camera's Carl Zeiss optical lens 5x zoom. The focal length is 25mm wide angle to 125mm telephoto (4:3 mode), giving the camera a nice wide field of view. Zoom operation however, is a bit choosy on framing. One small touch zooming in or out and the frame makes a sizable jump, therefore creating a difficult situation for precise framing. We were forced to use the "zoom with your feet" method for some of our sample photos; specifically the theater and fire station. The W570's fussy zoom operation didn't generate much of an issue with our shots as we had plenty of space, but this could be an issue if you're shooting in a limited space environment.
The W570 also includes a 2.7-inch LCD with a 230,000 dots making viewing menus or playback suitable for a sub-compact digicam. An adjustable backlight brightness allowed the display to be readily viewable in the direct sunlight, however like most LCDs there are still various angles which reflect light. The display can also be viewed up to 80° in all directions. It should be noted that the clear cover over the screen was rather easily scratched. I carried this camera in a bag along with two other point-and-shoot cameras, and that alone produced minor scratches on the cover. Lastly, the W570 displays useful data in the HUD (Heads Up Display) such as shooting mode, image size, and battery life. The only real issue we had with the W570's HUD was lack of information in playback. Even with the detailed display info enabled, you get very little information; most importantly, which exposure mode was used.
Like the mode switch, the menus for the W570 also share its compact, accessible, and sensible characteristics. If you are familiar with Sony's Cyber Shot interface, the W570 should make you feel right at home. The menu settings thoughtfully arrange basic to more customizable options, depending on which mode you are currently in. In all modes, the menus are logically ordered, consistent, and easy to see and understand with picturesque icons (along with short descriptions of each). If you have the camera in 'Camera' mode, the first item on the list upon entering the menu is logically the 'REC' mode, which allows you to choose from iAuto, Program, or Scene. If you are not acquainted with iAuto, it is an intelligent shooting mode that intelligently chooses the appropriate settings for you. iAuto thinks for you by recognizing scenes, lighting, and faces and then automatically adjusts exposure settings. iAuto also incorporates iSCN technology that determines what type of image you are trying to capture, and within 1/30th of a second it automatically places the camera in that scene mode. Like we saw with the WX10, you cannot manually set the camera to macro mode; it can only be accessed when iAuto chooses this option.
When using iAuto, you have access to adjustments for image size, burst shooting, exposure value, iSCN+ (automatically takes one more shot in dark scenes), smile detection sensitivity, face detection, and camera settings. Program mode extends to even more fine-tuning with ISO, white balance, focus, metering, and DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer, which helps you recover image details lost in the shadows of high contrast images). A cool feature with iAuto and Program mode is the AF tracking and face detection features. Pressing the 'Select' button in the live feed will toggle between these features, which will either track your moving subject, or detect a face. In Playback mode, the menu options include a slideshow, view preference, some image editing (crop, red eye, sharpness, and rotate), and image protect. The fact that it is possible to protect images from being accidentally deleted could be a potential lifesaver.
Perhaps the one of my favorite features of the W570 is Sony's naturalistic Sweep panorama technology. Nestled in between the camera and the video recorder on the mode switch, Sweep Panorama creates an easy to understand (and operate) function for capturing smooth and vast panorama landscapes. You have two options to choose from; standard or underwater (a waterproof casing is required for the W570, which is not included). Another handy feature is the ability to choose from shooting left to right, right to left, and horizontally or vertically. And lastly, you can choose whether to shoot in panorama standard (approx. a 120° view), and panorama wide (approx. a 180° view).
Overall image quality from the W570 is average for a consumer point-n-shoot in the sub $200 category. While iAuto would be the obvious choice for most users, we found that it actually produces lesser quality photos than the simple Program mode. In almost ever instance we tested, Program would produce sharper images with more fine details than the same subjects captured using iAuto. While colors are more saturated in iAuto, which some will enjoy, when viewing images closely you can see some "smudging", along with a good amount of noise. This caused photos to appear out of focus at times; which could be seen even at normal viewing sizes (like fullscreen on you monitor for example). Also, like the H70 and WX10, the W570 seemed to overexpose images outdoors, causing detail loss in highlights. While taking photos of some teenagers who were about to attend prom, we saw that even the skin of one of the girls was totally blown out. This was a bit disappointing considering the W570's "Dynamic Range Optimizer" technology, which is suppose to help increase dynamic range.
Recording videos on the W570 is a clear-cut operation that requires no instruction. The camera can shoot at 720p HD or VGA 480p resolutions, and outputting the videos are saved using .MP4/MPEG-4 format. An alternative underwater movie mode option is also available if you have the additional accessories needed to take the camera in water (this NOT a waterproof camera). Other menu options include modifications for exposure value, white balance, and metering. A nice capability of the W570 is the ability to use the 5x optical zoom while recording a movie. This will come in handy, and it's nice to see the lens moves very slowly to help the AF system keep up; and also cuts down on zoom motor noise in you video. Like most all consumer digicams, the W570's mono microphone is extremely sensitive, picking up all kinds of background noise. So, be sure to be aware of your surrounds when starting to record a video.
Battery life is a tad below average. Sony claims the included NP-BN1 Li-ion battery pack can power the camera for up to 220 shots. While we feel that's a pretty accurate claim, 220 shots may not be quite enough for a full day out at the beach or at your favorite theme park. Luckily, the battery is charged out of camera, so you can always pick up a spare battery pack for $50 or less, and have it charged and in your bag or purse. This is highly recommended, especially if you have an upcoming vacation. The included charger has fold-away prongs (no cord needed), so it too can easily be tucked into your bag.
Bottom line - Sony has created a very appealing ultra-compact digicam with their Cyber-Shot DSC-W570. This camera is petite, sleek, and stylish; while at the same time is packed with some nice features. With excellent shooting performance, good image quality in Program mode, and easy to use controls and GUI, the W570 should please most users looking for a pocket sized camera. With a street price of only $159 US or less, the W570 offers an excellent value for the features and performance you are receiving.
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