Steve's Conclusion


Steve's SnapShotThumbnail image for DSC-W650_Silver_Right_lg.jpg

  • 16-Megapixel CCD image sensor 
  • 5x Carl Zeiss optical zoom lens: 35mm equivalent of 25 - 125mm (4:3)
  • Steadyshot Optical Image Stabilization
  • 3.0-inch, 230K pixel LCD screen
  • 360 Sweep Panorama
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Optical Zoom while Recording video
  • Face Detection
  • Smile Detection
  • iAuto mode
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • Memory Stick Pro and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • Mulitport output

  • Ultra-Compact body is always easy to carry with you at all times
  • Easy to use controls and menu system
  • Captures nice 16-megapixel photos when using auto or program modes
  • Convenient control to quickly switch between Still, Panorama, or Video
  • Panorama technology is easy to use
  • Short descriptions of each exposure setting
  • In-camera photo editing such as crop, rotate, sharpening, and red eye correction
  • Available in silver, red and black
  • In-camera guide if you lose or forget the manual, or if you prefer hands-on learning
  • Weak built-in flash (typical for camera of this size however)
  • High levels of noise at all ISO settings over ISO 400; can be seen indoors and out when pixel peeping
  • Lacking a little in the performance area
  • No mode button to take you directly to scene modes
  • No way to manually go into macro mode
  • Good battery life for the battery size, but the battery size (630mAh) is very small

Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.3  seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 7/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash =   2.6 seconds 
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash =  3 seconds
  • Burst mode = Approx. 1.0 fps. First 7 images were faster, then the buffer fulls and the shots slow considerably
  • GUI Navigation - responsive
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Pro 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, Flash off, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
An affordable and competent ultra-compact digicam, the Cyber-shot DSC-W650 has excellent quality and performs on par with other cameras in its class. Its price tag of under $140 makes it a great candidate for anyone on a budget. 
Pick This Up If...
You are on a budget but still want a capable camera that is easy to take and use almost anywhere. 
The Sony DSC-W650 is a sleek and simple ultra-compact digicam. Sporting a 16-Megapixel Super HAD CCD Sensor, BIONZ image processor, 5x optical Carl Zeiss lens with optical Steady Shot Image Stabilization, 720p HD video capture and Sony's Sweep Panorama shooting mode, you would expect this to be a pricy digicam. You will also find fully automatic shooting modes and an in-camera guide, making the W650 a very simple camera to operate. Even with all of these accessories and more, the W650 is quite an affordable camera, coming in with a price tag well under $150. For the style conscience, the camera is available in Silver, Red and Black to fit your personality.

Ultra-Compact and very easy to handle, the W650 is ready to go anywhere with you at any time. It's fully automated controls allow the user to grab the camera, point and shoot in a hurry without having to worry about having the correct shooting settings.  The controls are well placed on the back of the camera and very easy to make the correct selection, as does the distinct and easy to use menu system that Sony provides. Framing and viewing your images is a pleasure with the 3.0-inch Clear Photo LCD with 230,000 dots of resolution. With 5 levels of brightness, this screen is easy to see in any lighting condition you will find yourself in.

Looking at our outdoor samples, we see that the camera handles the outdoor exposures very well, even with bright sun and shadow together. The colors are vivid and pleasing and image noise is contained very well, even in the shadows. On the wide end, we did see a little barrel distortion and some chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range in high-contrast areas. Assisting with the framing and compositing of your images is done with the 5x optical Carl Zeiss lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 25-125mm, you have a great range for everyday shooting. Sony has also included its optical steady shot to help reduce shaky hands and vibrations while shooting. 

Our indoor samples show that the auto white balance is a little on the warm side with and without the flash, but is accurate between the two. Looking closely, our images shot between ISO 100 and ISO 400 look very good. They are clear and have an acceptable amount of noise for each setting. All of these images will produce decent smaller prints. Anything above ISO 400 has a high level of noise and the fine details in the image start to disappear. The image also starts to lose its sharpness. Assisting with your low-light images is a small built-in flash unit. As you can see in our portrait sample, the flash is not very powerful so the camera has to up the ISO to compensate. This will increase the amount of noise in your images a bit. Staying as close to your subject as possible will help take some of the noise out of your images.

Adjusting and incorporating the flash very well, the W650 had did an excellent job of exposing and creating pleasing portraits. With just a little bit of noise when viewing the images up close from the increased ISO, you will be pleased as the noise helps to smooth skin tones and hide small blemishes. You can also see in our sample that the camera concentrates 100% on the faces, while it blew out the background lights in order to expose the faces correctly. Both the camera's face detection and adjustable smile detection work well. The self-portrait self timer is a little fast, so if you plan to use it, you need to get into the image and be ready almost immediately.

Sony's famous Sweep Panorama mode provides you with the ability to press the shutter once and pan with the camera while the camera repeatedly captures images and stitches them together as you go. We have seen some descent images come from this from other digicams, however, this is not one of them. There is a very high level of image noise from the camera using high ISO settings. It also was a bit off when stitching the images, and we had a bit of difficulty getting the camera to complete the full 360° sweep. This is a great tool to quickly capture a panoramic image or prepare to create an image of actual photographs that you will stitch together on your PC later.

Capturing video with the W650 is as easy as switching the mode dial to movie mode, then pressing the shutter release to capture 720p HD video with sound. While recording the optical zoom is available, giving you a little extra creative freedom. Just remember the onboard mic will not zoom with your lens; you'll still hear close up subjects over the ones you're zoomed in on. Our captured videos were sharp and the camera did an excellent job of keeping focus on a moving subject. They play back without stuttering and the sound is descent for a digicam. There was some background noise in our samples, so to help avoid this, try to stay away from anything that makes noise and out of the wind. 

Powering the W650 is a small 3.6V, 630mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. While this battery is smaller than we are used to seeing lately with any digicam, this battery was enough for us to capture over 100 images and several short videos while completing our tests without even coming close to depleting the battery. This small battery stays right in line with the 200+ images per charge that we have been seeing lately out of most point-n-shoot cameras. We would like to see Sony put a larger battery in camera's like these to up the number of images captured, but for now we will have to settle with keeping a spare battery on hand. Also included is a compact portable quick charger, which lets you carry it along in your bag to charge anywhere an outlet is available, and it also makes charging a spare possible while you're using another battery in the camera.

Bottom Line - The Sony Cyber-shot W650 is an affordable ultra-compact digicam for anyone looking for a quality camera without having every bell and whistle. It sports a 16-Megapxel imaging sensor, Bionz image processor, Optical Steady shot, Sweep Panorama and an HD video capture mode. This great set of features is accompanied by high image quality and average performance for an entry-level camera. With a MSRP of $139.99 USD, you can't go wrong with this camera if you are looking for an everyday camera on a strict budget.

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