Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Sony WX80 275 pixels.jpg
  • 16.2-megapixels of resolution
  • EXMOR R CMOS image sensor
  • 8x optical zoom lens
  • Optical SteadyShot image stabilization
  • Full HD video
  • Sweep Panorama mode
  • Very easy-to-use controls
  • Built-in Wi-Fi 
  • Li-ion battery
  • Can use either MS Duo or SD memory cards
  • Very small camera body
Pros
  • Extremely small camera
  • Camera is fast performer versus others in its price range
  • Some surprising advanced features
  • Image quality is good for camera in this price range
  • Flash photo quality is good
  • WX80 is very easy to use
  • Built-in help mode and FAQs are helpful for beginners
  • Built-in Wi-Fi capabilities
  • HDMI port is included
  • Battery life is good for a small camera
  • Very fast burst mode at full resolution
Cons
  • Slight softness in images when attempting to make large prints
  • 8x optical zoom lens could be larger
  • Not enough of a "hitch" between optical zoom and digital zoom settings
  • Menu options are a bit odd and take some practice to use properly
  • Control buttons are too small to use comfortably for some people
  • Power switch is too small and is recessed, making it tough to press if you're in a hurry
  • More options for aspect ratios and resolutions would be nice to have
  • LCD screen is small and could use more resolution
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.8 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.1  seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 4.1 seconds between frames with minimum review time On (review cannot be turned Off)
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 4.2 seconds between frames with minimum review time On  (review cannot be turned Off)
  • Low Speed Continuous = 10 frames in 4.8 seconds @ 16M
  • High Speed Continuous = 10 frames in 1.6 seconds @ 16M
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
At first glance you probably won't expect much in the way of photographic capabilities out of the Sony Cyber-shot WX80. Because this camera is so small, it's difficult to imagine that it will give you great results. However, the WX80 will surprise you with how quickly it's able to record images, offering almost no shutter lag and limited shot to shot delays. This camera also works well in burst mode, providing quick responses at full image resolution. Image quality is good with this tiny camera, although you will notice some image softness at large sizes. A small LCD screen and an 8x optical zoom lens limit the appeal of this model, but the WX80 is a good performer versus other thin cameras in the sub-$200 price point.
Pick This Up If...
You need a fast-performing, extremely small camera that carries a pretty low price tag, and you don't mind a small LCD and a below average sized optical zoom lens.
The general rule of thumb regarding small and thin cameras is that they typically look good and they fit easily in a pocket, but they usually don't offer the performance levels that you need to shoot great photos.

Sony is attempting to put an end to that way of thinking with its Cyber-shot WX80 camera. This model is extremely small and carries a sub-$200 price point, which is what you'd expect to find in a this type of camera.

Somewhat unexpectedly though, you will find that the WX80 provides very fast response times, good burst and continuous shot modes, and pretty good image quality in the majority of shooting situations. Versus others in this price point and at this size, the WX80 has above average performance.

This Cyber-shot camera has a few problems, including a slightly soft auto focus performance that makes it a little tough to create large prints. Additionally, the WX80 only offers a 2.7-inch LCD screen and an 8x optical zoom lens, both of which are below average features versus other cameras released this year. With such a small camera, some drawbacks are to be expected, but Sony has kept the limitations to a minimum with the Cyber-shot WX80.

The size of this camera is difficult to understand until you're holding and using it. The photo included on this page really doesn't do the camera justice as to how small it is. It measures about 3.75 by 2.13 by 0.91 inches, and it feels even smaller as you're using it.

With such a small camera, Sony had to make the control buttons pretty small. If you have large fingers, you're going to find it a bit difficult to use the various control buttons on the back panel of the WX80. The power button is very small, too, and it's recessed, which makes it difficult to use for those with larger hands. There's also no physical mode dial with this camera, meaning you must make all shooting mode settings using the LCD screen.

Small point-n-shoot cameras typically have small zoom lenses, and Sony chose to include an 8x optical zoom lens with the WX80. This measurement is just a little bit below average versus new cameras on the market, and it won't allow you to shoot over a great distance. However, an 8x optical zoom should work adequately for everyday shooting situations, such as group photos and portraits. The WX80 moves through its zoom range very quickly ... almost too quickly in fact, as it's very easy to unknowingly move past the 8x optical zoom limit into digital zoom, which isn't as sharp.

Using digital zoom with the WX80 will not produce great results because the camera already has a little bit of softness in its autofocus system and because Sony includes a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor with this camera; which is standard in most all cameras in this price range. You probably won't notice the softness when viewing the images at normal sizes on a computer screen, but you'll see it when you magnify the images on the screen, attempt to crop small portions of an image, or make large prints.

Outside of that slight softness, the image quality for the Cyber-shot WX80 is above average versus other extremely small cameras and others in the sub-$200 price range. Colors are realistic and most images are well exposed. Low light image quality is also good with the WX80, thanks in part to its CMOS image sensor. For further low light success, Sony included the ability to shoot at an ISO up to 12800. However, images will have quite a bit of noise at the higher ISO settings.

Even when shooting in low light or with the flash, the Sony WX80 remains a fast performer, especially versus others in this price point. This camera has very little shutter lag in all shooting conditions. Its start-up times are fast, too, requiring less than three seconds from pressing the power button to shooting the first photo. Using the flash really doesn't cause any delays with this camera. The WX80's burst modes are especially impressive for a thin, inexpensive camera, allowing you to shoot up to several frames per second at full 16-megapixel resolution. Few sub-$200 cameras can perform as fast as the WX80. 

One disappointment occurs with the fact that Sony only chose to offer two still image aspect ratios with this camera -- 16:9 and 4:3. And you'll only have two resolution options at the widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. More flexibility in this area would have been nice to have.

Shot to shot delays approach 4 seconds with or without the flash, primarily because of the review function with the WX80, where the photo that was just shot remains visible on the screen. You can't turn off the review function. However, you can tell the camera to end the review function early by pressing the shutter button halfway while the review image is shown on the LCD screen.

Speaking of the LCD on the Cyber-shot WX80, it's a small unit, only measuring 2.7 inches diagonally. Because this camera body is so small, though, the LCD screen doesn't look too small in proportion to the camera. The LCD offers 230,000 pixels of resolution, which could be better. However, the image sharpness and brightness with this LCD is about average.

Through the LCD screen, you can access the Sony WX80's various help screens, which are great for beginners. You can access a glossary, an FAQ, or some basic shooting instructions through the Help button on the back of the camera.

The shooting aspects on the point-n-shoot WX80 are pretty easy to use as well. A three-way toggle switch on the back of the camera puts you in still image, movie, or panoramic modes. From there you can access an on-screen popup menu to modify other aspects of the chosen shooting function. The Cyber-shot WX80 has no full manual mode, which means the WX80 is very easy to use in all modes. 

To maintain the small size of the WX80, Sony included very small control buttons. In fact the most difficult aspect of using this camera may be the control buttons. If you have big hands this camera likely will frustrate you because of its small overall size and small buttons. Sony did choose to include a spin ring in place of the four-way button, which makes it much easier to move quickly through menu options and stored photos.

Additionally, the Cyber-shot WX80 has a thin rechargeable battery, which helps the camera to remain lightweight. Despite a small battery, my tests showed that this Sony camera has a good battery life versus other thin cameras. 

If you choose to use the Sony WX80's built-in Wi-Fi option on a regular basis, you may experience a significantly shortened battery life. You can use the Wi-Fi feature to download photos to a computer or to use a smartphone to control the camera remotely. It does take a bit of time and effort to set up the Wi-Fi connectivity, but this is a feature that works pretty well.

Sony included three different HD movie resolution options with the WX80, which can be handy for those photographers who may want to create movies they can copy to Blu-ray discs. Movie quality is good with this camera, and the full 8x optical zoom lens is available while shooting movies, although it moves through its range quite a bit more slowly than it does while shooting still images. This helps the AF system keep up while zooming.

Bottom Line - Sony has created one of the smallest digital cameras on the market in its Cyber-shot DSC-WX80. This camera's size doesn't prevent it from having some good performance features, though, as it offers very fast response times compared to similarly priced point-n-shoot models. The Cyber-shot WX80 may surprise you with some of the things it can do, as most photographers look at a small, thin camera and expect below average performance. Shutter lag is not noticeable, and the camera responds quickly after each photo, even when using the flash. Battery life is good with the WX80. Image quality is pretty good with the Sony WX80, too, although there is a bit of image softness, which you'll notice when you attempt to view the images at magnified sizes or when you try to make large prints. With such a small model, you will have to put up with a few undesirable features, such as small control buttons, a small LCD screen, and an optical zoom lens limited to 8x. This isn't the kind of camera that you're going to want to take to the soccer game when trying to capture photos over a distance because of the small zoom lens. However, the WX80 is great for placing in a pocket and shooting portrait and group photos in all kinds of shooting conditions. You can use the built-in Wi-Fi to upload your photos to social networks right after you shoot them; so long as you have access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. And with a price tag under $200, the Sony WX80 is going to give you a very good value.


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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