Sony DSC-W130 Review

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

Steve's Conclusion

The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is the entry-level model in Sony's new 2008 "W" series lineup. This does not mean that it is short on features in any way. The 8-megapixel compact camera, features a 4x Carl Zeiss optical zoom lens with SteadyShot image stabilization, a 2.5" LCD screen, optical viewfinder, several preprogrammed shooting modes as well as smile shutter technology and face detection technologies. The camera also features an MPEG movie mode that will capture audio and video at 30 fps until the memory card is full or up to a maximum file size of 2GB.

The ergonomics of the W130 are very good. This compact camera fits easily into one hand and is just as easy to operate that way. The zoom and shutter release are placed naturally under your forefinger and thumb. The mode dial and 4-way controller are also very easy to use, however, the buttons around them are very small and hard to push for someone with large fingers. The 2.5" LCD screen is great for framing your shots in any light, even bright sun light, and gains up in marginal conditions. There is also an optical viewfinder that makes it easy to shoot in harsh lighting; this is also a great way to save battery power.

Performance from the W130 was good. It was able to capture the first image just 2.6 seconds after pressing the power button. The shutter delay, the time it takes for the camera to capture an image after pressing the shutter release, was almost instantaneous when the camera was pre-focused and 7/10 of a second when it auto focused. In single shot mode the camera was able to capture 5 images in 7.9 seconds without the flash and 5 images in 14.2 seconds with the flash. The camera also features a continuous shooting mode that does not allow use of the flash. This was the most impressive feature, capturing 10 full 8-megapixel images in just 4.6 seconds, slightly over 2 frames per second! All of our tests were completed using a 1GB Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo memory card, Program mode, ISO Auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

The quality of our outdoor images were good. Our samples showed accurate exposures and pleasing color balance. The 4x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent of 32-128mm is excellent for landscape and group portrait photography at the wide end (slightly wider than most cameras), and the telephoto end is good for framing your landscapes and portraits and can get you a little closer to your distant objects. The image stabilization system makes shooting handheld with the zoom very easy. On the wide end of the zoom, you will notice moderate amounts of barrel distortion and you will also see slight chromatic aberrations and edge softness throughout the zoom range.

The builtin flash has a range of up to 12.9' when shooting in ISO auto. The camera will raise the ISO sensitivity fairly high if the you are too far away and in low-light situations so be careful at this range. The red-eye reduction mode did not seem to work very well in most of our portrait shots, especially when there are multiple subjects. It did however, do an excellent job of adjusting the white balance to give you very natural skin tones, even in odd lighting conditions such as our sample.

Our movie mode results were good. The camera did an excellent job of keeping the exposure set to the subject and changing for the brighter background. The 30fps video runs smoothly but does show some compression artifacting. The sound had very little background noise. You have a few recording options to choose from including quality (640 fine, normal and 320), white balance, color mode, and the SteadyShot image stabilization feature.

Powering the W130 is a 3.6V, 960 mAh rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. This battery allowed me to capture over 100 images (many of the them with the flash), several videos and complete all of our tests on a single charge. This is excellent battery life for this level of consumer camera, but we still recommend keeping an extra battery on hand just in case. With the external charger, it is easy to keep the extra battery charged and ready at all times.

Bottom Line - The Sony CyberShot DSC-W130 is a very stylish and compact 8-megapixel digicam. It is incredibly easy to use with several automatic shooting modes to assist you in difficult situations (not to mention a very handy Smile Shutter mode). The quality of our images was very good, as was the video. At about US$230 or less, this is a good deal. There are other very similar models such as the (W150, and W170) that offer a few more features. If you don't need 8-megapixels, the W120 is the identical to the W130, with 7- megapixels for about $30 less.

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