Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 digital camera

This compact digital camera has a good zoom lens and a novel Sweep Panorama mode

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1

Pros

  • Reasonable low-light performance, several useful features, fast and sharp lens

Cons

  • Slow start-up and focus performance, puzzling control layout

Bottom Line

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is a digital camera that packs new technology into a small and simple body. There are aspects we think could be better but overall the DSC-WX1 is an interesting and sometimes useful compact camera.

Would you buy this?

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is a compact digital camera with a 5x zoom lens and a new Exmor-R CMOS sensor. It takes better photos in dim lighting than many other compacts we have tested and has a reasonably competent lens, but overall photo quality isn't significantly better than other cameras with a similar price and specifications.

The cornerstone of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is the new sensor. It's better at taking photos in low-light conditions than the tiny CMOS sensors frequently used on compact digital cameras. The sensor is backed up by the 5x zoom lens that has a maximum aperture of f2.4 on the wide end. This allows the camera to capture more light than the Canon IXUS 120 IS (a competing camera), allowing faster shutter speeds and resulting in less blur.

When it comes to all specifications bar image resolution, the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 equals or bests the Canon IXUS 120 IS. It has a wider lens (24mm versus 28mm), a larger zoom than the Canon's 4x, and a maximum ISO setting of 3200 compared to the Canon's 1600. These benefits come at a small increase in price, but on paper the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is a tempting proposition.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 has all the usual controls you'd expect to see on a compact digital camera. We didn't like the placement of the playback button — it's nestled between the program dial and the control dial, making it hard to tap in order to quickly check your images.

Shooting is relatively simple when using the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 in its three 'dumb' modes. The camera has a few nifty features: the Sweep Panorama mode was our favourite, requiring only a single press of the shutter button and a wide sweeping motion to capture a stitched panorama photograph. It doesn't work perfectly, but it's a fun novelty. The DSC-WX1 has a burst mode that captures up to 10 frames in a single second — useful for capturing your kid's sporting events. A 720p movie mode that outputs at 30 frames per second is also available although footage is not brilliant.

The camera's Anti Motion Blur mode bumps up the ISO and fully opens the camera's aperture to ensure a fast shutter speed, while the interesting Hand-held Twilight mode captures six frames in quick succession and layers them to expose slightly more shadow detail than a single frame.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1's 10-megapixel images, when taken in optimum conditions, are clean enough to be printed at A3 sizes but we wouldn't advise anything larger. High ISO settings introduce visible grain and chroma noise, but ISO 100 and 200 produce clean and detailed images.

One downside is that the camera is not particularly quick. We measured a start-up time of 1.5 seconds — sluggish enough to be annoying — and its shut-down speed was similarly slow. Autofocus speed was consistently impressive, though, with no need to select a macro mode for close-up shots — the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 handles this automatically.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is a mixed bag. We liked its Sweep Panorama mode and low-light performance, but a few flaws stop it from being a perfect pocket camera. Nonetheless, it's a strong competitor to Canon's IXUS 120 IS.

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