So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300
A compact camera with a big sensor.
- Small and well built, easy to use, manual aperture and shutter control, good low-light performance
- Slow and imprecise zoom control, sometimes hard to focus, battery life is a little short, manual aperture only has three stops to select from
The DSC-W300's pictures are clear, vibrant and free of noise and distortion. It performs well in almost any situation and is well-built to handle the rigours of travel.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300 is a small camera with a huge sensor. It can capture 13.6-megapixel (Mp) images, yet the camera itself is small enough to be carried in your pocket.
Its lens has a focal length of 35mm to 105mm (35mm equivalent) with an aperture of f/2.8 at its widest point, and f/5.5 at the maximum zoom point. With its 3x optical zoom, the DSC-W300 won't get you up close and personal with your subjects, so if you plan on taking detailed shots from afar you'll want a camera with a bigger zoom. The shallow zoom works in the camera's favour in terms of image quality, as images did not suffer from noticeable distortion on either the horizontal or vertical planes.
The zoom function isn't very smooth to use. You also need to be mindful of the digital zoom, which the camera will switch to seamlessly if you press the zoom button after you reach the 3x mark.
Because the camera has a 13.6Mp sensor and takes photos at a resolution of 3264x2448, there isn't too much need to zoom in on your subjects in most situations, as you can easily crop images. As long as you don't crop out a massive portion of a photo, you'll still be left an image that is suitable for a 4x6in print.
For everyday shots around the home, at parties and even at sporting events, the DSC-W300 does a great job. Its images are relatively sharp and unaffected by noise, and its colours are vibrant without being over-saturated. It's also capable of taking clear and well-lit night shots, and its built-in image stabilisation does a good job of keeping hand-held shots well defined even at shutter speeds around 1/15th of a second.
However, it does sometimes struggle to find the focus point in landscape shots, which can be hard to see on the 2.7in LCD screen (especially when it's a bright day). It focuses quickly for the most part, even in indoor situations, and its focus assistants, such as face detection and the smile shutter, are effective.
The shutter and power buttons are the only buttons on the top of the unit, while the rear has the zoom, mode and menu navigation controls. There is a manual mode, as well as auto and various scene modes to choose from. The manual mode is most useful when taking shots in a dark environment if you don't want to overdose on ISO speed. The camera did a good job of exposing photos in its auto and program modes, and we didn't really get too many over-exposed shots during our tests.
There are three metering modes you can choose from when the camera is in manual or program modes (spot, centre-weighted and entire frame), as well as different focusing modes (entire frame, centre, central point). You can even set the focus according to distance (0.5m, 1m, 3m, 7m and infinity), which can be a little hard to work with.
The camera is swift when starting up and taking photos; it doesn't take long to save photos to its Memory Stick Pro DUO and let you get on with shooting the next shot. The speed of its menu system is adequate, but the camera does take a long time to delete photos, which is perhaps understandable considering their large resolution.
Apart from taking crisp and vibrant still shots, the DSC-W300 also does a good job of capturing video. It captures it at 640x480 in fine mode, and we observed smooth frame rates, clear audio and accurate exposure when filming in stadium conditions at a sporting event. It also did well around the office and outdoors. It's great for capturing little clips for use on YouTube.
For $549, the DSC-W300 will give you clear and vibrant shots in pretty much any situation and also do a good job of capturing video. It's easy to use, and it's built to withstand the rigours of travel. It's worth considering if you're in the market for a high-resolution compact camera and don't require a big zoom lens.
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