HOME / PRINT
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1
Sony’s new range of digital cameras and camcorder feature the Exmor R sensor and a bunch of innovative features that makes photography easy and fun for everyone. The all-black Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is the latest compact digital camera by Sony that promises outstanding low-light performance thanks to the latest image sensor.
This slick camera weighs only 148 grams (with battery) and is about the size of a deck of cards. The most striking features are the 5x optical zoom lens with a focal length of 24 mm at the widest angle and 720p video capturing capability—very rare for a compact digital camera. Further the optics is complemented by an optical image stabilization mechanism and the firmware has a raft of fun features.
By the user interface and feature-set the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is clearly targeted towards those who want something that’s compact and powerful but at the same time fun and easy to use. If you have a large group of friends whom you hang out with, you’ll love the 24 mm wide angle lens on this camera—you can easily capture them in one frame without moving away too far.
To give you a rough idea, you can shoot a person from head to toe from a distance of just 3 feet. Face detection and smile shutter comes in very handy while shooting people. With the smile shutter option enabled the camera automatically clicks the picture when the subject smiles. The intensity of smile can be set to slight, normal or big. So you choose between the three depending on how broadly you want the subject to smile. Unlike mega-zoom cameras that offer complete and partial manual modes, the WX1 is sweet and simple with just auto, easy and program mode. While the auto mode allows you to adjust the resolution, EV, smile detection sensitivity, face detection and so on, easy mode only allows you to set the image size to large or small and enable/disable flash.
The camera automatically detects the type of scene and adjusts the exposure automatically. So even if you haven’t held a digital camera yet, this camera won’t intimidate you. If you’re well-versed with parameters such as white balance, ISO settings, focus, metering and bracketing, you can switch to the program mode which is the most advanced mode this camera offers.
To make shooting in low light a breeze, Sony had added the anti motion blur and hand-held twilight modes. These modes ensure you get steady and well-exposed shots in low light. When enabled, the camera captures a burst of six shots taken at high ISO speed and manipulates them to give a single best shot—a very neat feature.
Next up, the scene selection mode has presets such as fireworks, beach, food, pets and twilight. A very useful preset here, is soft snap in which the camera automatically adjusts the aperture for capturing subjects with soft background. The most fun-to-use mode is sweep panorama. With this mode enabled, you simply have to hit the shutter release button and move the camera from left to right or right to left to capture a 180 degree panorama. The capturing and stitching is done automatically by the camera. The shooting direction can be set to top to bottom or bottom to top, and the white balance, focus and metering can be set manually in this mode.
The Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 can seamlessly capture videos at 720p (1280x720) at 30 fps which is very respectable for a compact digital camera. Exposure parameters such as EV, white balance and metering mode can be adjusted depending on the ambient lighting. Optical zoom and image stabilization are operational while shooting videos. So you can shoot videos even from a moving car without worrying about jerkiness.
The camera lets you show off your photos and videos in style both on the camera’s large 2.7-inch or a TV. In addition to the conventional in-camera image viewer, the Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 offers a slideshow mode with background music. You can choose between four music loops (two soothing, one techno and one rock) depending on the mood of your photos. Plus you can choose between four effects—simple, nostalgic, stylish and active. While the simple effect displays photos one after the other after the set time interval, the rest feature fancy transition effects.
The nostalgic effect displays all images in sepia tone with a soothing music playing in the background—nice for recalling those precious old memories. The playback mode also offers options for printing images (using PictBridge) and retouching images. There are built-in tools for cropping, sharpening and redeye removal—very easy to use requiring just a few button presses. You can access the playback mode directly from the off state with the press of a button. No need to first power up the device and then switch to the playback mode.
The camera bundles with a strap, common cable for transferring data and AV out and a 4 GB Memory Stick Pro Duo card. We wish Sony had included a carrying pouch. Nevertheless, you’ll never run out of space as you can shoot 80 minutes of video at 720p or 830 photos (10.2 megapixels) with 4 GB of bundled storage.
Design and build quality
The Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is encased in a sturdy plastic shell and the front portion is shielded with a metal housing. The quality of the zoom rocker, dials, buttons, cables and battery compartment lid is top notch. We suggest you protect the LCD display with a scratch guard film as it’s delicate and prone to fingerprints and scratches.
Even though the camera is compact and packed with loads of features, it’s very easy to use thanks to its ergonomic design and intuitive user interface. The one-inch wide control panel to the right of the screen comprises a zoom rocker, mode selection dial, playback button, 5-way d-pad, menu button and delete button.
The rim of the mode selection dial is teethed so that it’s easy to rotate it with the thumb. You don’t necessarily have to keep an eye on the dial to check the selected mode. The right side of the display shows the active mode along with a one line description as you rotate the dial. The 5-way d-pad has four shortcuts—smile shutter, timer, flash and screen display settings.
A hotkey for burst mode is present to the right of the shutter release button on the top. The menu is displayed in the form of a vertical strip at the left edge of the screen with its parameters listed horizontally. The d-pad has good tactility but you have to use the tip of your thumb’s nail to make sure you press the right button, unless you have delicate fingers.
The tiny little WX1 is a great performer both during daytime as well as at night. The reproduction of color and details is excellent in well lit conditions. However we noticed strong chromatic aberrations when we shot close subjects against bright light. But we didn’t see this problem with distant objects.
Macro shots look good, but the shooting range isn’t as less as high-end cameras. When you shoot close-ups from a distance of 2 inches or greater the camera auto-adjusts to macro mode. There is no dedicated macro mode.
The image stabilization and low light performance deserve special mention. As soon as you lock the focus, the image stabilizer springs into action. It’s so good that you can capture blur-free shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/10 of a second. Else it’s difficult to get crisp shots at speeds less than 1/30 of a second.
The brilliant performance of the new Exmor R sensor is very evident in low lighting conditions. We shot some subjects at night in poor lighting conditions without flash and the results were outstanding. The noise was unbelievably less at ISO 800. Most digital cameras fail to deliver good results at ISO greater than 400.
The handheld twilight mode is very useful at night—crisp shots guaranteed, but the amount of noise is quite high at ISO 3200 in very poor light. The quality of video recording is also great. Videos recorded at 720p look very good on a big screen and the result is stutter-free. The only quirk we thought needed attention was heating up of the device after prolonged usage—shoot a 10 minute video or capture around 25 shots and it feels uncomfortable.
The price tag of Rs 19,990 (MRP) completely justifies the lengthy list of features and the stellar performance. Although you can pick a compact mega-zoom for a lesser price, you get a wide-angle lens, 720p video recording capability, 4 GB memory card and a big bunch of handy features to play around with in one compact device that can slide in your pocket.
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 91 x 52 x 20 mm
- Weight: 149g
- LCD Display: 2.7" 230,000 dots
- Sensor: CCD
- Resolution: 10.2 megapixels
- Aperture range: F2.4 - F5.9
- Shutter Speed: 2 - 1/1600 sec
- Optical Zoom: 5x
- ISO sensitivity: Auto, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
- Flash: Auto, Auto, Flash On, Slow Syncro, Flash Off
- Self Timer: 2 or 10 sec
- Movie recording: 720p
- Storage: Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo, Internal
- MRP: Rs 19,990