Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50
- Nice pictures, ISO 1000
- Poor burst mode
The W50 is a great camera, with good performance very similar to the W30, but with a slightly larger LCD display.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
The Sony DSC-W50 - a slightly upgraded version of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W30 - exhibits strong performance and is an excellent camera for day-to-day photography. The key differences between the two cameras are the larger LCD display on the DSC-W50 and the higher price tag.
What really impressed us about the DSC-W50 was its excellent performance across the full range of our Imatest checks, performance that matched the impressive DSC-W30 that we tested in May, 2006.
With a sharpness score of 1270, it performed well for a 6 megapixel model. Anything over 1200 is a good result for a camera of this level, and our shots reflected this with crisp, well defined edges. Sony has complemented this with an incredibly low .033% chromatic aberration score, which means the sharpness is consistent across the whole shot and this really enhances the final image.
Continuing this strong performance, the W50 scored 10 in our Colour Checker test. We consider anything below 10 to be an excellent result, and so while it just missed out on that bracket we were quite pleased with the end result. Red was the least accurate of the colours, a common problem among many point and shoots. The rest of the colour spectrum was well balanced with no major inaccuracies.
Rounding out a nice list of results was the W50's image noise score of .52%. Again, it fell just outside of the .5% bracket we classify as truly excellent, but it wasn't far off. Our shots exhibited no signs of the speckling that appear on many rival models' shots and everything was crisp and clean.
Performance and Features
The feature set on the W50 is virtually identical to its sibling. All the usual features are there, a variety of metering and focus modes, white balance presets (although no custom setting) and basic tweaks like colour and contrast. Once again Sony impresses with ISO settings all the way up to 1000 which gives it a big advantage over competing models that cap at 400 or 800. We found the burst fire mode to be disappointing, firing two frames a second for a mere three shots. We were also less than satisfied with the seven pre-set scene modes; some cameras offer upwards of twenty.
The camera performed at a fairly average level in our speed tests, with a shutter lag of just under .1 of a second. Power-up was a little sluggish at 2.2 seconds, but shot-to-shot time was a fairly speedy .12 of a second. The W50 has quite impressive battery life, lasting over 300 shots in our testing before needing a charge.
The camera comes in a standard silver chassis, although black is also available. It has a mostly metal body and feels durable enough to take a few knocks. The design is utilitarian for a very functional product.
The rear of the unit houses the 2.5in LCD display, half an inch larger than the display on the DSC-W30. The display quality was acceptable but did not stand out from the crowd.
We found the controls also followed this trend. There is a function wheel which gives access to the key shooting modes, as well as the different scene settings, and the menu system controls the rest. While we prefer dual menus for easy access to camera settings, Sony's menu is subdivided and works quite well. All the controls were easily accessible and felt securely mounted.
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