Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120
A fashionable budget point-and-shoot camera
- Good picture quality, fashionable styling
- Lacks features, slightly over-priced
The Cyber-shot DSC-W120 is a fashionable camera that is simple to use and captures crisp, rich photos, although it’s slightly expensive and doesn’t have many advanced features.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Sony's DSC-W120 is a camera designed for the novice user and placed in the middle of the market. It's not as complex as Sony's T-series models, but it comes at a much more affordable price. Released in a wide range of colours, including metallic pink, it offers a compromise between usable features and a fashionable appearance.
It's fairly thin at 23mm, and it weighs 150g with its battery and a Memory Stick installed. The camera's LCD is 2.5in; a very small optical viewfinder is also integrated into the body (this is very difficult to use, but does offer an alternative if you're trying to save battery power or dislike LCDs).
Apart from the viewfinder and LCD, the back of the DSC-W120 is crammed with dials and buttons. The shooting mode is changed using the central dial, which is well weighted and can easily be controlled with a thumb. Other buttons allow plenty of advanced features to be altered – thankfully they're easily labelled and intuitive.
A sensor that can capture 7.2 effective megapixels – lower than equivalently priced competitors – provides the backbone for the DSC-W120. The camera's lens is equivalent to 32-128mm in standard film. This translates to a 4x zoom: slightly longer than average. Optical image stabilisation is built-in and a nine-point autofocus with face detection allows portraits to be taken easily. There are a few novel features too, like the Smile Shutter, which automatically takes photos when subjects smile.
When compared to other compact digital cameras in its price range the DSC-W120 is slightly lacking in features. There's no digital red eye removal or photo filters like blurring, sharpening or 'fish-eye' warping, which are found on higher models like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150. Usually these features are unnecessary, but it would've been nice to include them.
On its first start-up once the battery was inserted, the DSC-W120 took 8sec until it was ready to take a picture. This is exceptionally long, but subsequent start-ups of the camera only take around 1.5sec — pretty average for a compact camera. Shut-down is equally quick and takes just 2sec.
In normal shooting mode with the flash disabled, the DSC-W120 is able to take photos every 1.3sec. When the flash is on, however, this is more than doubled at around 2.8sec. Burst shooting is worse than average, with only one frame captured per second — a far cry from even a budget model like Kodak's Easyshare V1073, which can handle 3fps.
When it comes to actually taking photos, the DSC-W120 performs well. We ran several test photos through the Imatest photo analysis suite to determine how they rated. This Sony unit is a solid performer, and stacks up well against its competition.
Pictures generally look crisp and well focused, with accurate neutral colours. A closer look at some photos reveals some compression artefacts, but they're unnoticeable during normal viewing and are acceptable for a camera of this size and price point.
The DSC-W120's low-light performance is quite good. Image noise is undetectable in ISO 400 and under, but switching to any higher modes introduces noticeable grain that obscures finer details. ISO 800 is slightly fuzzy but still acceptable for small prints. ISO 1600 and 3200 settings are also available, although they obliterate image detail, especially in shadows and dark areas.
Despite being slightly short of advanced features, the Sony DSC-W120 is a decent choice. Its performance is on par with other cameras in its category, and its wide range of colour choices should suit a fashion-conscious consumer.
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