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Sony Cybershot DSC-W130 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 26/06/2008
Rating: Recommended
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Introduction: Announced on the 23rd of January 2008, the Sony Cybershot DSC-W130 is one of Sony's latest W series compact digital cameras, and is the cheapest Sony available with optical image stabilisation. The camera features an 8 megapixel sensor, a 4x optical zoom lens, a 2.5" screen that works in the sun, an optical viewfinder and a VGA video mode. The Sony Cybershot DSC-W130 is available from around £130 which makes it great value for money. The camera is enclosed in a metal body and is available in black, silver, or pink. The camera measures approx. 8.8 cm x 2.3 cm x 5.7 cm (excluding protrusions), and weighs approx. 123g. excluding battery and memory card.

Sony have this to say about the camera:

"Get it all from one powerful point and shoot. The DSC-W130 Cyber-shot® digital camera delivers Smile Shutter technology for automatically capturing smiles as they happen and lets you share them beautifully in HD. You can expect stunning detail, thanks to 8.1 megapixel resolution and a Carl Zeiss® 5x optical zoom lens. Plus, Sony's Face Detection technology controls focus, exposure, and color on up to eight individual faces, resulting in more accurate, natural skin tones. Whether displayed on the 2.5" LCD screen or your HDTV, the DSC-W130 conveys your vision with precision and style."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Canon Powershot SX100 IS)

Front view - camera off.

Front view - camera on, flash, microphone, optical viewfinder, LED illuminator, lens.

Top: Speaker, power, shutter release, strap loop.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.

Size comparison.

Size comparison.

Size compared to Canon Powershot A590 IS.

Specifications / Features:

  • 8.1 Megapixels 1/2.5" Super HAD™ CCD Sensor
  • 4x optical zoom lens (32-128mm)
  • Super SteadyShot® optical image stabilization
  • 2.5" LCD Display (115K pixels)
  • Face Detection, Smile shutter
  • Exposure bracketing
  • ISO : Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200
  • MPEG VX Fine (640x480 at 30fps) (MPEG VX Fine requires Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media)
  • HD Output : Yes (1080i)
  • Red-Eye Reduction : Yes
  • 4cm Macro mode
  • Scenes: Smile Shutter, Beach, High Sensitivity, Landscape, Snow, Soft Snap, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, and Fireworks
  • Histogram available: In playback and record
  • Optical viewfinder: Yes
  • Manual WB: No

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • NP-BG1 rechargeable battery 3.6V, 960 mAh
  • BC-CSG battery charger
  • A/V and USB multi-connector cables
  • Wrist strap
  • Software CD-ROM
  • 1 year warranty
  • Note: No Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media or adaptors are included. (15mb built in)

Average box contents - a large memory card would be nice, as would a case and is recommended purchases.

Menu system: The menu system is initially a little confusing - with the menu button providing access to a number of photo shooting settings in photo mode, and a home button giving access to all menu options (for example playback, slideshow, setup etc). From the menu button you can then go into another menu to alter more advanced shooting options. After a short while it becomes fairly easy to use the menus, and the playback menu has some interesting and fun features - the retouch menu lets you do all the normal things like correct for red-eye and trim the pictures, but it also lets you add effects such as apply unsharp mask, soft focus, partial colour, fisheye lens, cross filter, radial blur, and retro (lomo-esque effect with darkened / blurred corners).

Picture Size / Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (8m, 5m, 3m, VGA), and aspect ratio (4:3, 3:2 at 7mp, 16:9+ at 6mp, 16:9 at 2mp), but doesn't let you choose how much compression is applied to the images. Higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended, unless you're prepared to sacrifice image size to fit more pictures in memory. There is a very good choice of image sizes and aspect ratios.

Bottom - Battery (NP-BG1, 3.6v, 3.4Wh, 960mAh) and Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo memory card, USB/AV connector, metal tripod mount.

Battery usage: Battery life is rated at 370 shots - however I was only able to take 235 shots before the battery went flat, this is disappointing considering the claims.

Memory cards: A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended. I would recommend, at a bare minimum, a 1gb memory card and preferably a 2gb memory card, or larger. The larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. You can use Sony Memory Stick Pro DUO cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Sony Cybershot W130:

Find the latest prices for Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo™ memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £15, 2gb (2000mb): £15, 4gb (4000mb): £26
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera is fairly quick to switch on and take photos, from off, to taking a photo in 2.0 seconds. Focusing seemed quick, except in very low light - this takes a little longer to focus depending on the subject. The playback mode is very quick. The camera shutter response seemed instant when pre-focused responding in 0.1 seconds or less - and shot to shot time was fairly quick, with a delay of around 1.5 seconds between shots without flash. The flash recharge time was slow allowing a shot to be taken every 3.2 - 3.4 seconds. Continuous shooting is quite good offering 2 fps for around 20 frames at the highest resolution until there is some slowdown. The cameras menus seemed quick.

Back - 2.5" screen, optical viewfinder, zoom control, mode dial, menu, home, 4-way controller, with middle OK button, play and slideshow buttons.

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, especially in the AUTO mode or Easy mode and has a number of scene modes that helps get good shots. The face detection and smile shutter can help capture some great photos of people smiling. The controls on the back of the camera are quite straightforward, and it's easy to switch modes using the clear mode dial. The menus are responsive and are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are fairly easy to access, mainly thanks to the large screen, and a lot of the options can be accessed using the buttons on the back. It's also easy to see when photos are in focus. The screen is easy to see in bright sunlight.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The layout of the buttons and controls are good, with the most commonly used options reachable with your right hand. The zoom control and shutter release is good, although could be better, as the shutter release seems a little small sometimes. The mode dial is positioned well making it easy to switch modes with your thumb, and the menu button gives quick access to your favourite settings. I thought the camera felt good for a compact camera, although there is very little in the way of a hand grip at the front of the camera and I would recommend the use of the wrist strap. The camera feels well made, and quite robust. The camera is quite easy to hold despite the small size, fits very easily into pockets, and looks good, with a premium styled body available in a number of colours (black, silver, or pink). The buttons can sometimes seem a little bit small.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Sony Cybershot W130 Sample Photo Gallery!


Heather and Flower (ISO400) Flash photo (ISO400)

Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is almost no red-eye in the photo. It has a fairly good flash, and copes fairly well with group photos, and there is little red-eye in group photos. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was quite high, however noise was acceptable, and better results may be possible by using the lowest ISO setting, especially if the subject is close to the camera. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time in low-light, although struggled in very dark situations. There is an LED illuminator that helps focus in low light.

ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 100 - ISO3200), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, ISO3200).

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops, viewable at 100%, from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 8 megapixel Canon Powershot A590 IS, and 12 megapixel Fujifilm FinePix F100fd.

Sony Cybershot W130 (8mp) Canon Powershot A590 IS (8mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Sony Cybershot W130 on the left, Canon Powershot A590 IS in the middle, Fujifilm FinePix F100fd on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.

Sony Cybershot W130 (8mp) Canon Powershot A590 IS (8mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)
ISO64 - NA ISO80 - Actual Pixels ISO80 - Actual Pixels
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1s, Nightmode)
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels ISO3200 - NA ISO3200 - Actual Pixels

Noise results: The Sony features lower noise than the Canon, and has useable images upto ISO400 / ISO 800 - after this images lack colour and noise can dramatically reduce detail in the images. The Canon has the highest noise of the three, however images are useable upto ISO400 and tend to keep good detail - after this noise is excessive and detail is lost. The Fuji has some of the smoothest images and has useable images upto ISO800 - after this images lose colour and noise dramatically reduces detail in the images, especially at ISO3200. It's worth noting that the F100fd often had to use a higher ISO setting to match the other camera's shutter speed, for example, where the Canon would shoot at 1/8th shutter speed at ISO400, the F100fd would have to be set to ISO800 to match the shutter speed.

Image Stabilisation: These cameras all feature real image stabilisation, such as optical image stabilisation in the Sony W130, and Canon A590, and anti-shake sensor in the Fuji F100fd. This feature helps reduce image blur due to low light or long zoom photography. Examples showing this feature switched on and off can be seen below.

Sony Cybershot W130 (8mp)
ISO400, 1/10
Canon Powershot A590 IS (8mp)
ISO400, 1/8
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)
ISO800, 1/6.5
Image stabilisation off Image stabilisation off Image stabilisation off
Image stabilisation on Image stabilisation on Image stabilisation on

With image stabilisation switched on the images are much sharper and clearer, and is much more likely to come out blur free, especially in low light, when using the zoom or when using slow shutter speeds. All camera's systems appear to work well, and it's good to see that this feature is becoming the norm with digital cameras.


Liverpool shops (ISO125) Flower Macro (ISO125)

Outside: The camera has quite rich, saturated colours. There was good detail, and the camera took a number of very pleasing images outside, with good contrast, with very little or no chromatic aberations and purple fringing. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artefacts are not easily seen, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting. Images are slightly soft, but nothing too worrying.

Zoom: This lens provides a 4x optical zoom starting at 32mm equivalent which is great for 'normal' everyday photography, zooming to 128mm allowing photos of distant objects. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. An example of digital zoom can be seen below, digital zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided.

Wide-angle 4x Optical Zoom Full Optical and Digital zoom

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally very good. Vignetting was not noticed in these photos. It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens makes very little noise, and gives you 8 steps between wide and telephoto - this gives good controls over how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing / Chromatic aberration was seen occassionally, although purple fringing was generally low.

Macro Lens Performance:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO125)

The camera can take maco photos where the subject is only 4cm away from the lens in macro mode! Colour and detail is very good, and there appears to be low noise at ISO125 and below. Unfortunately the camera does not have custom / manual white balance, so you will need to choose from one of the preset WB modes if AUTO WB doesn't do a very good job. More examples can be seen in the gallery.

Video mode: The camera features a good video mode - it records VGA videos at 30fps with sound as MPEG VX files and has good compression allowing you to record long videos. The video mode doesn't let you use the optical zoom whilst recording.


Image Quality: Image quality is generally very good - with excellent colour, and high levels of saturation, contrast and detail. Noise levels were low compared to other 8 megapixel compact cameras, and purple fringing was very low. There was some red eye in group photos. The camera did a good job focusing most of the time, even indoors, although occassionally struggled in very low light - focusing can be assisted by using the focus assist lamp. There was no noticable vignetting (darkened corners), nor did I notice barrel or pincushion distortion. There is a very good range of image sizes, and aspect ratio, although no choice of compression options. Auto white balance, metering and exposure seemed to be very good, however it's a shame there is no manual white balance as this would help with photography in artificial lighting. Images were slightly softer than some of the competition, and could benefit from sharpening. (8/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera features a compact metal body, available in a number of colours. It features things you think you may not need such a face detection, and smile shutter, but it turns out that these can be useful features. The camera has a good 2.5" screen that works well even in the sun, and the camera provides an optical viewfinder. The camera feels well built, and is fairly comfortable to hold. The camera is easy to use, thanks to numerous scene modes, and provides quick access to the most commonly used options. The layout of buttons and controls is very good.The camera speed is good, with an average switch on time, quick focusing time, excellent shutter response, quick playback mode, quick menus, and quick continuous shooting mode, although the flash recharge time was slightly sluggish. The camera has a wide range of features that should suit most people, such as face detection focus, red-eye reduction, numerous scene modes, good video mode, very good macro mode, a 4x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation, and smile shutter feature, etc. However the lack of some manual features such as manual white balance, could put some people off. It's also a shame that Sony insist on using their own, expensive, memory card format, especially since almost everyone else now use SD cards. (8.5/10)

Value for Money: The Sony Cybershot W130 from around £130, is very good value for money, priced competitively with other compact 8 megapixel digital cameras, and is one of the cheapest Sony digital cameras available with optical image stabilisation. It's slightly more expensive than the some other cameras, such as the similar specification Canon Powershot A590 IS, and you should also consider the fact that you will need to buy Sony memory which is also more expensive than SD memory. (8/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Sony Cybershot W130 is very "point and shoot" friendly - the camera produces great results in almost every situation - and provides features designed specifically for taking photos of friends and family with face detection and smile shutter technology. The camera has some more advanced features such as exposure bracketing, but unfortunately lacks manual white balance which can be useful for artificial lighting. Image quality is generally very good and the camera has a good success rate - with low noise levels and great colour - which is only let down by slightly soft images. Overall the camera offers a good range of features that should suit anyone looking for a compact point and shoot camera, all at a price that offers good value for money. Recommended.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W130 Rating: Recommended (8.2/10)
Available for £130 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Very good image quality - excellent colour
  • 4x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation
  • Excellent 2.5" screen - works well in bright sunlight
  • Compact metal body
  • Very good macro mode
  • Good value for money
  • Quick performance - 2fps continuous shooting
  • Focus assist lamp
  • Face detection focus
  • Smile shutter technology
  • Some advanced features such as exposure bracketing (upto +/- 1.0)
  • Optical viewfinder
  • Low purple fringing

What I don't like:

  • Average battery life
  • Uses expensive Sony Pro Duo Memory cards (when will all manufacturers use SD?)
  • Lacks manual / custom white balance
  • Slightly soft images

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Sony Cybershot W130 Sample Photo Gallery.

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