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Sony have this to say about the camera:
"The highly specified 7.2 effective Megapixel Cyber-shot W7 with an superb large 2.5 LCD screen, 3x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom lens, Real Imaging Processor and a host of photo features all packed in a strong yet lightweight silver aluminium body."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: It's
quite compact and made out of silver metal.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium sized compact 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Decent box contents, it's very good to see rechargable batteries and a charger is supplied, although with the camera's built in 32mb of memory, you will need to buy a larger memory card.
Battery usage: Up to 380 pictures with the supplied 2100mah Ni-mh batteries. Battery life seemed better than average, and the figure for the included batteries is very good.
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the rotating dial.
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen resolution with 115,000 pixels is not as good as many others, although it updates smoothly and the colours appear accurate. There is a live histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: Quite typically the optical viewfinder is quite small.
Menu options are: Exposure (shown above, shows Live Histogram as you adjust this), Focus (Multi, Center, 0.5m, 1m, 3m, 7m, Infinity), Metering mode (Multi, Center, Spot), White Balance (Auto, Sun, Cloud, Flourescant, Candescant, Flash), ISO, Quality (Fine, Standard), Record mode (Normal, Burst, Multi-burst), Flash level, P. Effect (Black and White, Sepia), Saturation / Contrast / Sharpness (+, Normal, -), Setup. Multi-Burst mode adds another menu item, allowing you to set the Interval).
Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) AF mode, Digital Zoom, Date/Time, Red Eye Reduction, AF Illuminator, Auto Review, Enlarged Icon, Format, LCD Backlight (Bright, Normal, Dark), Beep, Language, Initialize, File Number, USB Connect, Video out, Clock Set.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is quick up to 5x. Playback mode displays photo settings, exposure, date and time, as well as a histogram.
Playback menu options: Protect, DPOF, Print, Slideshow, Resize, Rotate, Divide, Setup.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 32mb memory provided with the camera:
You can fit a small number of images on the built in memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, although there is a slightly limited choice regarding image compression.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - 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. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Sony Cybershot W7:
Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos - the focus assist lamp helps the camera focus in darker indoor conditions, although the Sony W7's low light focusing seemed slower than the IXUS 700. The screen updates are quick and smooth (even in low-light). The playback mode is also quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 5x. The camera shutter response seemed quick when pre-focused - and shot to shot time was also noticably quick. The flash recharge time also seemed quick.
Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive and easy to read. The camera is compact and fits in (baggy) trouser pockets. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a basic mode for simple point and shoot operation, as well as scene modes to help beginners.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt quite good ergonomically, although it felt quite heavy and seemed a little bulky / chunky. The hand grip on the front was okay although not the most comfortable. The zoom control seemed decent.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie 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 DSC-W7 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo. It has a decent flash, and copes well with group photos. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time, although occassionally struggled in low-light, or seemed to focus slightly off the main subject. Red-eye didn't seem to be huge a problem, although it was noticable in a few photos.
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, and manual ISO settings (ISO100, 200, 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.
Noise levels appear low at ISO100, although some is still visible. At ISO200 noise becomes more noticable but is still acceptable, at ISO400 and above noise seems high and detail is being lost due to noise reduction. In the full size version of the ISO400 test version it's possible to see random black dots caused by noise.
Outside, again the camera had good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, although some images were soft. Noise seemed fairly well controlled. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images. White balance seems a bit off in the shops photo, and the sky is burnt-out as well.
Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 2x digital zoom (Precision) - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the 3x optical zoom and 2x digital zoom is capable of.
Exposure / Metering on the photos of the clock towers seems a bit poor (with the overly dark clock tower) - this happened with the Sony Cybershot S60 / S80 as well - this could probably be avoided by changing the metering mode.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are about 8 steps between wide and telephoto! This gives you good control on how you frame your subject.
Other Image Quality issues: I did notice purple fringing in some photos, i.e. the clock tower photos, however it is still quite low.
Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode - you can use the macro mode at wide angle, all the way to telephoto. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 6cm away from the subject from the front of the lens.
The macro mode is good - colour and detail is good, and the camera allows you to get fairly close to the subject. Images did seem a bit soft - and benefitted from sharpening. The lack of custom white balance meant this photo turned out with a slight yellow cast.
Movie: 640 x 480 at 30fps with sound with a Memory Stick Pro, alternatively 640 x 480 at 25fps with sound is available using the built in memory. The movie is recorded as an .MPG file. Unfortunately you can't use the optical zoom whilst recording videos. The quality of the movie(s) is quite good, colour is good, the camera also does a good job in low-light. The frame rate is good.
Summary: The 7
megapixel Sony Cybershot W7 is a good digital camera. The easy to use
camera is capable of good results, however you may have to work with the
image(s) to get the best out of them - for example to produce sharper
images, or alter exposure etc. The camera gives you a lot of control through
manual settings, but is equally suited to beginners. The macro mode is
good. The camera is very good value for money at around £235, and
whilst the camera is good, due to the slight image quality issues I had
with the W7 (soft, exposure, white balance, blown highlights) I would
be much happier recommending the Fuji
FinePix F10 to my friends and family over this camera.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have
a look at the test photos in the new