Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W510 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W510

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Typical Price: $149.00
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fairly stylish for the price. Reasonable macro performance. Facebook photographers won't find too many image quality issues.

The Bad Terrible LCD screen. Very pronounced barrel distortion. Crunchy, over-processed images. Sweep panorama is slow.

The Bottom Line If you have a limited budget or need a cheap camera for a gift, there are lots of better options than the W510.

6.8 Overall

Design and features

Every brand has a cheap little camera to start off each year's crop, and more often than not they lack a certain desirability. Sure, the W510 fits the bill on price (just AU$149, perfect for that impulse buy) but will it leave you hankering for more bang for your buck?

Glancing at the camera specifications, things get off to a promising start. A 4x optical zoom, opening up to a maximum aperture range of f/2.8-5.9, and sweep panorama built-in which puts it on par with more expensive Sony compacts. It uses a 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor, it's slim and fits perfectly in a pocket at 1.9cm deep. It has a range of shooting modes, from intelligent automatic, program, scene modes and steady shot for reducing blur.

Things take a turn for the worse when inspecting the LCD screen, which at 2.7 inches is grainy and low resolution. Given the price of this camera, we're not expecting marvels but the quality and colour accuracy is just awful. Unfortunately, there's no optical viewfinder like that found on entry-level compacts of old, meaning the screen is the only way you can construct images.

Tiny buttons seem to be a mainstay of Sony cameras whatever the price and the W510 is no exception. There's a plastic zoom toggle at the rear, close to the mode switch to alternate between still, sweep panorama or video mode. Video recording is only VGA or QVGA resolution though, no HD here.

Connectivity is via a single AV-out port at the side. Running on a Lithium-ion battery, the W510 also takes SD cards and Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • Shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Sony W5100.9
  • Canon A22000.5

Sony rates the battery life for the W510 at 220 shots.

Image quality

The W510 loves to play around with its exposures, and definitely not in a good way. Give this camera any opportunity to over-expose in bright situations and it definitely will. Having said that, in a rather ironic fashion, the W510 produces its best images in sunny and well-lit situations. It also does surprisingly well at macro shots, too. Colours are definitely over-saturated, with blues particularly being pumped up to the extreme.

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