If you tend to leave it in Auto mode, Sony's Intelligent Auto turned in reliable results, as it picks from eight scene types (branded iSCN) and turns on face detection and image stabilization. Sony's iSCN can be set to Auto or Advanced, the difference being that in difficult lighting the camera will automatically take two shots with different settings so you have a better chance of getting a good photo. There are three levels of high-speed full-resolution shooting, too, that all live up to Sony's performance claims. However, once the photos are shot you have to wait for them to be stored to the memory card--roughly 2 to 3 seconds for each photo taken. Also worth mentioning is that the WX1 has exposure bracketing that will take three photos, one at the exposure you select and then two more at plus and minus 0.3EV, 0.7EV, or 1.0EV.
Fast performance is not an issue for the WX1; it's one of the quickest cameras we've tested in its class. The wake-to-first-shot time is 1.5 seconds with a nearly identical shot-to-shot time of 1.7 seconds. Using the flash only bumps that time out to 2.3 seconds. Shutter lag in bright conditions is a scant 0.3 second; in dim lighting it's only 0.7 second. The camera has no continuous shooting mode, but its high-speed burst mode is capable of snapping off 9.6 frames per second at full resolution.
When it comes to photo quality, the WX1 is a tough camera to judge. Going strictly by what happens between ISO sensitivities, the camera is a fairly typical point-and-shoot; good up to ISO 200, but from ISO 400 and above, noise reduction mucks up fine details. This is mainly noticeable when pictures are viewed at 100 percent or when heavily cropped.
The WX1's consistent color performance across sensitivities up to ISO 1600 keeps them usable for 8x10 prints and smaller. Photos at ISO 3200 look washed out, but can be printed at 4x6 inches and smaller--assuming you're not terribly picky. There's some color noise/artifacts at all ISOs, including the lowest setting of ISO 160. If you're going to make poster-size prints and stare at them from a foot away, you're probably going to be disappointed with what you see.
The WX1 has impressive center sharpness, though photos soften up out to the sides. All in all, though, the lens on this camera is pretty great. There's surprisingly little barrel distortion considering how wide it is. There's no pincushioning at the lens's longest position, and I didn't see much in the way of chromatic aberration. Color, white balance, and exposure were all excellent from the WX1--nice, natural, and vibrant.
What it really comes down to with the WX1 is expectations. Just because Sony used a sensor found in its high-end camcorders and a lens based on those from its Alpha digital SLRs, should you expect excellent photo quality? It certainly sounds reasonable. But in the end the WX1 is still a point-and-shoot, capable of above average photos under challenging conditions where most other cameras in its class fail. It's a fun little camera to use, too.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.