Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120 review:

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120

In our lab tests, the W120 performed on par with or slightly worse than the 8-megapixel W130. After a 1.8-second wait from power-on to capturing its first JPEG, the camera could capture a new photo once every 1.3 seconds with the onboard flash turned off. With the flash turned on, that wait more than doubled to 2.7 seconds. The shutter felt quick, lagging just a hair longer than the W130 with our high-contrast target; the W120's shutter lag measured half a second compared to the W130's lagged 0.45 second. With our low-contrast target both cameras performed admirably, each lagging just one second. Unfortunately, the W120 didn't fare well in burst mode, capturing 12 7-megapixel photos in 12 seconds for a rate of one frame per second. The W130 scored double that rate, recording 15 8-megapixel shots in 7.5 seconds.

The W120's photos look crisp, and colors appear neutral and accurate. Close inspection reveals some image artifacts, but they're within an acceptable range for a camera of this class. Noise stays low up to ISO 400, and then noticeable grain begins to develop and starts to obscure finer details, such as small text and the textures of objects. Shots taken at ISO 800 look fuzzy but remain quite usable for both online use and small prints. From ISO 1600 to the camera's maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200, noise obscures or destroys most fine details and the majority of shadow detail is obliterated. While they don't make good prints, these high-sensitivity shots still might be useful for e-mailing or uploading to the Web under the right circumstances.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120 is a fine compact camera. Its quick performance, good picture quality, and surprisingly robust feature set make it a solid choice in the budget category. However, the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 dwarfs it in nearly every way. For about $30 more, you can get a camera with a higher resolution, quicker performance, and many onboard editing tools. If you're committed to a $200 price tag or just really want a blue camera, the W120 serves its purpose well. If you can spend the extra few dollars, though, make the upgrade to the W130.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Nikon Coolpix S51c

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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