The W130 performed quickly in our lab tests, with the exception of its flash, which took a long time to recycle. After a 1.8-second wait from power-on to first shot, the camera could capture a new picture once every 1.4 seconds with the onboard flash turned off. With the flash enabled, however, that wait doubled to 2.8 seconds. The shutter feels pleasantly responsive, lagging only 0.4 second with our high-contrast target and 1 second with our low-contrast target. In continuous shooting mode, the W130 captured 15 full-resolution shots in 7.5 seconds for a respectable rate of 2 frames per second.
Pictures taken with the W130 look good, though noise and softness can hinder picture quality and limit printability for photos taken at ISO 800 or higher. At lower sensitivity levels, fine details appear clearly, despite some slight softening around the edges of pictures. Noise, and Sony's noise reduction, begins to lower sharpness noticeably at ISO 400, though colors stay vibrant and the effect on prints is minimal. Noise becomes prominent at ISO 800, and at ISO 1600 grain consumes the picture. At the camera's maximum of ISO 3200, photos look like they were painted onto felt, with heavy fuzz ruining all fine lines. The W130's lens showed just the slightest amount of pincushion distortion (bending toward the center of the frame) at the telephoto end, but wide-angle shots have noticeable barrel distortion. The camera's automatic white balance does a good job of neutralizing colors in fluorescent or incandescent lighting, though it leaves a subtle warmth to the latter. Our extremely yellow tungsten lights flummoxed the system, however, that's not out of the ordinary even for much more expensive cameras.
With a quick shutter and a shiny, attractive shell, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 makes a very good pocket point-and-shoot camera. Its 4x lens gives it a slightly longer reach than most other compact cameras in its price range, and its onboard editing and slide show features are helpful when you want to tweak and share your shots. Its photos aren't quite as sharp as they could be, but they're more than suitable for respectable (8 inch x 10 inch) prints, e-mailing, and posting on the Web.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)