The 12.2-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 is noteworthy for introducing Sony's '3D sweep panorama' functionality to the Cyber-shot range of compact cameras. Sony also claims that it offers dSLR-like image quality. You can expect to pay around £250 for the WX5.
One lens, three dimensions
The sweep-panorama feature allows the user to capture an elongated image by panning the camera in one continuous arc. The resulting image can be either 2D, as on previous Cyber-shot cameras, or three-dimensional, if shooting in the 3D mode. You'll need to view the results on a 3D TV or monitor, using 3D glasses, to notice the effect through. Unlike Fujifilm's 3D-capable , the WX5's rear screen only displays images in 2D.
Although images taken using this feature occasionally suffer from jarring overlaps, particularly if subjects were moving through the frame as you panned the camera, the 3D effect is impressive on a big screen. The depth really draws you into the picture. This is all the more impressive given that the WX5 is a single-lens device, unlike the marginally more bulky FinePix Real 3D W3, which has twin lenses.
Another new feature introduced with the WX5 is 'sweep multi-angle'. This shoots a high-speed burst of 15 frames, presenting a final image with a 3D-like effect on the camera's LCD screen. You have to tip the camera from side to side to get the 3D effect. We found it unsatisfying, and were hard-pressed to distinguish a 3D from a 2D image. But you can, again, plug the WX5 into a 3D TV to view a true 3D image.
Even if you dismiss the WX5's 3D capabilities as a gimmick, there's no denying that the camera is impressively small and well-made. It measures 92 by 52 by 22mm, and weighs about 130g. The camera is attractive too, thanks to its brushed-metal face plate.
Pictures and videos are composed via the 2.8-inch LCD display, which is brighter and noticeably clearer than usual, thanks to its whopping, 460,800-pixel resolution. With an optically stabilised focal range equivalent to 24-120mm in 35mm terms, the lens can take in landscapes, as well as pull distant subjects closer.
The WX5 powers up in around 2 seconds. With a half press of the shutter-release button, focus and exposure is determined in a second. A full-resolution JPEG is written to memory -- either an SD or Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo card -- in around 2 to 3 seconds, which is average for the camera's class.