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Sample photos: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W330

Check out an examination of photo quality for the compact sub-$170 14-megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W330.

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Joshua_Goldman.jpg

Joshua Goldman

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1 of 5 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

Photos from the W330 are good to very good depending on how critical you are about picture quality from a $170 camera. There's a noise/graininess that's visible at all ISO sensitivities when images are viewed at full size. However, it doesn't have much of an impact below ISO 200. Go to higher ISOs and you start to really lose fine detail and subjects get fuzzy and lack definition. At small sizes photos up to ISO 800 are usable, though. Colors start shifting above that, and combined with the noise and noise reduction, I just wouldn't count on using ISO 1,600 or 3,200.

Of course, the downside to all this is that despite having a 14-megapixel resolution, you won't be able to crop in that much.

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2 of 5 Joshua Goldman/CNET
Here you can see the difference between ISO 80 and ISO 400. The higher ISO photo definitely looks grainier, and you lose detail in the hair and beard. It's not horrible, though, so for 4x6 prints and Web use, you should be OK to ISO 400.
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3 of 5 Joshua Goldman/CNET
The W330 does well in Macro mode, which is fully automatic. It's able to focus on subjects approximately 1.5 inches from the lens.
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4 of 5 Joshua Goldman/CNET
As for the wide-angle lens, Sony keeps the barrel distortion in check (top) and there's no sign of pincushioning at the long end of the zoom, either (bottom). The amount of purple fringing is below average for a camera in its class. Center sharpness is fairly good on the W330, but subjects off to the sides--especially in the corners--are noticeably softer.
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5 of 5 Joshua Goldman/CNET
Colors are bright and natural and reasonably accurate, though blues seem to be a bit pumped up. The auto white balance appears a little warm, as does the Flash setting. Exposure is generally good leaning toward underexposed, but highlights are prone to clipping.

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