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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 review:

A great little pocket camera

For its size and price, the WX50 is a fast performer. From off to first shot is 1.5 seconds with a shot-to-shot time of 1 second. Turning on the flash slows the camera down to 4 seconds between shots. Its shutter lag time -- how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed -- is excellent at 0.2 second in bright lighting and 0.4 second in dim conditions with less subject contrast; in very low light it goes up to 0.9 second.

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The camera's burst-shooting mode is capable of up to 10 frames per second. However, this burst shooting sets focus and exposure with the first shot, and once you've fired, you're stuck waiting for the camera to save the photos, generally a second or two per photo.

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Design and features
Design is usually one of Sony's strong suits with its point-and-shoots, but it's one of this camera's few weaknesses. It's not that it's an ugly camera or it's too big and heavy; it's actually incredibly small for how powerful it is. And that's the problem: many of the controls are very small and several of them are flat and flush with the body, including the power button. Plus, the mode dial-directional pad combo is slightly frustrating to use and could accidentally move you out of your chosen shooting mode if you're not careful with your thumb.

Key specs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50
Price (MSRP) $199.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.8 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.8 inch
Weight (with battery and media) 4.1 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 640K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 5x, f2.6-6.3, 25-125mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/AVCHD (.MTS); MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MP4)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,920x1,080 at 60fps (interlaced; 24Mbps)
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 240 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes; via USB to AC adapter or computer
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC; Memory Stick Pro Duo; Eye-Fi Connected support
Bundled software PlayMemories Home (Windows); Music Transfer (Windows, Mac)

There are a couple other aspects of the design to be aware of. For Sony's 2012 Cyber-shots that use Exmor R sensors, including the WX50, the camera's battery is charged in the camera via USB. You can charge it by connecting to a computer or the included wall adapter. It's a standard Micro-USB port, so cables are easy to come by. But, if you purchase extra batteries (shot counts are good, but not great) you'll probably want to buy an external charger as well, or just plan ahead.

Like all of Sony's higher-end cameras, the DSC-WX50 has a lot of shooting options that take advantage of its fast Exmor R sensors and Bionz image processors. For those who like to leave it in auto, there are three options: Easy, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto. Easy mode takes away all options except for image size (large or small) and enlarges onscreen text. Intelligent Auto picks from 10 scene types and turns on face detection, dynamic range optimization, and image stabilization. Superior Auto takes Intelligent Auto and adds three multishot modes: Handheld Twilight, Anti Motion Blur, and Backlight Correction HDR. While they all work very well, the Superior Auto mode performs best when your subject is completely still.

General shooting options Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent white, Fluorescent natural white, Fluorescent day white, Incandescent, Flash, Custom
Recording modes Easy, Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto, Program, 3D Still Image, SCN, Background Defocus, Intelligent Sweep Panorama, Movie
Focus modes Multi AF, Center AF, Spot AF, Face Detection (Adult, Child)
Macro 1.9 inches (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)
Metering modes Multi, Center, Spot
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 10 shots

These multishot modes are also selectable as distinct modes in Scene options, along with 13 others such as Soft Skin, Gourmet, Pet, and an Underwater option for use with an optional marine housing.

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There is a Program mode if you want to take more control over your results, but you won't find any semimanual or manual shooting modes; the WX50 is really made for automatic snapshots. That said, Sony gives you a lot of extra auto shooting options, including nine picture effects such as miniature/tilt-shift, HDR, high-contrast black-and-white, 3D stills, and easy pan-and-shoot panoramas.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 gives great value for the money. If you can, I recommend trying it out before you buy; the controls would keep me from buying this camera because they made it less enjoyable to use. If they don't bother you, however, it's an excellent camera.

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