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Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100 review: Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100

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Like the other models, I found the DSC-W100 to be an easy camera to learn and use, though the frequent trips into the menu system to change the metering scheme, the ISO speed, and the burst mode make it cumbersome to change these oft-used settings. The tiny controls complicate matters further.

6.8

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Acceptable snapshots; compact; easy to use; decent performance; better-than-average movie quality.

The Bad

Beyond ISO 80, photos look soft and smeary due to processing artifacts and noise.

The Bottom Line

The Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100 is a decent snapshot camera, but better choices are out there.
As the current top-of-the-line model in its Cyber Shot W series, Sony's Cyber Shot DSC-W100 shares almost everything with its siblings, the DSC-W70, the DSC-W50, and the DSC-W30: it uses the same ultracompact 6.7-ounce body , 38mm-to-114mm 3X zoom lens (35mm equivalent), and bright 2.5-inch LCD. The W100 ups the resolution to 8 megapixels, sports a textured finish on its metal front panel, and adds a manual-exposure mode, but ultimately isn't a much more compelling buy than the similar-performing W50, which costs between $50 and $100 less.

Sony's inclusion of a manual-exposure mode strikes me as an odd choice as well. Semimanual modes--program shift, shutter-priority, and aperture-priority--tend to be much easier to use and more practical for snapshooters. Furthermore, since the camera provides only two aperture choices for a given focal length, the DSC-W100's manual exposure is actually quite difficult to use.

One advantage the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100 has over the DSC-W70 is a sensor that's capable of shooting at ISO 80. Photos shot at this sensitivity level--and to a certain extent, at ISO 100--are relatively sharp with little noise and few processing artifacts. Beyond that, the aggressive noise-suppression algorithms kick in, blurring and smearing details. Photos print reasonably well to as large as 8x10, but they look a little soft and foggy. In addition to some distortion in the bottom corners at its wide angle, the lens also produces some cyan and magenta fringing on the sides, as well as purple fringing on high-contrast edges.

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A photo shot at ISO 320, 1/125 second--the choice made by the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100's automatic mode--looks OK when scaled down (top), but at actual size, you can see the artifacts (bottom).

When you toss the DSC-W100's movies into the picture, the camera suddenly looks a lot more appealing. Though you wouldn't want to play its standard-quality VGA captures at 100 percent, they look very good at QVGA (320x240). And its fine-quality movies look quite impressive played at actual size.

Despite being a solid shooter in good light, as well as performing strongly on movie capture, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100 can't match the value of less expensive, lower-resolution competitors such as its brother, the DSC-W50, nor can its photos match those of the low-noise Fujifilm FinePix F30 or the Canon PowerShot SD600.

Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000
3.5 
1.8 
0.3 
Canon PowerShot SD630
1.9 
1.4 
0.5 
Fujifilm FinePix V10
2.0 
1.5 
0.5 
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100
1.1 
1.6 
0.5 
Pentax Optio W10
3.6 
3.5 
0.7 
Olympus Stylus 810
3.0 
2.7 
0.7 
Note: Seconds

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Note: Frames per second

6.8

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W100

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Image quality 7