Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 (Black) review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 (Black)

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The Good The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 has lots of fun and useful shooting modes and fast shooting performance packed into a small body.

The Bad The WX10's photos are soft, smeary, and noisy when viewed at full size and its controls may be too small for some users.

The Bottom Line The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 has all the right features, but its photos aren't as sharp as the rest of the package.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 6

The Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 is somewhat of an oddball camera in the current Cyber-shot lineup. It could almost be an enthusiast compact or at least it's as near to one than any other small Sony point-and-shoot. That's mainly because it has a 7x, f2.4-5.9, 24-168mm Sony G lens (the highest-quality lens for Cyber-shots) and manual shooting options as well as more control over photo processing. That lens is brighter than most if not all 7x zoom cameras available, which potentially makes for better low-light performance. It also has the manufacturer's fast linear focus system that uses a magnetic coil instead of a mechanical gear to move the lens linearly, focusing in a straight back-and-forth motion and not rotationally.

The WX10 is considered a step up from Sony's WX9, which is geared more for simple snapshots, loaded with all automatic shooting options and featuring a 5x, f2.6-6.3, 25-125mm Carl Zeiss lens. But, despite the fuller feature set, the WX9 is the better deal and produces better photos.

Key specs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10
Price (MSRP) $279.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.9x2.1x0.9 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 5.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 2.8-inch LCD, 460K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 7x, f2.4-5.9, 24-168mm (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 Li-ion rechargeable, 360 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 Picture Motion Browser 5.5, PMB Portable 5.0 (Windows), PMB Portable 1.1 (Mac), Music Transfer

At small sizes, the WX10's photos are overly soft, even at its lowest sensitivity, ISO 100. When they're viewed full size, you can really see the lack of fine detail and noise, which just gets worse as higher ISOs. Noise reduction really kicks at ISO 800, which smears details and dulls colors. At ISO 1,600 and ISO 3,200 colors look more washed out and subjects appear painterly. This smeary, soft appearance makes their 16-megapixel resolution sort of a waste. Of course, if you never do any cropping or enlarging and only make small prints and view photos at normal screen sizes, the photos are good. However, because the WX10's overall results were not as good as Sony's other Exmor R-sensor cameras, it got a lower rating than models such as the WX9 and HX7V.

Oddly, it seems the lens--one of the main reasons to pick this camera--is somewhat to blame for the soft photos. It's not sharp in the center and gets noticeably softer at the edges and corners, which is disappointing given this camera's price and that it's a high-end Sony G lens.

The default Standard color mode produces bright, vivid colors, but they aren't terribly accurate. Most people will find them pretty pleasing, though. If you want more accurate colors, the WX10 does have a Real color setting as well as three other color modes in addition to Standard and adjustments for white balance, contrast, saturation, and sharpness. However, these things are not available in all shooting modes.

Movies captured by the WX10 are very good. The 60i frame rate and image stabilization make for some smooth movement, too. You will see some ghosting with fast-moving subjects, though, and things look a little oversharpened on occasion. It won't replace a full-fledged HD camcorder, but if you'd like a single device for capturing good photos and videos, this is a decent choice. The optical zoom does work while recording (though you will hear it moving in quiet scenes), and the stereo mic is a nice extra.

General shooting options Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent white, Fluorescent natural white, Fluorescent day white, Incandescent, Flash, Custom
Recording modes Easy, Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto, Program, Manual, 3D Still Image, SCN, 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
Color effects Standard, Vivid, Real, Sepia, B&W
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 10 shots

The WX10 is packed full of automatic and manual shooting options. For the most control you can use a Manual mode with control over aperture and shutter speed. It's limited to two aperture settings each at the wide and telephoto ends (using a neutral density filter); f2.4 and f7.1 for wide and f5.9 and f18 for telephoto. There are a few more sets of stops available through the zoom range, too. Shutter speeds are adjustable from 1/1,600 to 30 seconds. There are no aperture- and shutter-priority modes, but for more control without worrying about aperture and shutter speed you can use Program. That lets you control everything else including color modes, contrast, color saturation, and sharpness.

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--to shoot photos with the best possible settings.

Why not just leave it in Superior Auto? Multishot modes like these rapidly take photos and overlay them to help remove blur, correct exposure, and reduce noise. However, they don't work well with moving subjects and they require additional in-camera image processing so they take longer than a simple snapshot taken with Intelligent Auto and other single-shot modes. If there's a chance your subject might be moving--even slightly--while you're shooting I'd stick with Intelligent Auto. Also, these multishot modes plus 12 other standard scenes are available in the WX10's SCN mode so you can always pick the appropriate one when you need it. That said, Superior Auto does allow you to take full advantage of the camera's capabilities in an automatic mode.

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