Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220

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The Good Above-average feature set; nice design.

The Bad No optical zoom while recording video; photo quality drops off above ISO 200; above-average chromatic aberration.

The Bottom Line Sony's careful feature trimming results in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220: a well-rounded pocket camera for less than $180.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 6

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 subtly makes you give up features to get below the crucial $200 price point. For example, the W220's linemate, the W290, has a longer, wider lens, larger LCD, HD movie capture, and a few other extras pushing its street price over $200. But all the differences are slight enough that there's a good chance you'll miss your $70 more than the features. Overall, the W220 is a well-rounded compact camera with decent photo quality and performance for its price. The W290, however, is worth the extra cash if you can afford it.

Key specs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220
Price (MSRP) $179
Dimensions (WHD) 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 5.2 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution; Viewfinder 2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots; None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 4x, f2.8-5.8, 30-120mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/MP4 (MPEG-4)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,000x3,000 pixels/640x480 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Mechanical and electronic
Battery type, rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 370 shots

Available in silver, black, blue, and pink, the W220 doesn't stray from Sony's typical W-series Cyber-shot appearances. It's an attractive camera in a pocketable, lightweight body dressed in brushed metal and plastic chrome trim, which looks nice, but makes it a bit slick to hold. The crowded Mode dial is set into the body to prevent accidentally changing modes, but exposed just enough on its right side to make moving the dial easy. Above the dial is a small zoom rocker, and below is a Playback button followed by a directional pad for navigating menus in addition to controlling flash, macro, display, and timer settings.

Below the directional pad are Sony's slightly confusing Home and Menu buttons found on previous models. This puts context-sensitive shooting controls under the Menu button, while the Home button puts you in a different menu system for other shooting options as well as stuff like date and time, the capability to format Memory Sticks, and playback options. Hopefully, Sony will eventually switch over all its cameras to a single-button system like on the W290 and the H20.

General shooting options Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3200
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, 2, and 3, Incandescent, Flash, Manual
Recording modes Auto, Easy, Program Auto, High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, SCN, Movie
Focus 9 points, Center-weighted AF, Spot AF, Semi-manual (1.0m, 3.0m, 7.0m, unlimited distance)
Metering Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Color effects Normal, Vivid, Sepia, Black & White
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 100 photos

As mentioned earlier, the Mode dial on the W220 is crowded with 10 tiny icons. Three of the options are different degrees of automatic modes. Program Auto gives you the most control with access to ISO, exposure, white balance, focus, and metering. Sony's Intelligent Auto picks from eight scene types (branded iSCN) and turns on face detection and image stabilization. Sony's iSCN can be set to Auto or Advanced, the difference being that in difficult lighting the camera will automatically take two shots with different settings so you have a better chance of getting a usable photo. Then there's the Easy mode that takes away all but a couple basic shooting options. The rest are scene modes, access to a list of more specialized scene modes, and a VGA movie mode. (There's no use of the optical zoom while recording video, by the way.) Worth mentioning is that despite the W220's lower stature, it has higher-end features like Sony's Dynamic Range Optimizer for improving shadow detail and exposure bracketing that will take three photos, one at the exposure you select and then two more at plus and minus 0.3EV, 0.7EV, or 1.0EV.

For its class, the W220 is actually a fairly quick camera, though its shutter lag in bright conditions could be better. It takes 0.5 second to go from press of the shutter to capture in good lighting. However, its dim performance is better at 0.7 second. From off to first shot is a respectable 1.6 seconds, while its shot-to-shot time is an equally good 1.7 seconds. Turning on the flash only adds 1 second to that time. The W220's burst performance was fairly fast, too, at 1.7 frames per second.