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

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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5 min read

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.

sony-cyber-shot-dsc-w200-digital-camera-compact-12-1-mpix-4-x-optical-zoom-carl-zeiss-flash-15-mb-blue.jpg
7.2

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220

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.

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.

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.

The W220's photo quality is good, particularly at ISO 200 and below. Viewed at full size, there's off-color noise visible at all ISOs, but it's least noticeable at lower ISOs. Photos are still good at ISO 400, but soften a bit from noise reduction. Sharpness and detail decrease rapidly above ISO 400, but color remains fairly consistent. ISO 800 is usable for small prints, but everything above that is noisy and smeary. If you're planning to make prints that large, use plenty of light and keep the ISO as low as possible. Center sharpness and detail on the W220 is very good. However, it drops off to the sides, making the edges and corners of photos look very soft. A certain amount of purple fringing is to be expected, but the W220 was above average to the point where it's clearly visible in prints above 4x6 inches. Lastly, colors, while not quite accurate, are nice and look natural.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 offers a satisfying shooting experience for its sub-$180 price. The W290 is still the better deal, but if you don't mind a somewhat shorter, narrower lens, slightly smaller LCD, and only VGA movie capture, the W220 will save you $70.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)
Typical shot-to-shot time
Shutter lag (dim)
Shutter lag (typical)
Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS
1.4
3.2
2.1
0.7
0.5
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220
1.6
2.7
1.7
0.7
0.5
Kodak EasyShare M1093 IS
2.8
1.4
1.2
1
0.5
Nikon Coolpix S230
3.5
3.3
3
1
0.5
Pentax Optio P70
2.5
4
3.9
1
0.5

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

sony-cyber-shot-dsc-w200-digital-camera-compact-12-1-mpix-4-x-optical-zoom-carl-zeiss-flash-15-mb-blue.jpg
7.2

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Image quality 6