Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370

The W370's photo quality is good to very good, losing points because its low-light quality isn't as good as the less expensive W350's is. In the ISO 80-200 range, photos you take with the camera look better than expected for its features and price. However, if you view them at 100 percent, the pictures have a decidedly digital look to them and might appear soft and lack fine detail. Photo prints at 8x10 inches or smaller looked nice, natural, and relatively sharp. Even larger prints up to 13x19 inches are fine as long as you're not overly critical on image quality. Higher ISO photos--those at and above ISO 400--are where this camera falls apart in comparison to the W350. The W350's color performance was consistent from ISO 80 to 3,200 and while its noise suppression made subjects look painterly, the photos were still usable for small prints when sensitivities above ISO 400 were used. With the W370, these higher ISOs yield poor results with noticeable shifts in color and a lot of noise.

Ideally, a 14-megapixel resolution should buy you a fair amount room for cutting down your images. If you're one to crop in a lot on subjects and then want to create 13x19-inch prints, you probably won't be happy with this camera--or any other current sub-$230 compact.

Despite not having a wide-angle lens, the W370's images have some barrel distortion when taken at the lens' widest position. Having a slight pincushion distortion when the lens is extended is common, but there was no sign of it from the W370. The camera's center sharpness is pretty good, though my test camera is softer on the left side, particularly in the upper corner. The amount of fringing around high-contrast subjects is average to above average for its class. At small sizes, it's easy to overlook, but anything larger than a 4x6, and your eye will likely be drawn to it.

The W370's color performance is very good and reasonably accurate. Reds tended to look oversaturated, but otherwise subjects looked bright and natural. The camera's exposure is generally good, but blown highlights are frequent. Its white balance is also good.

The camera's video quality is respectable, too, on par with an HD minicamcorder. You can use the 7x zoom while you're recording, but the lens movement is jerky and you will hear the lens motor on your recordings--though this is common for compact cameras.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370 is a decent camera for those interested in getting the most specs for the least money. However, Sony makes trade-offs to get the low price such as using its lowest-quality lens and a less capable image processor than its Bionz Engine. As is the case with most models in its class, the W370 is at its best in bright conditions for portraits and landscapes. Regardless of the resolution stamped on its body, the photos will generally not be great viewed at their full size from a foot away on your computer screen. However, they will look fine on prints at 8x10 inches or smaller, when viewed on a TV from a proper distance or when viewed on your favorite photo-sharing site.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Longer 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)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350
Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
Nikon Coolpix S640
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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