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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W510 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W510

If you have a limited budget or need a cheap camera for a gift, there are lots of better options than the W510.

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Lexy Savvides
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Lexy Savvides

Principal Video Producer

Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.

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3 min read

Design and features

Every brand has a cheap little camera to start off each year's crop, and more often than not they lack a certain desirability. Sure, the W510 fits the bill on price (just AU$149, perfect for that impulse buy) but will it leave you hankering for more bang for your buck?

Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-W510_1.jpg
6.8

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W510

The Good

Fairly stylish for the price. Reasonable macro performance. Facebook photographers won't find too many image quality issues.

The Bad

Terrible LCD screen. Very pronounced barrel distortion. Crunchy, over-processed images. Sweep panorama is slow.

The Bottom Line

If you have a limited budget or need a cheap camera for a gift, there are lots of better options than the W510.

Glancing at the camera specifications, things get off to a promising start. A 4x optical zoom, opening up to a maximum aperture range of f/2.8-5.9, and sweep panorama built-in which puts it on par with more expensive Sony compacts. It uses a 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor, it's slim and fits perfectly in a pocket at 1.9cm deep. It has a range of shooting modes, from intelligent automatic, program, scene modes and steady shot for reducing blur.

Things take a turn for the worse when inspecting the LCD screen, which at 2.7 inches is grainy and low resolution. Given the price of this camera, we're not expecting marvels but the quality and colour accuracy is just awful. Unfortunately, there's no optical viewfinder like that found on entry-level compacts of old, meaning the screen is the only way you can construct images.

Tiny buttons seem to be a mainstay of Sony cameras whatever the price and the W510 is no exception. There's a plastic zoom toggle at the rear, close to the mode switch to alternate between still, sweep panorama or video mode. Video recording is only VGA or QVGA resolution though, no HD here.

Connectivity is via a single AV-out port at the side. Running on a Lithium-ion battery, the W510 also takes SD cards and Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • Shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Sony W5100.9
  • Canon A22000.5

Sony rates the battery life for the W510 at 220 shots.

Image quality

The W510 loves to play around with its exposures, and definitely not in a good way. Give this camera any opportunity to over-expose in bright situations and it definitely will. Having said that, in a rather ironic fashion, the W510 produces its best images in sunny and well-lit situations. It also does surprisingly well at macro shots, too. Colours are definitely over-saturated, with blues particularly being pumped up to the extreme.

At full magnification, this camera exhibits classic over-processing issues as the image looks crunchy and covered in digital noise. Barrel distortion, or the phenomenon where straight lines appear curved, is very pronounced at the 26mm wide-angle end. Images at high ISO levels? Best to forget about those, as you'll be covered in a deluge of noise.

All this said, snapshooters who just want to capture party photos for Facebook or web display won't find too many problems, as images look decent at reduced resolution.

Unlike the other Sony cameras that come equipped with sweep panorama mode, the W510 doesn't couple this feature with a fast image processor and sensor. Instead, you're lumbered with the slow CCD sensor that takes about 10 seconds to capture a sequence of shots in a horizontal alignment.

Image samples

DSC00070.JPG

Exposure: 1/125, f/5.9, ISO 1600

DSC00079.JPG

Exposure: 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 80

DSC00083.JPG

Exposure: 1/250, f/8, ISO 100

DSC00078.JPG

Exposure: 1/200, f/8, ISO 80

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

If you have a limited budget or need a cheap camera for a gift, there are lots of better options than the W510. The Canon A2200 packs more features, HD video and better image quality in a camera that's about the same size as the W510 — and it's cheaper.

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