The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is the successor to 2010's Cyber-shot DSC-W350, a favorite ultracompact of mine and our readers. Sony didn't change much for the update, increasing resolution from 14 to 16 megapixels and putting in a slightly brighter, wider, and longer lens while keeping the body approximately the same size and weight. Its shooting options are the same as the W350's, so really the resolution and lens are the only reasons to upgrade (in other words, I wouldn't bother trading up). On the other hand, the starting price dropped $20, which makes it sweeter for those who don't have a W350.
This little camera can turn out nice-looking photos and movies, too, thanks to excellent color that's consistent up to ISO 800. Lens softness at the edges and in the corners kept it from rating higher; if you're sensitive to that, I would skip this model. Also, while the 16-megapixel resolution might work for marketing, it doesn't help or hurt photo quality. In fact, it just seems to slow the camera down between shots, so if you hate to wait you might want to keep looking. Otherwise, for the price it is a very good take-everywhere ultracompact camera.
|Key specs||Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570|
|Dimensions (WHD)||3.6x2.1x0.8 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||4.1 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||5x, f2.6-6.3, 25-125mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/MPEG-4 (.MP4)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,280x720 pixels at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Optical and digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 220 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No; external charger included|
|Storage media||SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Eye-Fi SDHC|
|Bundled software||Picture Motion Browser 5.5, PMB Portable 5.0 (Windows), PMB Portable 1.1 (Mac), Music Transfer|
Photo quality from the W570 is very good for its class, but like most point-and-shoots it still stumbles at higher ISOs. Photos at ISO 80 and 100 are relatively sharp with very good fine detail and low noise. At ISO 200, subjects soften some, losing a touch of sharpness and fine detail. At ISO 400, images get noticeably softer and there's an increase in noise in darker areas of images. If you're printing at and below 5x7 inches and not doing heavy cropping, the results are very good. Photos at ISO 800 and 1600 look painterly from noise reduction, so subjects will appear soft and smeary; it's even worse at ISO 3200, making it unusable. Colors get muddy as well, especially at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200; you'll probably want to reserve these two highest sensitivities for emergencies when you need to shoot in low-light conditions or get a faster shutter speed regardless of the results.
Color is excellent. While blues and reds may not be as accurate as other colors, they are bright and vivid. Plus, they're consistent up to ISO 800; again, above that things get slightly washed out and muddy-looking. Exposure and white balance are good as well, though highlights tend to blow out.
As for the lens, Sony controls barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens and pincushion distortion at the telephoto end. The lens' center sharpness is very good, but gets noticeably softer at the edges and in the corners. (Editors' note: We tested two different W570 cameras for this review. The first one had extreme softness on the right side, which made everything we shot blurry on only that side. The second camera we tested did not exhibit the same issue; its softness was even, leading us to believe the first camera's lens had been damaged. However, it seems lens sharpness at the edges and in the corners is an issue in general with this model.) Fringing around high-contrast subjects was minimal and only really visible when photos were viewed at full size. Even then it's mainly off to the sides and in the corners.
The W570's movie mode is simple, offering resolutions up to 720p HD with a mono mic for audio and use of the optical zoom while recording. Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; it's good enough for Web use and nondiscriminating TV viewing. Panning the camera will cause noticeable judder. You may also see trailing behind fast-moving subjects. Both are typical of the video from most compact cameras, though.
|General shooting options||Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 80, 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, Program, Sweep Panorama, Scene, Movie|
|Focus modes||Multi AF, Center AF, Spot AF, Face Detection (Adult, Child)|
|Macro||2 inches (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Multi, Center, Spot|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||3 shots|
The Intelligent Auto scene recognition mode turns out reliable results without any adjustments, but there are still a couple of options available, like exposure and setting face detection priorities. An Easy mode takes away all options except for image size (large or small) and enlarges onscreen text.
There are 12 scene-shooting options, including Beach, Snow, Twilight, Pet, and High Sensitivity for low-light shooting without a flash. There's an Underwater scene, too, for use with a waterproof housing; the W570 is not waterproof. The camera also has a version of Sony's Sweep Panorama feature that allows you to quickly and easily take panoramic shots horizontally or vertically and underwater. Though fun, the results are just on par with a screen capture from a video clip. Consider them for Web use, viewing on a TV from a proper distance, or very small prints.
For those who want a little more control, Program Auto lets you adjust ISO, white balance, autofocus points, light metering, and exposure values, as well as control the amount of Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization used for rescuing shadow detail.
The W570's Macro mode can focus as close as 2 inches from a subject and the photos can be very good. The camera switches to macro automatically regardless of what mode you're in so there's no need to fiddle with settings just to shoot close-ups. Plus, its f2.6 aperture is larger than on many competing cameras and does let you create a shallow depth of field when shooting in macro.
Shooting performance is mixed for the W570. Its shutter lag--how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed--is good for its class; 0.4 second in bright lighting and in low-light conditions the lag only goes up to 0.7 second. The camera is also pretty quick with continuous shooting for its class at 1.5 frames per second, though that's only for three shots. However, from off to first shot is long at 2.3 seconds and the wait between shots is very long: 4.6 seconds without the flash and 5.1 seconds with. I wouldn't recommend this camera for regularly shooting kids, pets, and sports because it's just too slow. That's not to say you won't get the occasional action shot, especially if you take advantage of the camera's three-shot burst, but you might not get the shot you want.
The W570 is available in silver, black, violet, and pink versions; its body is lightweight and compact enough to squeeze into pants pockets or handbags. It's one of those cameras you won't hesitate to take with you because it's so small and light. Controls are straightforward, too, making it possible to use right out of the box. And if you get lost, a full user manual is embedded in the camera for quick reference whenever you want.
On top are the power and shutter release buttons. They're flush with the body and, though they're easily pressed, most users will need to look to locate them. The remaining controls are on back to the right of the reasonably bright but not great LCD. A zoom rocker that some may find finicky sits above the thumb rest; on the right edge of the body sits a vertical slider for moving from shooting stills to panoramas to movies. Playback, Menu, Delete, and a circular directional pad handle all other tasks. In addition to navigating menus, the directional pad can change flash and timer functions, change display information, and activate smile detection.
For connecting to a computer or TV, the camera has a proprietary jack on the bottom of the camera. A USB/AV cable is included, but HD output requires the purchase of a component cable.
The memory card slot and battery compartment are protected by a lockable door, which you'll have to open regularly to remove the battery for charging. Battery life is average for its size, rated at just more than 200 shots. The W570's card slot can take an SD card or Memory Stick, and if you have an Eye-Fi wireless SD card, the W570 stays powered on until wireless media uploads are complete, has an onscreen icon, and offers the ability to enable/disable Eye-Fi Card Wi-Fi via the camera menu. Though internal memory is limited, it does host a small piece of software for quickly uploading photos and movies to sharing sites when the camera is connected to a Windows or Mac computer.
I never hesitated to recommend the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350; it was my go-to sub-$200 ultracompact and just a great little camera for the money. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is nearly as nice with just slower performance and a softer lens keeping me from giving it an equally strong recommendation. If you rarely if ever do any large prints or heavy cropping, the edge and corner softness probably won't be an issue, so if you want something this small and light for less than $180, I would go for it.
(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)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.