Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570

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The Good The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is simple to use with reliable auto shooting and decent low-light photos in a very small body.

The Bad The W570's shooting performance--especially shot to shot--is slow, and the lens has some edge and corner softness.

The Bottom Line The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is a tiny and light ultracompact capable of taking nice photos with little to no effort.

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

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
Price (MSRP) $179.99
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
Color effects None
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.