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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 Digital Camera review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 Digital Camera

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 Digital Camera

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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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The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 is a fairly basic point-and-shoot, good for casual photographers in need of a small, lightweight camera that performs well in auto. It doesn't require the user to do much beyond turning it on and pressing the shutter release. Sony throws in some other shooting options, though, in case you want to get a little more creative.

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6.6

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 Digital Camera

The Good

The <b>Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650</b> is an attractive, easy-to-use ultracompact camera with a few nice extras for its sub-$140 price tag.

The Bad

Photos taken above ISO 200 are noticeably soft, and the camera's shooting performance is too slow for moving or impatient subjects.

The Bottom Line

For simple snapshots of stationary subjects, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 should do the trick. At least, as long as you have plenty of light.

Unfortunately, one of the DSC-W650's few shortcomings is shooting performance. If you need speed for capturing sports, children, or pets, the W650 probably isn't the camera for you. It's also not the greatest in low-light conditions, either. But for simple snapshots of portraits or landscapes for sharing online or making small prints, it might be all you need.

Key specs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650
Price (MSRP) $139.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.8x2.3x0.8 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 4.4 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch LCD, 230K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 5x, f2.6-6.3, 25-125mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/H.264 AAC (.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
Bundled software PlayMemories Home (Windows), Music Transfer (Windows, Mac)

Photo quality from the W650 is very good for its class, but like most compact cameras it still stumbles at higher ISOs. Photos at ISO 80 and 100 are relatively sharp with a decent amount of fine detail and low noise. At ISO 200, subjects soften some, losing 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 usable. 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 pictures unusable.

If most of your shooting is done outside in good lighting, the W650 will turn out very good results for the most part. The 16-megapixel resolution isn't really usable for enlarging and heavy cropping. For small prints and Web sharing, most people should be pleased with the results.

The same can be said about its video quality. Movie clips are on par with a basic HD pocket video camera or smartphone; good enough for Web use, but you probably won't like looking at them on a large HDTV. 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. The zoom lens does function while recording, but you will hear it in your recordings, especially in quieter scenes.

General shooting options Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent white, Fluorescent natural white, Fluorescent day white, Incandescent, Flash, Custom
Recording modes Easy, Intelligent Auto, Program, Sweep Panorama, Picture Effect, 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 Vivid
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 100 shots

The W650 is designed for easy point-and-shoot use, so you won't get a lot of control over your results. The Intelligent Auto scene recognition mode turns out reliable results without any adjustments, but there are still a couple of options available, like exposure compensation, continuous shooting, 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 11 scene-shooting options, including Beach, Snow, Night Portrait, Pet, and High Sensitivity for low-light shooting without a flash. 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. 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.

Sony added a few of its Picture Effects for those who are addicted to playing with various photo apps or just want to experiment. Options include Toy camera with different hues to pick from, Pop Color, Partial Color (turns everything monochrome except for a selected color), and Soft High-key.

If you're considering the W650 for regularly shooting kids, pets, and sports, I wouldn't recommend it; it's just too slow. From off to first shot takes about 2 seconds with shot-to-shot times averaging 3.3 seconds. Using the flash extends that wait to 3.8 seconds. Its shutter lag -- how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed without prefocusing -- is OK for its class, but still long; 0.5 second in bright lighting, and in low-light conditions the lag goes up to 0.9 second. Its continuous shooting speed is pretty sluggish, too, shooting at only 0.7 frame per second. Now, that's not to say you won't get the occasional action shot, but you probably won't get the shot you want.

Sony W650's controls.
The W650's controls are easy to learn and use.

One of this camera's best attributes is its simple operation. Most people familiar with digital cameras should be able to use it out of the box, but there is a full user manual embedded in the camera for quick reference whenever you want.

A switch on the side lets you quickly slip from shooting stills to panoramas to HD movie clips and back again. The buttons are tiny but fairly easy to press, though their markings are difficult to see in anything but direct light. What's not good in direct light is the 3-inch LCD. It gets bright, but it's still difficult to see in full sun, and off-angle viewing is poor.

For connecting to a computer or TV, the camera has a Micro-USB port on the bottom of the camera. A USB cable is included, but connecting directly to a display requires the purchase of a USB/AV 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 over 200 shots. The W650's card slot can take an SD card or Memory Stick. 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 computer.

Conclusion
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 is a good choice for casual snapshooters in need of a reasonably priced lightweight ultracompact that's simple to operate. Sony gives users a couple extras like optical image stabilization and its Sweep Panorama mode to increase the value. However, the DSC-W650's shooting performance can be frustratingly slow at times, so you probably won't want this for photos of active kids and pets.

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

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6.6

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 Digital Camera

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6Image quality 6