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

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The Good The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 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.

6.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 6

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.

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.

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