Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150

The WX150's small, lightweight body might make it difficult for some users to keep the lens steady when zoomed in. Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features
Save for the lens, the WX150's design isn't very different than last year's WX9. That camera had a Carl Zeiss 5x, f2.6-6.3, 25-125mm lens, which was a very nice lens. Unfortunately, in the move to a 10x optical zoom, the WX150 loses the WX9's bright f2.6 maximum aperture; the WX150 starts at f3.3 instead. It's not the end of the world, but it does mean the WX150 will need its higher ISO sensitivities a little bit sooner when you have less light.

Key specs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150
Price (MSRP) $249.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.8x2.1x0.9 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 4.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 18 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch LCD, 460K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 10x, f3.3-5.9, 25-250mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/AVCHD (.MTS); MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (.MP4)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,896x3,672 pixels/1,920x1,080 at 60fps (interlaced; 24Mbps)
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li ion rechargeable, 240 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes; via USB to AC adapter or computer
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC; Memory Stick Pro Duo
Bundled software PlayMemories Home (Windows); Music Transfer (Windows, Mac)

About the only hangup I have with the design is that it's almost too small and light. Many of the controls are very small and a few of its buttons are flat and flush with the body, including the power button. Plus, the mode dial/directional pad is slightly frustrating to use and could accidentally move you out of your chosen shooting mode if you're not careful with your thumb. Also, because there's not much weight to it, it can be very difficult to keep the lens still when fully extended. This is a problem with all long-lens compacts, but there's just less to grab onto with the WX150.

The WX150's tiny body and controls might be too small for some users. Try before you buy if you can. Sarah Tew/CNET

All of Sony's higher-end Cyber-shots charge by USB by connecting to a computer or the included wall adapter. It's a Micro-USB port, too, so they're pretty easy to come by. The battery life is a CIPA-rated 240 shots, but if you're shooting a lot of video, have the display brightness cranked up, or using a lot of the multishot modes or burst shooting, this will cut into your battery life. If you buy a backup battery, you'll probably want to buy an external charger as well, or just plan ahead.

General shooting options Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, White Fluorescent Lighting, Natural White Fluorescent, Day White Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash, Manual
Recording modes Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto, Program, Scene, iSweep Panorama, Background Defocus, Picture Effect, 3D Shooting, Movie
Focus modes Multi AF, Center AF, Spot AF, Face Detection (Adult, Child)
Macro 1.9 inches (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)
Metering modes Multi, Center, Spot
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 10 shots

Like all of Sony's higher-end cameras, there are a lot of shooting options that take advantage of its fast Exmor R sensors and Bionz image processors. For those who like to leave it in auto, there are three options: Easy, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto. Easy mode takes away all options except for image size (large or small) and enlarges onscreen text. Intelligent Auto picks from 10 scene types and turns on face detection, dynamic range optimization, and image stabilization. Superior Auto takes Intelligent Auto and adds three multishot modes: Handheld Twilight, Anti Motion Blur, and Backlight Correction HDR. These multishot modes are also selectable as distinct modes in Scene options, along with 13 others like Soft Skin, Gourmet, and Pet, and an Underwater option for use with an optional marine housing.

Partial Color mode lets you select a highlight color and makes the rest monochrome. Joshua Goldman/CNET

There is a Program mode if you want to take more control over your results, but you won't find any semimanual or manual shooting modes; the WX150 is really made for automatic snapshots. That said, Sony gives you a lot of extra auto shooting options including nine picture effects such as a miniature/tilt-shift, HDR, and high-contrast black-and-white, and 3D stills and easy pan-and-shoot panoramas. (Read more about the WX150's shooting capabilities in this slideshow.)

Overall, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 is an excellent camera for its size, price, and capabilities. My issues with it are relatively minor, such as its lack of a regular continuous shooting option or its tiny buttons. Snapshooters should be happy with its photo and movie quality (unless you're after really accurate colors across the board) and its fast autofocus makes it easy to get that quick one-off shot.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10
Nikon Coolpix S8200

Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR

Typical continuous-shooting speed (frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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