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Christmas Gift Guide

ISO comparison

Color

Macro

Shooting performance

Zoom range

Picture Effects

Panorama

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 are not doing heavy cropping, the results are usuable. 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.

Viewed larger, you can more easily see noise and loss of detail start at about ISO 200. Basically, any photo taken indoors without a flash or in low-light conditions will likely result in a soft and somewhat flat-looking photo.

Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
Colors are pleasing from the W650. While blues and reds may not be as accurate as other colors, they are bright and vivid.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
If you like to shoot close-ups, the W650 can focus as close as 2 inches from a subject. This is a 100 percent crop from the inset photo.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
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 speeds are pretty sluggish, too, shooting at only 0.7 frames 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.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The 5x zoom lens on the W650 goes from an ultrawide-angle 25mm (top) to 125mm (bottom).
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Sony added a few of its Picture Effects for people who are addicted to playing with various photo apps or just want to experiment. Options include Toy camera, with different hues to pick from (pictured); Pop Color; Partial Color (turns everything monochrome except for a selected color); and Soft High-key.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
By the way, the purplish area of the photo is caused by bright light hitting the camera's CCD sensor. It's not present in every shot.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
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