Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350 Review

4.5
May 20, 2014 | Jack Baker |

Image Quality


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350 sports Sony’s 18.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, paired with the new BIONZ X image processor. The combination gives a standard sensitivity range of ISO80 to ISO3200, although in Multi Frame NR mode this is expanded as high as ISO12800.

Keep the sensitivity at ISO800 or below and image quality is very good, with well-controlled grain and little evidence of colour speckling. Quality doesn’t nosedive at ISO1600 either, though by this point detail is starting to suffer. Only at ISO3200 do colours start to become noticeably blotchy and noise unsightly. Switch to Multi Frame NR mode and the camera captures a burst of exposures in an attempt to minimise noise, but even this trickery can’t make images captured at ISO6400 or ISO12800 look attractive.

Back below ISO800 those 18.2 megapixels also do a good job of capturing detail and generate rich colour saturation. A small smattering of grain is visible at all sensitivities if your pixel peep, but that’s inevitable for a 1/2.3” sensor and is the price you pay for having a small camera with a big zoom range. What’s impressive is that fine detail like distant foliage in landscape shots isn’t subject to the painterly smearing effect often produced by cameras with this sensor size thanks to their overzealous noise reduction processing.

Optically there’s also little to criticise as the Sony G lens does a stellar job of minimising chromatic aberration (purple fringing in high-contrast areas) and, despite the large focal length range, produces no distortion. Corner sharpness is a close match for detail in the centre of frame too.

If we’ve got one complaint it’s the slightly underwhelming dynamic range, but that’s easily fixed by switching to Superior Auto mode, whereby the camera will capture high-contrast scenes in multiple exposures to preserve additional highlight and shadow data.

Noise

The DSC-WX350 has nine sensitivity settings available at full resolution. The seven settings between ISO80 and ISO3200 are available in single-shot mode, or you can activate the Multi Frame NR feature to capture images comprised of multiple consecutive exposures at up to ISO12800.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

 
 

Focal Range

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350’s 20x zoom lens achieves a focal length range of 25-500mm when converted into a 35mm camera format. Here you can see just how big a zoom range that gives you, covering almost any shooting scenario. The lens is also capable of a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at wide-angle, which is unremarkable but fairly typical for a superzoom optic. It means the lens can’t open particularly wide to let light through to the sensor, hence the camera must compensate with longer shutter speeds and higher sensor sensitivities. Luckily Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation system does a great job of ironing out any camera shake, though we can’t show you the difference this makes as there’s no way to disable the feature.

25mm

500mm

File Quality

Two JPEG compression quality options are available to accompany all image sizes: Fine and Standard. Strangely there’s barely any difference in file size regardless of which setting you choose, indicating a possible firmware bug. Testing the similar Cyber-shot DSC-WX220 also flagged up the same issue, indicating this anomaly is not just confined to our test sample.

Fine

Standard

Sharpening

We found that if the pictures have any noise in at all, you're going to increase the appearance of it by adding any sharpening in post production.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with purple and blue fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

It’s slightly disappointing that the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350 can only macro focus down to 5cm, rather than the 1cm macro modes available on some rival models. There’s no way to manually activate macro focussing either, but that’s no big deal as in all three automatic modes the camera reliably detects a close-up subject and focuses correctly without you intervening.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

Four flash settings are available: Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync & Advanced. A separate menu option controls whether or not red-eye reduction is active, although even with this deactivated our testing showed no evidence of red-eye. The flash itself is reasonably powerful, but there is some vignetting visible at wide angle from a distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (500mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (500mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night Scene

Although there’s no manual shutter speed control on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350, it does feature a Night Scene mode that’ll hold the shutter open and keep the sensor sensitivity low to maximise light input without producing significant image noise. The 4-second exposure time does make a tripod essential though.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Picture Effects

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350 contains thirteen Picture Effects, some with additional sub options: Toy camera (normal, cool, warm, green, magenta), Pop color, Posterization (colour, mono), Retro photo, Soft high-key, Partial color (green, blue, yellow, red), High-contrast mono, Soft focus (low, mid, high), HDR painting (low, mid, high), Rich-tone mono, Miniature (top, middle horizontal, bottom, left, middle vertical, right), Watercolor, Illustration (low, mid, high).

Toy Camera

Pop Color

   

Posterization Mono

Retro

   

Soft High Key

Partial Color Green

   

High Contrast Monochrome

Soft Focus

   

HDR Painting

Rich Tone Mono

   

Miniature

Watercolor

   

Illustration

 
 

iSweep Panorama

Sony’s dedicated iSweep Panorama mode gives you three width options: Standard (roughly 120-degrees), Wide (180-degrees) and a full 360-degree pan. There’s no ability to simply stop panning at will though. Whichever width you choose, the result is a seamless panorama with a consistent exposure, albeit considerably downsized to 1080 vertical pixels with a distinct loss of detail. To be fair to Sony, most competing compact cameras with sweep panorama modes have similar limitations. If you’re after something more spectacular, you’d be better off manually snapping adjacent overlapping images and stitching them on a computer with additional software.

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, compact, review, 1080p, beginner, wi-fi, full hd, wireless, wifi, 10fps, 18 megapixel, 20x zoom, 20x, 20x lens, Sony WX350, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350, Sony DSC-WX350, wx350, dsc-wx350

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