Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 Review
The Sony DSC-WX100 is a stylish new compact camera with a vast array of advanced features. Just 17.5mm slim (at thinnest point), the WX100 has an 18.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor for better low noise performance, 1080i Full HD movie recording, 10x optical G Lens with a 25mm wide-angle setting, and a 2.7 inch LCD screen with 460k dots. Also on offer are 3D Sweep Panoramas and 3D still images, high resolution panoramas, Superior Auto mode which combines up to 6 images to reduce noise and maximise dynamic range, 10fps continuous shooting, and Background Defocus mode to create portraits with a smoothly defocused background. The Sony DSC-WX100 is available in silver, white or black and costs around £179.99.
Ease of Use
Looking at the Sony Cyber-shot WX100 is a bit like looking at one of those Hot Rods that were all rusty and beaten up on the outside, but when they set off, they made your teeth chatter. That's not to say that the outside is all beaten up. The analogy simply describes that the unassuming exterior gives no indication to the apparent power that lies beneath.
The WX100 is a basic box design of a camera. The corners are only mildly curved off and the lens barrel pokes out of the front slightly to house the large 10x optical zoom. The lens system is composed of Sony G elements which are of a higher standard than you'd find on most other digital compacts. This technology has been migrated over from Konica Minolta G lenses who Sony took over imaging operations from in 2006.
Once the image has transferred through the lens, it lands on the sensor. In the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 is an 18 megapixel Exmor R sensor. Exmor R is the name for Sony's back-illuminated sensors. A typical sensor has circuitry that surrounds each pixel and can block some of the light from getting onto it. On this sensor, that circuitry has been moved to the back of the sensor. This allows more light to land on each pixel. The term “back illuminated sensor” comes from looking at an Exmor R when it's fitted in the camera as it looks as though it's been fitted backwards. This extra light supposedly makes the sensor more responsive in low light and therefore produces lower noise.
On the top of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 is a power button that sits flush with the body and a raised shutter release button which also has the zoom rocker wrapped around it. The reason for the raised button is to enable you to distinguish between the power button and shutter release so you don't press the wrong one. The shutter release isn't exactly round; it cuts in at the front and is squared off. This would make twisting the zoom action impossible, so to get round this problem and still have a pretty button, the shutter release also twists.
On the back there's a small switch with three options for normal shooting, Sweep Panorama or Video mode. You can press the direct video button to the right of this switch and video will record regardless of the mode you're in though. In Panorama mode, there's more than one option. The iSweep option is the standard panoramic shooting mode. Because the WX100 is set-up for 3D television, there's two 3D modes as well. One allows you to only view on a 3D compatible viewer such as a tv while the other (which shoots at 2 megapixel resolution) allows you to preview on the camera. The latter also takes a lot more information, so you don't get to do much sweeping. We managed maybe a 30-40º arc whereas the standard mode allows a 90º arc. T
here's been some references to “sweeping” and if you're not entirely sure what it means, it describes how you take the panoramic picture. Typically, you have to take a picture, move the camera over, take another, move the camera over and continue this until the shot is done. Then the camera will either stitch the image or you have to do it on software at home. Sweep Panorama is better. You stand in one place, point the camera at the start position, hold the button down and swing round in one continuous movement. A guide on the screen indicates how much space you have left and the camera will stop recording if you move too fast and get blurry pictures. It's a much more convenient way of getting a panoramic picture and works very well.
In addition to the 3D panorama modes, there's also an underwater panorama. Don't get excited, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 isn't waterproof. It does have a waterproof case (MPK-WH) but that costs roughly the same as the camera so will be out of reach or interest for many users.
In the middle of the button section on the back is a jog wheel. Moving this wheel in Panorama mode will switch between the panoramic options. In Shooting mode, it scrolls through the modes you can take pictures in such as Intelligent auto, Superior auto, Program, 3D, Scenes, Picture Effects and Background Defocus which has been given a dedicated slot instead of being in the Picture Effects area. The wheel doubles up it's tasks and you can also press it up, down, left and right to access different areas such as continuous shooting, flash options, self-timer and display options. At the bottom are the main menu button, delete/Help guide button and the playback button to review pictures you've already taken.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 doesn't feel a badly made model at all. It's firm to the touch and has buttons in the right places. The scrolling wheel can be a bit temperamental with it's sensitivity but once it's going, it flies through the options. The screen is bright and clear though we did have some trouble in bright sunshine. The areas we're unsure about are the battery compartment door and the lens. While the door has a small strip of metal to strengthen it, it can still be moved from side to side as though it doesn't fit the join to the camera. The lens also has some wobble (which we'd expect when manipulated) but this lens will wobble just by shaking the camera slightly.
Sony have changed the way the menu is laid out a few times in recent history. On the WX100, pressing the menu button will open up a display similar to the Function menu on other cameras. It shows the most frequently used modes on the left and these can be scrolled through using the wheel as a pad to go up and down or using the wheel to move left and right. Access to the main menu is through the toolbox icon right at the bottom of the screen. This menu is black with white writing and an orange highlight strip. It's split into four tabs for shooting, main, memory card and demo mode. By pressing left, you can flick through these header tabs or normal scrolling will move through the options one tab at a time.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
Start up times from cold (switched off) is very good. We managed to power up the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100, focus and take a picture in 1.8 seconds. An average time is 2.5 seconds. Pressing left on the command wheel allows you to switch on the burst mode. It's a burst mode and not continuous mode because of the speed it takes pictures. It takes ten pictures in a second but then needs up to 13 seconds in total to download the pictures. A continuous mode plods along at a slower rate but can go for longer as it downloads while it shoots.
Playback mode has a lot of stuff to do. Pressing the button brings up the most recently taken picture and some basic information about it such as the time and date it was taken, the resolution and aspect ratio as well as the file number. Pressing the display button opens three options: Basic info (default), no info and detailed info. The latter shows the flash status, white-balance, ISO, exposure compensation and a histogram of the shot. This box gives a visual display of whether the picture is exposed properly. It shows a graph-like image. The aim is to get the peak in the centre of the frame for a balanced exposure.
The menu changes in playback mode bringing up more relevant options such as delete, retouch, Picture Effect, 3D viewing and other viewing modes. You can also protect your pictures, rotate them and open up a camera guide. Aside from that it's a standard playback menu with everything where it should be. The retouch options are basic but the Picture Effects idea is a good one to avoid a lot of forehead slapping with regret of not using one at the time.
In the box accompanying the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100, you can expect a USB cable that attaches to the main charger unit with a separate figure 8 (kettle) lead to the mains. There's a lithium ion battery and a wrist strap. As is usually the case these days, the full manual comes on the CD which sounds awkward but is much better for the environment.
All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 18 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.
While taking the pictures through the test, we were a little unsure about whether they would come out ok. This was because the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100's screen wasn't all that precise at relaying what the sensor was recording.
In reality when we looked back on the pictures, they look much better. Blues and greens are realistic while complicated colours such as purple and subtle hues are dealt with nicely. Bright colours are punchy without being over saturated. The part that surprised us was how narrow the dynamic range is on the sensor. After all, this is Sony and - in our opinion - their DSLR sensors have a great dynamic range. While the sensor on the WX100 isn't the same as a DSLR, there should be the same technology filtering down to add benefit.
Metering can be tricky, the camera obviously favours darker areas which gives burnt out highlights. Usually, metering from the horizon or the edge of the dark area and light area can give a relatively balanced result but not with the WX100. We found that we either got a slightly over or under exposed dark area than what we're used to seeing.
Low ISO images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 look great but if you drill down to 100% magnification, you can see a small amount of noise reduction software working which makes us think that the sensor isn't all that good. Still, edges are sharp and if you view them from a normal distance, you can't possibly see the issue we mentioned. As we climb through the settings, the problem gets worse. Decay in image quality can be seen at every setting which is unusual at the low stages. ISO 400 shows a break down of edge sharpness although colour invasion isn't apparent by now.
Small amounts of colour appear at ISO 800 but the major changes don't happen until ISO 1600. At this point there's a considerable drop in quality while noise reduction does it's best to stem the tide. But noise comes washing in and there's little the camera can do to stop it. As we reach the pinnacle of the sensitivity settings, there's little similarity between the image we saw at the start. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that Sony put too high a setting on the camera. ISO 6400 is by no means perfect but it's a legible option if you need it. ISO 12800 just looks wrong.
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)
Although we're happy with how sharp the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100's lens is, we found that adding a standard sharpening to the images in Adobe Photoshop added a little extra to them.
Original (100% Crop)
Sharpened (100% Crop)
We barely found chromatic aberrations in the pictures we looked at. It is present but it's in weird places and there seems to be no logical continuity to it.
Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)
Flicking the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 into macro mode allows you to get in closer to the action when taking pictures. The macro mode on the WX100 is sufficient for everyday use but it's nothing special. The lens is sharper in the centre of the frame which is nothing new and image quality does drop off substantially to the edges of the frame.
There's a degree of vignetting on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 without the use of flash and this is maintained through to full zoom. Adding flash doesn't eradicate it, it simply brightens the centre area. We didn't pick up any red-eye in the portrait test although there's what looks like chroma around the catch light.
Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)
Forced Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)
Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (250mm)
Forced Flash - Telephoto (250mm)
And here are some portrait shots.
|Forced Flash (100% Crop)|
Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)
Taking a night shot in auto mode gives a darker response than the night scene mode because of the shorter shutter speeds that the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 allows in this mode. However, ISO can be controlled so if you can get a decent exposure, it's best to use the auto setting. However, in our night scene test, the results aren't all that bad. Noise control is working overtime and the picture does have that oil painting effect caused by smudging the image to remove speckles, but an amount of detail has been retained.
Night Auto (100% Crop)
Night Scene (100% Crop)
This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 camera, which were all taken using the 18 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
Sample Movie & Video
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera / Lens Extended
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Rear of the Camera / Shooting Mode Menu
Top of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Memory Card Slot
Using the Sony Cyber-shot WX100 was easy enough once the controls were understood. Not that they're unclear, but Sony have changed their menu systems a few times so it can be difficult to keep track. It looks nice and feels good when holding it. Despite its size, it's not too difficult to hold on to and the buttons seem to fall to the fingertips. There are some good features on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 to attract potential owners such as FullHD, 3D shooting options and for the more tech savvy, the G lens and Exmor R sensor will impress. The quality of the glass shows through in the sharpness although we don't like the substantial drop-off noticeable on the macro shot.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 responds well to commands and it's fast enough at what it does. In fact we were surprised by how fast it was during start up and focusing. Image quality is good too. We're impressed with the colour rendition of the pictures and although noise can be an issue, the noise reduction software does a decent enough job. In fact, the noise being present at low ISOs is really the only drawback of the camera. Image quality would be top notch for a camera at this price point if it wasn't for that.
For the price, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 is a great little unit. There are some previously mentioned issues with the build such as the lens and battery door. But for under £200, it's ideal for taking out on nights out and going on holiday. It may not look the nicest, but it's a wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to performance. While not perfect, it's the sort of thing we'd expect from a camera at a higher price point.
If you're in the market for a sub-£200 camera that has a good lens, good noise reduction and a host of features, then the Sony Cyber-shot WX100 is a worthy camera of your attention.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|
Reviews of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100 from around the web.
The Sony Cyber-shot WX100 is a compact 18.2 megapixel digital camera, with a 10x optical zoom lens and a 2.7inch screen on the back. It's shoots full HD video with stereo sound and optical zoom, and is surprisingly compact fitting in even the smallest pockets.
Read the full review »
|Clear Image Zoom||20x|
|Digital Zoom||18M Approx.40x / 10M Approx.53x / 5M Approx.75x / VGA Approx.153x / 13M(16:9) Approx.40x / 2M(16:9) Approx.102x|
|Focal Length (f= mm)||f=4.45-44.5mm|
|Focal Length (f=35mm conversion)||f=25-250mm|
|Macro (cm)||iAuto:AF(W:Approx.5cm(0.16') to Infinity, T:Approx.150cm(4.92') to Infinity) / Program Auto:AF(W:Approx.5cm(0.16') to Infinity, T:Approx.150cm(4.92') to Infinity)|
|Filter Diameter (mm)||NO|
|Conversion Lens compatibility||NO|
|Carl Zeiss® lens||NO|
|Sensor Type||Exmor R™ CMOS Sensor|
|Size (Inches)||1/2.3 type(7.76mm)|
|Effective Pixels (Mega Pixels)||Approx. 18.2|
|Soft Skin Mode||YES|
|Backlight correction HDR||YES|
|Picture Effect||HDR Painting, Richtone Monochrome, Miniature, Toy camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Soft High-key, Watercolor, Illustration|
|Intelligent Sweep Panorama||YES|
|Underwater Sweep Panorama||YES|
|3D Sweep Panorama||YES|
|Clear RAW NR||NO|
|Auto Focus Area (Multi Point)||YES|
|Auto Focus Area (Centre weighted)||YES|
|Auto Focus Area (Spot)||YES|
|Auto Focus Area (Flexible Spot)||NO|
|Aperture Auto Mode||iAuto(F3.3/F8.0(W), 2 steps with ND Filter) / Program Auto(F3.3/F8.0(W), 2 steps with ND Filter)|
|Aperture Priority Mode||NO|
|Aperture Manual Mode||NO|
|Shutter Speed Auto Mode (sec)||iAuto(4" - 1/1600) / Program Auto(1" - 1/1600)|
|NR Slow Shutter||NO|
|Hand Shake Alert||NO|
|Exposure Control||± 2.0EV, 1/3EV step|
|White Balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent1, Fluorescent2, Fluorescent3, Incandescent, Flash, One Push, One Push Set, Underwater|
|Automatic White Balance||YES|
|Light Metering (Multi Pattern)||YES|
|Light Metering (Centre weighted)||YES|
|Light Metering (Spot)||YES|
|ISO Sensitivity (REI)||ISO100-3200(iAuto), ISO100-12800(Superior Auto), ISO100-1600(Program Auto)|
|Scene Selection||Soft Snap / Soft Skin / Anti Motion Blur / Backlight Correction HDR / Night Portrait / Night Scene / High Sensitivity / Handheld Twilight / Beach / Snow / Fireworks / Gourmet / Pet Mode / Landscape|
|Optical SteadyShot capability||YES|
Auto Focus System
|AF Illuminator||Auto / Off|
|Flash Mode||Auto / Flash On / Slow Synchro / Flash Off|
|Red-Eye Correction||Auto / On / Off|
|Auto Daylight Synchronized Flash||NO|
|Distance limitations using Flash (m)||ISO Auto: Approx.0.2m to 3.7m(7 7/8 inches to 12feet 1 3/4 inches)(W) / Approx.1.5m to 2.2 m(4feet 11 1/8 inches to 7feet 2 5/8 inches)(T), ISO3200: up to Approx.5.9m(19feet 4 3/8 inches)(W) / Approx.|
|LCD Screen Size (inches)||6.7cm(2.7type)|
|LCD Total Dots Number||460.8|
|LCD Monitor Type||TFT ClearPhoto|
|Auto Bright Monitoring||NO|
|Recording Media||Memory Stick™ Duo / Memory Stick PRO Duo™ / Memory Stick PRO Duo™ (high speed) / Memory Stick PRO HG Duo™ / Memory Stick Micro* / Memory Stick Micro (mark 2)*|
|Recording Media II||SD Memory Card / SDHC Memory Card / SDXC Memory Card / microSD Memory Card* / microSDHC Memory Card*|
|DCF (Design rule for Camera File System)||YES|
|DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)||YES|
|Burst Mode (shots)||Approx.10 fps|
|Burst Interval (approximately sec)||Approx.1.0 sec.(3 shots)|
|Still Image size (16M 4608 x 3456)||NO|
|Still Image size (18 M 4896×3672)||YES|
|Still Image size (14M 4320 x 3240)||NO|
|Still Image size (13M 4224 x 3168)||NO|
|Still Image size (12M 4000 x 3000)||NO|
|Still Image size (10M 3648 x 2736)||YES|
|Still Image size (9.0M, 3456 x 2592)||NO|
|Still Image size (8.0M, 3264 x 2448)||NO|
|Still Image size (7.2M 3072 x 2304)||NO|
|Still Image size (5.0M, 2592 x 1944)||YES|
|Still Image size (3.1M, 2048 x 1536)||NO|
|Still Image size (VGA, 640 x 480)||YES|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 1920 x 1080)||YES|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4896X2752)||YES|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4,608 x 2,592)||NO|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4,320 x 2,432)||NO|
|Still Image size (16:9 mode, 4000 x 2248)||NO|
|Still Image size (3:2 mode, 4000 x 2672)||NO|
|Still Image size (3:2 mode 3648 x 2432)||NO|
|Still Image size (3:2 mode 3456 x 2304)||NO|
|2D Panorama||HR(10,480 x 4,096) / Wide(7,152 x 1,080/4,912 x 1,920) / Standard(4,912 x 1,080/3,424 x 1,920)|
|3D Panorama||Wide(7,152 x 1,080/4,912 x 1,920) / Standard(4,912 x 1,080/3,424 x 1,920) / 2M(1,920 x 1,080) / Sweep Multi Angle:2M(1,920 x 1,080)|
|Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50p Approx.28Mbps)||NO|
|Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50i Approx.24Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (1920x1080 50i Approx.17Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (1440x1080 25fps Fine Approx.12Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (1280x720 50i Fine Approx.9Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (1280x720 30fps Standard Approx.6Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (1280x720 25fps Fine Approx.6Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (640x480 30fps Approx.3Mbps)||NO|
|Moving Image Size (640x480 25fps Approx.3Mbps)||YES|
|Moving Image Size (320x240 30fps)||NO|
|Moving Image Size (AVCHD 1920 x 1080(50i, Interlace) Approx.24Mbps(Average bit-rate))||YES|
|HD (High Definition) Playback||YES (HDMI® out)|
|Playback Zoom||YES (8x)|
|Cue & Review (MPEG)||YES|
|Index Playback||16 / 25 images|
|Auto Image Rotation||YES|
|Auto grouping and & Best Picture Recognition||YES|
|Battery Remaining Indicator||NO|
|PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol)||NO|
|Print Image Matching||YES|
|Shop Front Mode||YES|
|Start up time (approximately sec)||Approx. 1.6 sec.|
|Menu Language||English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian , Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Croatian, Romanian|
|Multi use Terminal with HD||MicroUSB, Hi-Speed USB(USB2.0), Mini HDMI|
|Multi use Terminal||YES|
|USB 2.0 Hi-Speed||YES|
|Battery System||Lithium N|
|Stamina (battery life) with the supplied battery(s) in normal shooting condition||Approx. 240 / Approx. 120min|
|Battery for Clock||NO|
|Weight (g)||Approx. 108g (3.8oz.)|
|Weight with Accessories (g)||Approx. 124g (4.4oz.|
|Supplied Software||PlayMemories Home|
|Supplied Accessories||Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BN), AC Adaptor (AC-UB10/UB10B), Micro USB, Wrist Strap, Instruction Manual, AC Power Cord|
|*||Requires adaptor (not supplied)|