Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50 6.0 MP Digital Camera - Silver Reviews
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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50 6.0 MP Digital Camera - Silver

40 ratings (18 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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Stunning Value For Money

Aug 26, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Battery Life:
  • Photo Quality:
  • Shutter Lag

Pros:Image quality, classy looks, feature packed, compact and easy to use

Cons:Expensive storage media and accessories, user interface sometimes fiddly.

The Bottom Line: Not as good as an SLR, but take into account the user friendliness and the large degree of flexibility it gives you in terms of exposure adjustment it's excellent.


Sony’s mid range DSC-W50 fits between the W30 and W70 and the main difference between them is that the W30 has a smaller 2-inch screen as opposed to the 2.5-inch item on the W50, whilst the W70 has the more flexible 7 megapixel CCD. Other than that they are identical. I’ll give you the main stats: the W50 has a 6 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom, Carl Zeiss optics and 50MB internal memory. Sony quotes an estimated 195 minutes from the supplied lithium ion battery. There are no less than seven programmed Auto Exposure presets, and a full movie mode which can also record sound.

Annoyingly, Sony has persisted with its own proprietary Memory Stick media which makes migrating from a different make of camera an expensive business. To make matters worse they have now changed to the smaller Memory Stick Duo media which means that even those upgrading from an older Sony CyberShot camera which uses the original full-size Memory Stick will be left with a once-expensive memory cards gathering dust in a drawer. It’s handy from the perspective that I can now seamlessly interchange camera pictures from my Sony Ericsson cellphone camera which uses the same cards, but Sony could have at least provided a full-size Memory Stick adaptor in the package…they don’t and I had to pay the few extra £££s to buy one. The 50MB internal memory is useful if your removable memory runs out, or (as I have done on several occasions now) took the card out to put in my PC and then went out with the camera forgetting to put it back in. The internal memory which is small by today’s standards does of course fill rapidly if you take shots at full resolution or use the movie mode a lot. They have made it difficult to access the internal memory – it only kicks in when the Memory Stick has been removed, and can only be accessed via USB; there are no tools on the camera to access and transfer files between the two memories.

BUILD QUALITY

A lot of effort has been put into the look and feel of this device. The casing is made from a brushed-effect alloy which gives it a classy air, with a chromed plastic for the middle part and your bog standard silvery plastic for the rear. It never feels bulky or obtrusive in the pocket.

FEATURES

There are seven Auto Exposure presets, as mentioned above. They are: Twilight, Landscape (for filming mountains and distant objects), Beach (for shooting sand and sea, therefore enhancing beiges and blues), Snow (for taking shots when you are skiing without being overwhelmed by white), Twilight Portrait (for shooting people in nightime scenes), ISO (for maximum sensitivity in dark conditions), and lastly an assisted auto exposure mode which takes care of most of the difficult settings, but still allows you to go and tinker with them yourself. Of course, a lot of these settings are only any use if you have a tripod! There is also an adjustable autofocus – you can tell the camera the area of the shot you want it to focus on, and you can also quickly adjust and experiment with the exposure setting on the fly by a couple of key presses.

All the bog standard digicam stuff we’ve all come to expect is there of course, and by that I mean self timer (down to either 2 or 10 seconds), variable flash, multi-burst shooting, macro (2.5 cm is the quoted capability of macro), and the ability to mass enlarge, rotate or delete pictures on the camera before transferring them to other media.

The movie mode records MPEG1 video - and on the whole the quality is excellent. Certainly the resulting videos are good enough to put on YouTube – they are sharp, clear and with absolutely no jerkiness whatsoever. No onboard editing features are there however, so you’ll need to rely on whatever editing software is on your PC if you want to do anything with the clips you create.


EASE OF USE

Sony has not really changed their user interface very much over the years, and what changes that have been introduced have been on the whole positive. There is the familiar rotary mode select knob selects between the various auto exposure presets, as well as movie mode. This works in unison with a compass key driven menu system which gives various settings within each mode. For those moving up from an older Sony model, the master camera setup menus are now available from within each auto exposure preset, rather than having their own dedicated slot on the mode selection dial. This is handy if you ever need to go into the “guts” of the camera in the middle of a shot.

There is now a dedicated image playback button (albeit a bit small and fiddly), and as always you push the shutter release to come back out into shoot mode. A rotary lever around the shutter release takes care of the zoom function, and it is a pity that the zoom lens motor is so fast – the slightest touch of the lever has the zoom rocketing in or outward – I found it really difficult to modulate. Handily, there is also a conventional viewfinder which moves with the zoom lens – excellent for when sun is shining on the screen and you can’t see it.

CONNECTIVITY

The only way to access the 50MB internal memory is via USB, and there is a socket on the base of the camera. However, Sony have chosen to combine the AV out and the USB into the same socket meaning that it needs a dedicated lead – fortunately it is supplied, but if you lose it….well it’s an other excuse for Sony to sell you its overpriced accessories. There is also an AC in which allows you to run the camera from mains electricity from a wall socket, but again you will have to buy Sony’s (expensive) adaptor.

SCREEN

The 2.5” LCD display is particularly good; it’s bright, sharp and clear. The main gripe I have here is that it is glossy and therefore impossible to read under bright lighting conditions. My 5 year old Sony DSC-S70 has a matt finished LCD which although not perfect is still readable in sunlight. The on screen display is pretty much standard Sony fare, with live readouts about remaining battery life, memory space and exposure settings but useful explanations and tooltips also appear on screen whenever you turn the preset dial explaining exactly what conditions each auto exposure preset is suited for – far better than the meaningless icons (which are ridiculously small anyway) printed on the dial itself.

IMAGE QUALITY

This has come leaps and bounds over the years. The graininess of older CyberShot Sony cameras under low lighting conditions has been reduced markedly, if not completely eradicated. Under general shooting conditions using just the standard fully automatic AE setting (where most users will probably be anyway) images are clear, sharp and well defined, and even at half resolution - printed out with stunning sharpness on my printer (an HP PhotoSmart 3210 all-in-one). Some of the preset AE functions are a bit hit and miss however – the “Beach” setting for instance produced no noticeable difference when I did a beach scene compared to the standard setting – the blues didn’t look any bluer and the beiges – well didn’t look any “beigier” either!! The reliability of the long exposure “twilight” mode is now a lot better than previous generations of Sony cameras I have used, but as before absolute stillness of the camera is essential. The unit’s small size makes it easier to keep still, but ultimately no excuse for not having a tripod.

CONCLUSION

Overall I have to give this camera a firm five-star rating. It is feature packed, offers tremendous image quality given its small size and coupled with its superb battery life, ease of use and versatility, it is superb value for money. Sure there are minor gripes with the interface, the Sony proprietary storage media isn’t ideal and accessories are expensive. But this little camera is a bargain!


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 200
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Fool-Proof for Absolute Beginners


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