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Sony Cyber Shot 12.1 MP DSC-W510
Feb 11, 2012 (Updated Feb 22, 2012)
Review by Alan Lake
Rated a Very Helpful Review
This is a low end digital camera. So low end that it reminds me of cameras produced 3 years ago. I would never have thought it was released a year ago as of this initial posting. I guess I just don't understand. Needless to say, I am very disappointed in the lack of features and the quality of some of the auto features of this particular camera. And the more I look at the photos, the most I hate this camera.
Recommend this product?
I would not recommend this camera to anybody. Spend the money and get a more expensive Sony. At approximately 50 dollars more, the Sony WX-9 is a far superior point and shoot. Or, if money is an option, I also reconnend the Nikon L22, which is at the same price point. I assume the L23 and L24 are other good options, but I have not played with either yet.
My comparison between the Nikon Coolpix L22 and the Sony Cybershot W510.
Both cameras are in the same price range and perform many of the same functions. And while the Sony has a much easier Panorama, the L22 has better picture quality. The main reason I recommend the L22 over the W510 is the picture quality. The L series appears to be a good, low-end entry level camera.
I feel that the Sony WX-9 is also an entry level camera, at around $150. I recommend this camera over both the L22 and W510.
Let’s start with picture quality and the positives. Generally speaking, this camera exposes pictures in bright sunlight well. Some of the pictures I took, which had both dark and light environments in the same picture, had objects that were easy to see in both the dark and light areas. Not all cameras do this. I have not experienced this with my Nikon D5100 SLR (I’m not even sure how to make this multi-exposure effect happened, if it is possible). With my D5100 I either focus on a dark subject or a lighted subject. Not both. So I was amazed because I was able to see both dark and light environment so well in the same photo.
I found that the camera was able to get both medium-close objects and far away objects in focus in the same shot. While not perfect and no where near as good as a high aperture on my 2 SLR cameras; it was still pleasing to see. I did not find any way to change the aperture manually on this camera.
If you want just the opposite; there is a custom setting that you can use which just gets the subject in focus, and blurs everything else. I assume the camera decreases the aperture (just a guess).
A note about using a high aperture. You do not get as much detail and crispness with a high aperture. While you get near and far objects in focus, you do get some scattering of light. I do not advise using a higher setting than 16. Just my opinion.
This camera has a feature I haven’t seen until December of 2011. It is the ability to do a sweeping panorama shot. This is a neat option that I really like.
There are a lot of negatives in my opinion. While this point and shoot is an entry level camera, these negatives need to be stated. If you are someone that does not like these negatives, then you need to put some money down and get a high-end $300 to $500 point and shoot camera. My advice with computers and cameras is get the best you can afford. I have almost always found that buying quality equipment now means you don’t have the desire to replace it later.
Colors are not that good. A picture of stucco (appeared to) have 3 pixels of color. It was hard to tell what the surface was if you didn’t know what the object was. I describe it as “it was missing dimension”. Other pictures seemed a little washed out. So I found it hard to visualize 3D objects. With other cameras, I found it was clearer to see how a 3D object is shaped. Other photos that I took just did not jump out at me. Colors in the sky were just blah. Sunrises were not very moving.
This is the biggest complaint I have. I cannot stand the colors being recorded (or lack of) in this camera. This is the biggest deal breaker for me.
Differences in color and pixilation are really bad at high ISO’s. And the camera commonly used a high ISO in medium light (in automatic settings). I don’t feel the ISO should be that high in the light I took the photo in.
Graininess (noise) is bad even in bright sunlight. This leads to less sharpness and a horrible picture if you blew it up. My opinion is to keep your printed photos as 4x6 inches. Of course I am very conservative in how much I want my pictures blown up. Other people will definitely disagree with me.
Blurriness is very present in most settings, especially when zoomed. You have to use a tripod (or bean bag) when using zoom. Yes it has an anti-blur feature but I found that it did not work very well. In bright light you should not have this issue unless your hands are shaking or you are shooting on a moving object. Stick with bright light with this camera. But keep in mind that there are other point and shoot cameras that can handle darker situations if that is what you want.
This camera has slow multi picture taking ability. On simple settings this isn’t as big of a problem as it is in intelligent auto mode. This is expected for an entry level camera and I can’t really complain about it much. My Sony WX-9 has the same problem.
I have not had the intelligent auto feature on any other cameras I have owned so far. And so far I am loving this feature. Definitely a feature you should consider no matter what camera you get, it just may go by a different name.
Do not use this camera in the dark. You will get a lot of graininess. A LOT of graininess (also call noise when referring to digital cameras). You can compensate for this by using a low ISO setting and/or a tripod. Small/compact cameras are supposed to be portable and used on the fly (in my usage anyways). A tripod just slows us down.
The L22 does not have this problem to this degree. The WX-9 does not have this problem to this degree. My 18 month oldDroid X does not have this problem to this degree. This is another reason I recommend the L22 over this camera.
Just keep in mind that the previous 3 mentioned cameras do not take great photos in the dark without a flash. But they do take good pictures in dark environments. But I wouldn't hang any of them up on my walls if that was your next question.
I have an issue with the pixilation of this camera, but that is just me. After having two 16 MP cameras, 12 MP just seems really bad. For someone that hasn't had a 16MP camera, you won't know what you're missing.
One of the things I learned recently is many point and shoot cameras exaggerate blues and reds. I found that mostly true with this camera. But I did not like the sun rise and sun set photos I took (maybe a tripod and another setting would have helped). The L22 exaggerated Reds and blues much more than this camera. And yes, this exaggeration is a good thing for the general public. In certain situations, I like this exaggeration. It can be a good thing. Not something to worry about when buying a push and shoot camera.
The video quality was also bad. It does not shoot in HD (neither does the L22, but my Droid X does). I guess I should expect a sub $100 camera to not have this feature. I state this as a major complaint because most of us have cell phones which video tape in HD. And some of these phones (after the discount for subscribing to their service package) are the same price as this camera. This is a deal breaker for me also. But since it is now my daughter’s camera, the video won’t be used much anyways.
You have 3 modes to choose from; still photos, panorama, and video. Instant panorama picture taking is new to me. While there is software that will help you do a panorama with several still pictures taken at different times; the cameras with this feature make it really easy to do panorama’s on the fly, on location, and with no computer needed. Want a panorama picture taken in 1-2 seconds? Then this is the way to go. The other panorama option is to take multiple pictures, and put it together yourself or with a computer program. My really nice D5100 SLR does not have this panorama sweep feature and I wish it did.
When my Uncle uses his EOS 60D to make panorama’s he has to download the still photos on a computer and let a program do the work for him. But the end result can be of a higher quality.
The options for still pictures are… Intelligent auto-Exposure adjustment with automatic setting Program auto-Auto exposure with adjustable settings SCN-Scene selection (you have high ISO sensitivity, Soft snap, landscape, twilight portrait, twilight, gourmet, pet, beach, and snow.) Steady shot- Helps decrease blurriness.
For still picture mode you can select 12 MP, 8MP, 5MP, or VGA in 4x6 mode; or 9MP 16:9 or 2MP 16:9.
Some other settings in still photo mode you can control (through a different section of the menu) are
Single shot or burst
Negative 2 to positive 2 manual exposure settings
Automatic scene recognition
Smile detection sensitivity
Auto face detect on/off
Sweep panorama setting are very similar to the program mode of the still photo mode.
Video is only VGA and QVGA.
You have less settings with video than with still photos. But this is not an issue in my book.
You can control over exposure, WB settings, and metering.
On the back top of the camera body you have the zoom bar, slider for the shooting style (still, panorama, or video)
In the middle right and bottom right you have…
A view/playback button
A cross key that controls flash, timer, smile sensor, display settings, and a center enter button.
The minimal number of buttons is perfect for a non-tech-savvy individual
Specialized Menu options
These are the menu options you can permanently set for any of your settings. If you do easy mode you will not have these options.
-Grid line on/off
-Display resolution quality setting
-Digital zoom on/off
-Red eye reduction on/off
-Language setting (English French Spanish and Italian)
-Function guide on/off
-Display color background
-Power save stamina/standard/off
-Video out (NTSC or PAL)
-USB output: mass storage or ppt/mtp
-Lun settings Multi/single
-Card settings: Format, create/change/delete folder, copy, file number reset.
-And your time and date settings.
You also have an easy mode. It is a set it and forget setting. You have almost no control. This is a setting for people like my father who does not even own a computer.
VR (Virbration reduction)
It has a setting called blur reduction, this is not a true vibration reduction. As it was explained to me, this camera just increases the shutter speed and ISO settings. I do not like the photos from this mode.
This is a compact camera. It is easily carried in my pocket with my wallet at the same time or in a compact digital camera case. It is small enough that it can fit with my camcorder in my camcorder case. It is virtually identical to my WX-9 in size and shape. Very small. Definitely one of the smallest digital cameras on the market and smaller than the L22 (or any AA powered camera).
If you want a small camera, this series is one of the best. I can easily fit this camera in my jeans pocket with my wallet. It is so small it gets lost in my backpack’s outer pocket.
It really is too small to have any ergonomics added in. The buttons are easy to use for a small hand and the camera is relatively easy to hold on to. Bigger hands will not like it though. Nothing to really complain about since the buttons are placed well. There is a wrist loop that I find necessary due to the small size of this camera.
The screen is fairly small compared to other cameras. This is ok for me since I don’t do my picture viewing on my camera. The detail is as good as on my computer (when compared at the same dimensions) so I have no complaints. The quality appears to be as good as my WX-9. Nothing to complain about here, the screen is good.
Macro is around 2 inches. Not a macro camera. The L22 has an actual Macro button which I really liked.
In continuous shooting mode I was able to get 2-3 photos per second. Intelligent auto is 3-5 seconds for one photo.
There is a shutter lag of about half a second.
Varied from 5.4 MB to 1.9 MB. It records in JPG (still photos) and AVI (video).
There is no analog view finder, you have to use the LCD screen. Not a good thing in bright light but you can set the brightness to compensate slightly for this. Every camera (and phone) I have used has this same problem.
It is a 4x zoom lens.
Pretty quick and accurate. Takes less than a second to focus on an object in my tests. It also doesn’t have an issue finding the object but then again I found that focus wasn’t perfect at times.
Average. Nothing special and it works ok. I think my complaints with the flash are because of the poor pictures the camera produces, not the flash.
It accepts SD cards or Sony memory stick formats. YES!!! Sony does not force you to use just Sony memory sticks any more. It only accepts 1 memory card.
The battery it came with is a Sony Type N lithium ion MP-BN1. 3.6 volts and 630mAh. You can expect it to last for 3 hours with heavy usage or the whole 16 hour day with light usage. You have to charge the battery externally with the AC to DC charger it comes with. I don’t know of any way to charge the battery while leaving the battery inside the camera. I also do not know of a way to charge it with my various USB chargers and 12 volt chargers. Yet another deal breaker.
About the rating
I love Sony products but I see no reason for the W510 digital camera to be an option for the general public; unless you don’t have a cell phone and need a dirt cheap digital camera (and can’t get an L series point and shoot from Nikon). It sucks in dark environments, automatic ISO settings seem funky, and the color in the photos is disappointing. For those reasons I give is a 1. And because of what else is out there in this price range(and my positive experience with the Nikon L22 and WX-9) I just cannot recommend this camera to anyone. And if you truly want a disposable digital camera, there are cheap 20 dollar cameras out there for those purposes.
Length (depth): 3/4 inches
Width: 4 3/4 inches
Height: 2 5/32 inches
Weight is listed at around 4 ounces.
Capacity: 1 Lithium ION NP-BN1 battery and one memory card (SD or memory stick).
Price: My uncle (who bought it for my dad, then he gave it to my daughter) paid 117 for the camera and case. Too much in my opinion. Epinions.com lists it on various sites for 80 to 120, as of this February 2012 posting.
This is a low end digital camera. I just cannot recommend it. I am disappointed with the pictures and the automatic features. There are much better cameras in this price range. Get those instead. I would buy the L22 instead. If you are in the market for an inexpensive point and shoot, then I suggest checking out the Nikon L23 and L24.
©Alan Lake's Kitchen 2012
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Amount Paid (US$): 107
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