Pros: 16.2MP, Hi-res video, 3D panoramic mode, smile/facial detection, simple PC sync, red eye reduction
Cons: little built-in memory, no case, tiny buttons
Santa, err... my stepson purchased this small bundle of technological joy for my wife for the holidays. I already own the Sony Cybershot DSC-H9 and back in 2007, it cost me around $450 for a mere 8.1 megapixels. About the size of eighteen credit cards stacked together, this WX9 powerhouse packs a significant technological punch and comes in at an astounding 16.2 megapixels. My stepson found a great "holiday deal" for this sleek WX9 at around $130 when it usually sells for about $160 to $200 currently.
One thing I noticed is that the controls were quite intuitive for someone who has owned (or currently owns) a Sony digital camera. In fact, many of the controls and sub-menus are similar to my DSC-H9 camera. While the DSC-H9 is a bit more involved, this WX9 model is the more compact "tourist" version of my H9. Even though the megapixel rate is double and the technology is a bit more advanced. I attribute that to the five years between production dates of the two cameras. Most people will learn the controls rather quickly, still others might take longer if they happen to be a technophobe or hate reading the manual.
Syncing the camera to a PC is really simple - once I installed the included software. I plug it in and the camera automatically transfers the images - it even organizes them in a calendar for me!
With the included 2-part sync cable plugged into each other, it becomes the camera's charging system while one half of the cable is the sync cable for the PC. I like that I don't have to mess with external charging of batteries like I do with my DSC-H9 camera.
There is the possibility to store music in this camera, but we chose NOT to go there. After all, this is a camera and we like our separate MP3 players. There are two tiny speakers on the top of the WX9 but there is zero bass response, so best to have an MP3 player and some headphones.
I used this WX9 with a micro-tripod and the camera’s built-in timer. Yes, it has various time lengths. With the H9 I have to use a remote - which is odd since those pictures show me holding the remote. Although it makes for better stealthy spy shots since I don't need to be touching the camera with the H9.
What’s in the Box?
The camera, a battery, nylon wrist-leash, the software CD, the wall charger / USB PC link, the manual and the Sony accessory booklet.
This WX9 is the entry point for Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor which provides faster shooting with better low-light quality that was once only found on higher-end cameras. The WX9 really does pack a lot of technology into such a micro digital camera. The hi-res 3-inch rear LCD display, while not articulated like on the H9, is large enough for any user. While the H9 also incorporates a “peephole view finder” the WX9 excludes it. Add in a Carl Zeiss, f2.6, 25mm (equivalent) retractable lens with full HD movie capture at the touch of a single button and the WX9 is a powerhouse in a small package.
WHAT WE LOVE:
There are THREE 3D shooting modes! The best part is that we can shoot in 3D and view them on a 3D-enabled TV. The impressive Panoramic Mode allows us to shoot a huge static expanse like a section of the Grand Canyon - it shoots separate images as we sweep the camera lens to the side or up and down. Take up to fifteen images and the camera converts it to one 3D panoramic image. The LCD screen will give you an idea of what you captured, but the real magic happens when you view it in 3D on a 3D TV.
I love that the lens retracts so there’s no need for a lens cap to lose. My wife loves the panorama feature. I like that the controls and sub-menus are quite similar to a camera I already own. Some might feel as if the controls and menus are a bit laborious and hard to navigate at first. We love that the highest resolution is 16.2 megapixels which means the quality of the images is great. For our needs, shooting at the 5M setting is sufficient, but it’s nice to know we can raise the quality two more notches if need be.
My wife LOVES the “Easy Mode” whereby the rear display’s font is bigger and more simplistic. In easy mode, the camera is even more of a simplistic point-and-shoot camera. I found the speed from picture to picture is fairly impressive for a small camera. In other words, this camera doesn't lag much. The picture and video quality are top-notch for cameras in this class.
I like being able to white-balance the camera to various lighting scenarios. For instance, when shooting under fluorescent lights, people's faces tend to look like they jaundice. Well, white balancing the camera to fluorescent solves that issue. Other modes include daylight (which is more blue), cloudy, incandescent (light bulbs which tend to be more red) and flash.
I also like that the lens is 25mm to 125mm, which means you can squeeze more people into that group photo without having to back up to across the street.
I like that there is an HDMI port on the camera so I can view pictures or video at hi-res quality.
We went to a Los Angeles Kings game and took the camera - my wife hadn't had it even a week. I'm SO GLAD I used the included wrist strap because when the Kings scored one of their goals I jumped and the camera would have gone flying. Instead it looped around my wrist a couple times. WHEW! I dodged being beaten and ridiculed by my redhead of a wife on that one! You might be asking, "Why didn't she have the camera in her hands?" I wanted to take a picture of the scoreboard when they flashed congrats to my wife and I for our anniversary - that I pre-planned. I got the shot, but (on auto) the lights of the scoreboard were a bit washed out. Perhaps due to my setting or the fact that the lights are LEDs.
WHAT WE’RE ON THE FENCE ABOUT:
Personally, I don’t like that the buttons are so tiny. Luckily my wife can use her fingernails but for someone with large fingers and hands this will become infuriating.
The 5X optical zoom length could be longer.
Battery life could be a bit better as it's rated at 210 non-flash pictures. If you shoot a lot of images and video, a second (stand by) battery is recommended.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE:
At this price-point, the camera should have come with a bit larger internal memory. Depending on the chosen resolution setting, you can only take about four to seven pictures before the camera memory is full and needs to be downloaded to a PC. And it might have been nice if Sony included an inexpensive Neoprene sleeve-type case to protect the large LCD display from scratches.
The tiny control buttons might infuriate some older folks or folks with large fingers, otherwise the younger crowd might not care.
Another concern to me (not so much my wife) is that the image quality deteriorates if you need to create large format images from lower-resolution settings. They really pixelate. So if you're taking important pictures for long-term safe-keeping, best to keep the camera on the highest-res setting. To that end, I find that the images get a bit "soft" when viewed on the highest 16 meg setting.
At higher ISO settings (above 800) and in darker scenarios, the colors can be washed out or pastel and not too sharp either.
How Does the Sony DSC-WX9 compare?
Typical Continuous Shooting: (more is better) The DSC WX9 is rated at 7.7 fps while the Canon Powershot Elph 300 HS is rated at 3.2 fps, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC W570 - 1.5 fps and the Nikon Coolpix S4000 comes in at 0.7 fps.
Time to First Shot: (less is better) WX9 : 1.1 seconds, Elph 300 HS: 1.3, Coolpix S4000: 2.9 and the W570: 2.3 seconds.
Shot-to-Shot in Flash Mode: (less is better) WX9: 3.8, Canon 300HS: 3.6, Coolpix S4000: 4.1 and the W570: 5.1 seconds.
Shot-to-Shot NO FLASH: (less is better) WX9: 1.7, Canon 300HS: 2.2, Coolpix S4000: 2.5 and the W570: 4.6 seconds.
Typical Shutter Lag: (less is better) WX9: 0.4, Elph 300 HS: 0.5, Coolpix S4000: 0.6 and the W570: 0.4 seconds.
First and foremost, you’ll need to purchase a memory card. The manual lists all the compatible types. I chose an eight-gig mini-SD HC card with an adapter to fit in the camera. I think that’s plenty of space for my wife. I picked one up on Ebay for $8.33 including shipping. Be prepared to pay at least double that in a retail store. If you plan on shooting a bunch of video or store lots of music on the device, I would suggest going with a 16 or 32 gig card. Also, if you plan on shooting video, make sure to get a class 4 (or better) card. Be careful when shopping online for a card because the really low-priced cards tend to be lower quality (class 2) which translates to slower video speeds or not being able to capture video well at all. I should mention that formatting the memory card was a breeze in this camera.
I also purchased protection film for both of our camera’s LCD displays. Since the WX9’s display is always exposed, it’s a good idea to limit the scratches both being able to see an image on the display and for resale.
I purchased a nylon case large enough to hold the camera, manual, lens cleaning fabric and other accessories she might want to bring along to the dog park, the beach or on vacation.
I also picked up a hard case just for the camera. This allows my wife to toss (just) the camera in her purse and not worry about any damage or scratches. So we keep the camera protected in a hard shell case, then inside the black nylon case.
You might also want a micro-tripod for those times you’d like a longer exposure or a self-portrait when no one else is around to take the shot.
Some of you might want the luxury of having a second battery. If you do, you'll want an external and/or car charger as well.
Finally my wife has a digital camera to capture all of those "cutesy" dog images. Although our youngest German Shepherd has yet to figure out that the flash is not a bad thing because he's a bit freaked out by the light. My wife has also become a film maker of sorts - as she tries to capture movies of the dogs with some movement and artistic flair. Good for her. Now she can't complain about missing all those "Kodak moments." All is good in our household.
For the money, this little digi-cam delivers good quality at a reasonable price. I rate this camera a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 yet rounded up for all of the features this little nugget has.
Camera Type: Compact · Light Field Camera
Resolution: 16.2 Megapixel HD
Recording Format: 1080i (HDTV)
LCD Screen Size: 3 in.
Optical Zoom: 5x
Features: Image Stabilization · Face Detection
Weight: 0.27 lb.
Image Quality Camera Resolution: 16.2 Megapixel
Image Resolutions: 640 x 480 · 2592 x 1944 · 1920 x 1080 · 3648 x 2736 · 4608 x 3456
Image Sensor Type: CMOS Video
Video Resolutions: 1920 x 1080
Video Format: MPEG-4
Lens Focus Type: Autofocus
Lenses Optical Zoom: 5x 35mm
Zoom Lens: 25 - 125 mm
Focal Length: 25 - 125 mm
Exposure Control Aperture Range: f2.6/f6.3 (w/t)
Shutter Speed: 1 - 1/1600 sec
White Balance: Auto · Daylight / Sunny (Preset) · Cloudy (Preset) · Fluorescent (Preset) · Incandescent (Preset) · Flash (Preset)
Frames Per Second: 10 Frames
Flash Flash Type: Built-In
Flash Functions: Flash Off · Auto Flash · Slow Sync
ISO Speeds: Auto · 100 · 200 · 400 · 800 · 1600 · 3200
Storage Memory Type: Memory Stick Duo · SD Card · SDHC Card · SDXC
Card Compression Type: JPEG
Included Features Self Timer: 2 Sec. · 10 Sec.
Built-in Microphone: With Built-in Microphone
Tripod Mount: With Tripod Mount Viewfinder / Display Viewfinder: Without Viewfinder
Interfaces Interface Type: USB · HDMI
Power Supply Battery Type: Lithium-ion Battery
Dimensions Width: 3.75 in. Depth: 0.78 in. Height: 2.25 in. Weight: 0.27 lb.
Warranty : 1 Year Miscellaneous