Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 review
Smartphones have decimated sales of compact cameras, but the WX200 is ready to lead the charge for a comeback. It's the smallest camera we've ever seen to use a standard 1/2.3in sensor, and yet Sony has managed to fit a 10x zoom and Wi-Fi.
There's only room for a 2.7in screen, but the limited space beside it has been used well, with a wheel, a small scattering of buttons and a mode switch. The wheel acts as a mode dial too, which is a little odd but works reasonably well. The camera had a minor seizure each time we presented it with a blank memory card, complaining of a database error and a low battery until we waded through the Setup options and reformatted the card.
Elsewhere, performance was excellent, taking two seconds to switch on and one second between shots. Tricky lighting conditions sometimes increased image processing times, but even then it could still take a shot every 1.6 seconds. Continuous mode ran at either 10fps or 2fps, and lasted for 10 frames.
The PlayMemories app for Android and iOS can control the camera remotely and handle wireless transfers. It worked perfectly on a third-generation iPad, and we're delighted to see remote shooting for videos as well as photos. There's not much control over settings, though – we don't need extensive control but an option to set the autofocus point would have been handy. Wireless transfers were handled elegantly, with selections made either on the camera or in the app.
The Android app worked fine on a Samsung Galaxy S3, with the same set of functions as the iOS app. Our tests with an HTC One V were much less successful, though, with frequent lost connections and a stuttering live preview that made it almost impossible to compose shots.
The camera also supports PC transfers across a home network, configured using the PlayMemories Home software, which must be downloaded from the web. The camera doesn't offer direct uploads to social media sites over a home network – no great loss from our point of view.
Videos are recorded in AVCHD or MPEG-4 format, and picture quality was excellent. The zoom and autofocus motors were responsive and virtually silent, but optical stabilisation wasn't as effective as on the Panasonic DMC-SZ9. It can take up to ten 13-megapixel photos while recording, but details in these photos were poor. We suspect that the camera is simply enlarging the 1080p (2-megapixel) video frames to 13 megapixels rather than capturing simultaneous 1080p video and full-resolution photos.
Picture noise and battery life
In the context of this type of digital camera, a bit surprised this Sony model has been awarded Best Buy status, given that some picture noise is mentioned at the base setting of ISO 100 (albeit for darker colours only). Guess it depends how much weight you give to image quality where, according to the review, the Canon Ixus 230 HS has the edge.
Also, can't see any reference to battery life other than the figure listed in the specs (ie 220 shots), a figure which happens to be the same as for the Panasonic DMC-SZ9, but for the latter model this is described in the respective review as follows:
"Battery life may be an issue, though. Even with Wi-Fi disabled, it's rated at a meagre 220 shots".
Will wait for other reviews of the Sony DSC-WX200 before making a final decision to buy or not.
By capers626 on 27 Mar 2013
Thanks for your comments. Naturally, we take image quality very seriously, but we recognise that it only needs to be good enough for a typical user's needs. By my reckoning, the WX200's image quality passes that test.
You're right that battery life is disappointing here - my bad for not flagging it up. All three cameras I've reviewed recently with 10x zooms and Wi-Fi (Sony WX200, Panasonic SZ9, Canon Ixus 255 HS) have a 220-shot battery life. So while it's a bit annoying, it won't necessarily affect people's buying decision. I singled out the Panasonic because it was the first of the three that I'd reviewed, but it looks like this is the new normal for ultra-compact cameras.
By Ben_Pitt on 28 Mar 2013
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