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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC W380 review

Ben Pitt
10 May 2010
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC W380
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

Some promising features including a wide-angle, wide-aperture lens, but the 14-megapixel sensor spoils any chance of high image quality

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Specifications

1/2.3in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (24-120mm equivalent), 108g

It’s getting hard to distinguish between the virtually identical ultra-compact cameras jostling for our attention. Sony’s latest has all the obligatory specs: absurdly high-resolution sensor, 5x zoom lens, optical stabilisation, 2.7in screen and Li-ion battery. It also comes with an SDHC slot – a first for a Sony compact – although it accepts Memory Stick Pro Duo cards too. The lens is less run-of-the-mill, with a bright f/2.4 aperture capturing lots of light at its ultra-wide angle 24mm zoom setting. The f/5.9 aperture for telephoto shots is less remarkable, though.

We love the Sweep Panorama scene preset, which automatically captures a panoramic image simply by slowly rotating the camera. There’s face and smile detection too, but conventional photographic options are fairly limited. 720p HD video is another increasingly common feature, but it’s particularly well implemented here. AVC compression keeps file sizes down and the autofocus and zoom continue working while recording. Videos were noisy, though, even when shooting in daylight.

Ultimately, the W380 is defined by its 14-megapixel sensor. Performance was slow at 3.7 seconds between shots, mainly because the camera took so long to save each photo. Continuous shooting suffered a similar fate, starting at 1.4fps but slowing to 0.5fps after four shots. Meanwhile, with 14 million photosites crammed into a sensor that measures just 11mm across, very little light hits each one. As a result, the miniaturised electronics produce a lot of errors, which manifests itself as noise.

Noise-reduction processing was largely successful when shooting in bright light, but subtle textures such as grass were mistaken for noise and smoothed over too. In gloomier conditions, only the boldest high-contrast details survived the wrath of the noise reduction, which had its work cut out to avoid images being awash with graininess. Otherwise, our test shots revealed vibrant colours but focus was as a little soft, particularly in the corners of frames.

There are some nice features here but overall the W380 fails to stand out. Fujifilm’s F200EXR is a similar but vastly better camera.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
CCD effective megapixels14.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,400 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent24-120mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,320x3,240
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; AVI (MPEG-4)

Physical

Memory slotMemory Stick Pro Duo, SDHC
Mermory supplied45MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)220 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
HDMI output resolutionN/A
Body materialaluminium
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplier5.6x
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight108g
Size52x92x20mm

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£200
Supplierhttp://www.play.com
Detailswww.sony.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speed2 to 1/1,600 seconds
Aperture rangef/2.4 (wide) to f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 7 presets, manual
Additional image controlsdynamic range
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus5cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer