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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC W380 review

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


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 megapixels 14.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 2.7in
LCD screen resolution 230,400 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 24-120mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,320×3,240
Maximum movie resolution 1280×720
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; AVI (MPEG-4)


Memory slot Memory Stick Pro Duo, SDHC
Mermory supplied 45MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 220 shots
Connectivity USB, AV
HDMI output resolution N/A
Body material aluminium
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier 5.6x
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 108g
Size 52x92x20mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £200

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed 2 to 1/1,600 seconds
Aperture range f/2.4 (wide) to f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 7 presets, manual
Additional image controls dynamic range
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 5cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer