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Sony WX220 review

Ben Pitt
27 Jul 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
174
inc VAT

The Sony WX220 is a tiny point-and-shoot camera with lots of charm

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Specifications

Sensor resolution: 18 megapixels, Sensor size: 18 megapixels, Viewfinder: none, LCD screen: 2.7in (460,800 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 25-250mm, 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/18-33, Weight: 121g, Size (HxWxD): 54x93x22mm

The Sony WX200 took us slightly by surprise last year. On paper this dinky little camera didn't look particularly special, but with dependable image quality, Wi-Fi and a 10x zoom, it made a lot of sense for people looking for a small, capable camera to complement their zoom-less smartphone.

The WX220 is this year's updated model, and the changes are minor. There's NFC for quicker Wi-Fi configuration. The mode switch has disappeared, but this isn't a great loss as the WX200's switch only included three of the available modes, with the others accessible via the rear wheel. Now the wheel takes care of them all, which makes more sense. The lens and sensor appear to be unchanged, but that's no bad thing either. This lens turned in some sharp 18-megapixel photos last year, and its 10x optical zoom is remarkably generous for such a slim camera. We'd have preferred a lower megapixel count to reduce noise levels, but both cameras produce photos that are up to scratch for small prints and sharing online.

The menus have been redesigned, and pressing the Menu button takes you straight into the main menu system. This now resembles the menu pages in Sony Alpha cameras, with tabs for photo, custom, Wi-Fi, playback and setup, plus various sub-tabs. This structure makes it easier to track down a particular setting once you've memorised its location. However, there's no longer a top-level menu for commonly used functions such as exposure compensation and white balance. This is clearly intended as a point-and-shoot camera, and we can't imagine anyone having the patience to go delving into the menu to adjust settings between shots.

^ The new menu system is neatly organised but there's no quick way to access key settings such as ISO speed

Then again, the Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto modes lived up to their names in our tests. Exposures were well judged, with the camera automatically raising the shutter speed to avoid blur when it spotted a moving subject. Superior Auto mode automatically switches to HDR mode for high-contrast scenes and Multi-Frame NR mode for static subjects in low light. HDR is short for high dynamic range, where there's a wide distribution of brighter and darker tones in a scene. HDR mode captures three photos at different exposure settings and combines them to retain as much light and dark tones as possible. Multi-Frame NR uses a similar technique, capturing and combining four frames, but this time to blend them together to average out the noise. Both give a welcome boost to image quality, and worth the longer wait between shots – up from a second to around five for HDR and six for Multi-Frame NR. When time is of the essence, it's easy enough to switch from Superior Auto to Intelligent Auto mode to avoid these techniques being used automatically. There's also a burst mode that captures 10 frames in a second.

^ Multi-Frame NR mode captures four frames in quick succession and combines them to minimise noise levels.

With one of the Auto modes selected, pressing the down button on the navigation pad reveals four controls labelled Brightness, Colour (ranging from Warm to Cold), Vividness and Picture Effect, with the latter covering all the usual toy camera, monochrome and posterized colour effects. This makes up for the inaccessible white balance and exposure compensation controls when shooting in Program mode (they're not available at all in the Auto modes).

The in-camera guide that we liked so much in the Sony A6000 (link) is included here too, but it's not so useful when it advises users to adjust the ISO speed and so on. Still, there's enough relevant advice to help people improve their snaps, such as tips on capturing panoramas and when to shoot in portrait orientation.

The WX200 had Wi-Fi built in, but the WX220 makes configuration easier with the help of NFC. Just holding the camera next to our Nexus 4 phone made the two pair up and reveal a remote viewfinder on the phone. We're disappointed to see that it's no longer possible to record videos from the app, though. There's control over the zoom, self-timer and flash functions, but not autofocus. Photo transfers are better, with options to transfer automatically in remote viewfinder mode, or to browse the camera's contents on the camera or phone before selecting for transfer.

Video quality in our tests was excellent, with a sharp 1080p picture, natural colours and only a light fizz of noise in low light. Autofocus was responsive and the soundtrack was clean and detailed.

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