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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 review

Ben Pitt
12 Oct 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

Small, fast and friendly, but image quality is disappointing

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Specifications

1/2.3in 18.0-megapixel sensor, 20.0x zoom (25-500mm equivalent), 165g

We've become used to having 20x zooms in pocket-sized cameras, but the Sony WX300 sets a new standard for miniaturisation. At just 26mm thick and 165g, it slips easily into jeans pockets. There's no skimping on the features, though, with a 3in LCD screen, mode dial, rear wheel and integrated Wi-Fi. The battery isn't particularly big but it gives 500 shots from a single charge – almost double the average for pocket ultra-zoom cameras.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300

We appreciate the light, slim design but we'd have preferred for the camera to be a little wider. The buttons to the right of the screen are tiny and there's not a huge amount of unadorned space to hold onto. Something to grip onto on the front would have been welcome, too.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300

Otherwise, this is a rewarding camera to use. It's quick to focus, and can rattle off a photo every 0.8 seconds. Continuous shooting is at 6.6fps for 10 frames, and there's an eight second wait while it's saving them before it's ready to go again. In most shooting modes, there's quick access to brightness, colour (for warmer or cooler tones), vividness and creative effects. These functions are likely to mean more to casual users than traditional controls such as exposure compensation and white balance. Those are available too in Program mode for those who want them. We doubt that many people will begrudge the lack of manual exposure controls, but the inability to move the autofocus point might be more frustrating.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300

The Wi-Fi implementation is friendlier than most. The second function in the camera's menu is labelled Ctrl with Smartphone. The accompanying iOS or Android apps are straightforward, with the ability to capture photos, videos and zoom in and out and control the flash and self-timer. This simplicity means a smart, uncluttered interface, with a preview that fills the smartphone's screen in portrait orientation. 1.5-megapixel copies of photos are transferred within a couple of seconds of capture, with options to forward them directly to another app. However, it's not possible to jump directly to browsing the camera's card contents. To do this, we had to terminate the connection, put the camera into playback mode and then select a Send to Smartphone option from the menu. Browsing and copying was fast, though, with a choice of resolutions and support for MPEG-4 (but not AVCHD) video files.

VIDEO AND IMAGE QUALITY

Video quality was good rather than excellent. Colours looked a little flat, and low-light clips were quite scruffy. We're not too keen on the interlaced format that the camera records by default, although it's possible to avoid this by switching from AVCHD to MPEG-4 capture. This limits recording to 1,440x1,080 rather than the usual 1,920x1,080 pixels per frame (with clips stretched to widescreen shape on playback) but it didn't damage picture quality too much.

Image quality was generally OK but neither the sensor nor the lens stood up to scrutiny – or to comparisons with rival cameras. Focus in wide-angle shots was sharp in the centre of frames but deteriorated towards the edges. As we zoomed in, it got worse in the centre too. At a 300mm (equivalent) focal length, it was trailing in last place for focus compared to other pocket ultra-zoom cameras. It stayed in last place at the full 500mm zoom extension, too.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 sample shot

Details in this wide-angle shot look good enough to eat

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 sample shot

Focus in wide-angle shots is much better in the centre than it is towards the edges

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 sample shot

Focus is a little soft in this medium-telephoto shot, giving a slight haze to details

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 sample shot

Things are looking decidedly syrupy at the full zoom extension at ISO 250

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 sample shot

Noise reduction is already working hard at ISO 400

Meanwhile, the 18-megapixel sensor struggled with noise when scenes demanded fast ISO speeds. At ISO 400 and above, subtler details were replaced by smudgy noise reduction, and ISO 1600 shots looked decidedly scruffy. Shooting shady subjects at the full zoom extension produced a double whammy of soft focus and heavy noise reduction, resulting in nondescript smears of colour. We got some great results from the 18-megapixel sensor in the Sony WX200 a few months ago, but this doesn't appear to be the same sensor – noise levels were significantly higher.

It's a shame, because the WX300 has a lot going for it. We could have overlooked a few quibbles regarding image quality, but these problems were visible even at modest viewing sizes. For us, that knocks it out of the running and the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS is the better buy.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
CCD effective megapixels18.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution460,800 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom20.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent25-500mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,896x3,672
File formatsJPEG; AVCHD, MP4 (AVC)

Physical

Memory slotSDXC, Memory Stick Pro HG Duo
Mermory supplied50MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)500 shots
ConnectivityUSB, micro HDMI, Wi-Fi
Body materialaluminium and plastic
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplierN/A
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB cable
Weight165g
Size57x96x26mm

Buying Information

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

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangef/3.5 (wide), f/6.5 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 7 presets, manual
Additional image controlsnone
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus5cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, spot, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, panorama, HDR, 3D