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Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5, one of the world's first compact still cameras with Sweep Panorama in 3D.

|  Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 in Compact Cameras
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Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 front
Daniel Bell reviews the Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5.

Announced in July 2010, the Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 is one of the world's first digital compact cameras to feature 3D sweep panoramas and has as 12.2Mp sensor and 5x optical zoom. The WX5 is available for £219 in black, violet, silver and brown. Another camera to consider in this price range is the Pentax Optio W90 which is available for £210.99 and also features a 5x optical zoom lens as well as a 12.1Mp sensor.

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Features
  • 12.2 megapixels
  • 5x optical zoom/24mm wide angle lens
  • 3D Sweep Panorama
  • Sweep Multi Angle
  • 1080i Full HD movie
  • 2.8inch (7.1cm) Clear Photo LCD plus screen
  • Superior Auto mode
  • Background defocus
  • High-speed continuous shooting
  • Backlight Correction HDR
  • Face Detection
  • Smile Shutter
  • Soft Skin mode
  • D-Range Optimizer
  • Easy Shooting mode
  • In-camera retouching
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 front lens   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 battery compartment
The 5x optical zoom lens is equivalent to 24-120mm in 35mm format.    The camera is powered by a rechargeable lithium NP-BN1 battery.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 rear   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 top
On the rear is a 2.8in LCD screen.   When at its longest length the lens does not extend far out of the camera.

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Handling
The first thing that strikes me about the WX5 is its size, at just 51.9 x 91.7 x 21.5mm it is a very small camera. Its length and width is comparable to that of a credit card and its depth is small enough to fit in your pocket. This camera is going to appeal to a younger crowd who like to take pictures on nights out with friends as it's extremely stylish.

Although the buttons on the WX5 are small, even with larger fingers you shouldn't have too much trouble pressing them, although the on/off buttons does require a firmer press than the other buttons. The camera is ready to take pictures within a couple of seconds of switching on and the 2.8in LCD screen is clear in all light conditions. Gripping the camera is no trouble at all and navigating through the menu is quite simple as well.

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Performance
Whether shooting at the wide-angle or telephoto length the Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor does not disappoint. When viewed at full size there is plenty of detail retained throughout the images and colours are well represented.

Photographers who prefer to leave their camera in auto are spoilt by Sony here with a choice of two; superior auto adjustment which shoots sharp images, reduces blur and noise automatically and intelligent auto adjustment which automatically sets the correct exposure. While testing the camera there wasn't much difference to be seen in the resulting images from the two auto modes.

Those who like to shoot action will find the focus tracking feature useful. By simply selecting your target on screen the camera will follow it around until you are ready to take your picture. No matter where your target is in shot it will remain in focus.

The camera has a few editing options including resizing, red eye correction and unsharp masking which will suit users without any photo editing software.
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 wide angle   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 telephoto
Wide-angle.   Telephoto.

ISO and noise performance
The lowest ISO setting on the WX5 is ISO125 which is slightly higher than usual for a digital compact camera. At ISO125 performance is good and this continues through ISO200, ISO400 and ISO800 with only slight deterioration noticeable. At ISO1600 there is a clear increase in noise which is even more noticeable at ISO3200. These two settings are best avoided for any images which may be used for full-size prints but will be fine for images shared via the internet.
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO125
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO125 Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO200 Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO400
ISO125 ISO200 ISO400
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO800 Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO1600 Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Test chart ISO3200
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200

The auto white-balance does a fantastic job and it is unlikely the average user will want to change this setting. Under the tungsten lighting in our studio there is very little difference between the auto and the incandescent setting. Under the fluorescent lights, the fluorescent setting gives a  warmer feel than the auto white-balance setting.
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting.   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Modes and scene selection
One of the main features of the WX5 is the background defocus mode which performed really well and so did the Sweep Panorama and High-speed continuous shooting. You can shoot panoramas in 3D but you need a 3D TV to view them on. As well as these features the WX5 has a wide range of scene modes to select from including soft skin, soft snap, anti motion blur, landscape, backlight correction HDR, twilight portrait, twilight, hand-held twilight, high-sensitivity, gourmet, pet, beach, snow and fireworks. Below is a selection of images using some of the scene modes available.
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 scene modes: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Background defocus   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 High-speed shooting
Background defocus   High-speed shooting
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Soft skin   Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Landscape

(Left) Soft skin

(Above) Landscape

(Below) Sweep panorama

Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Sweep panorama

On the Sony Cybershot WX-5 videos can be recorded in AVCHD and MPEG-4. 

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Verdict
Overall the WX5 offers plenty of features and good performance at a reasonable price. The 3D Sweep Panorama mode is an extra feature for those with a 3D TV but will probably not appeal to most. For around the £200 mark you are getting a stylish compact camera that will not disappoint and therefore will be money well spent.

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Pros
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Plenty of features
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Image quality
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Small and stylish

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Cons
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 Noise at ISO1600 and ISO3200
Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5 3D TV required to view 3D Sweep Panorama images
FEATURES Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5
HANDLING Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5
OVERALL Sony Cybershot DMC-WX5

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5: Specification
Price £219.00
What comes in the box Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BN1), Battery Charger, Multi Connector Cable (USB, AV), Power Cord, Wrist Strap, CD-ROM
Lens 5x optical zoom, f=4.25-21.25mm (24-120mm 35mm equiv), f/2.4-5.9
Resolution 12.2Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3 inch
Sensor type Exmor R CMOS sensor
Max image size 4320 x 3240
Focus distance 5cm
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO125 - 3200
Metering modes Multi-Point, Centre-Weighted and Spot
Exposure compensation +/- 2.0EV, 1/ 3 EV step
Shutter speed range 1/1600 - 2 sec
White-balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent1, Fluorescent2, Fluorescent3, Incandescent, Flash, One Push, One Push Set
Frames-per-second 10 (Burst mode)
Movie mode AVCHD 1920 x 1080 (50i, Interlace)
Image stabilisation Yes
Monitor 2.8in LCD
Media type Memory Stick Duo, Memory Sick Pro Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC Memory Card
Interface USB 2.0
Power Lithium NP-BN1
Size 51.9 x 91.7 x 21.5mm
Weight 130g

The Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5 costs £219.00 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5

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Photographs taken using the Sony Sony Cybershot DSC-WX5

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