Review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX7

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A compact and slim camera with huge features such 1080i HD video recording and even capture 3D images? Sony is touting the Cyber-shot DSC-WX7 as one of its highlight cameras, but does the slim body mean big features but sacrifice in quality? Or will the camera outperform our expectations from a sub-$350 still digital camera?

Our verdict on the Cyber-shot DSC-WX7 is after the jump.

  • Score:

    8.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Quality of images and video; compact size and shape; price vs. features

  • The Bad:

    Small buttons difficult to press sometimes; overprocessing at 100% magnification

  • Bottom Line:

    A camera to buy if you want something that works, with a little bit extra.

Design and Features

The camera’s body, like other Sony’s Cyber-shot cameras, is elegant. It features a very slim body, which allows it to fit in one’s pocket. Like many slim cameras, the lens does extrude out, and houses a 5x optical zoom Carl Zeiss lens. It also houses a Exmor R CMOS Sensor with 16.2 megapixels, allowing it to perform in low-light conditions (which is true).

At the back, it has a 2.8-inch LCD display with an array of buttons on the side. The controls are relatively easy, with a switch to flick between camera, movie and 3D Sweep Panorama mode. It also features a circle that acts as a program switch between different settings, while also incorporating the main four buttons on each direction. What’s interesting is that Sony has a “Movie” button independent of the actual shutter button, which is a minor qualm. You also have the standard zoom toggle and the power button at the top. It requires a lot of pressure to get it to turn on, but that is also a minor qualm we’ve noticed when handling it with one hand.

What’s also new is that the camera features a mini HDMI port, and that is used for everything – from charging to showing photos on a television. It also features support for both MemoryStick Pro Duo cards and SD cards – the latter something that Sony has recently adopted, to much fanfare from me. However, while all that is good, it does not have internal storage – so you will be heavily relying on cards, which is a bit of a shame, but expected due to its slim body.

The camera features more than 33 scene presets that detect the subject or situation that you are trying to capture, and while these presets are good – even so far as excellent in some areas – you can still customise it a bit further by changing the ISO settings (maximum is ISO 3200), white balance and focus. The presets include a program and intelligent automatic modes, a background defocus preset that blurs the background and making the subject clearer to see, and even a 3D capture mode to show the image for 3D TVs, which sadly we could not see because we don’t have a 3D television. For video, it’s a different story – there are only two presets.

Picture Quality

Image quality for the camera is excellent. Photos we have taken really look great and colours are mostly realistic, just a tad emphasis on the red. Sharpness is really great. What we also like is how the camera is able to stitch shots together for the panorama mode, as it is almost flawless; and the Superior Auto mode, where it takes several shots and merges all of them together in order to produce more sharper image. However, if you zoom in to 100 percent magnification, you do notice that quality of the image is slightly, by like a small percentage, distorted. Though, its not a major thing to focus on.

Above is an image test of the quality of the photo. It is under “Background Defocus” mode with ISO set to 3200. The image quality above was taken in 16:9 format, and therefore is 12 megapixels. Please note that this image has been compress due to size in order to transfer it to the web.

Images can be taken in two different sizes – in 4:3 screen and 16:9 screen formats. While 4:3 sizes can take full advantage of the 16 megapixels, and decreases to 10MP, 5MP and to VGA quality; 16:9 is limited to 12 megapixels or 2 megapixels. On file type and size, the camera does save files in JPEG, but the image sizes are big – but not 10MB big. If you are going to send this to another person, compress it down.

Video quality is pretty outstanding from a consumer camera, and can record in HD, which is an added bonus. Sharpness is also excellent, and sound is pretty decent, though wind noise can be picked up from the stereo microphone – but we kind of were expecting that as its focus is on still images. Optical zoom extends to video recording, so footage should be a bit more clearer than using digital. You can save the footage in two different formats: AVCHD and MP4. MP4 is limited to 25 frames per second (fps) and suitable for web uploads, while AVCHD is designed for HDTVs – unless you really have a good internet connection to upload this sort of quality. It should be noted that the highest most possible setting – the AVCHD FX quality, which has a frame rate of 24Mbps, is not designed for DVDs and should be uploaded to a Blu-Ray disk.

Conclusions

Concluding, this camera is, despite its thin body, is packed with features that make it one in a few good cameras in a crowded market. With its price tag of $329, it makes this a must buy for those who simply want a camera that just works, with a little bit of extra stuff in between – like the 3D.