Pros Ultra-compact, stunning image quality, great menus
Cons Uses proprietary MemoryStick media, W/T zoom is awkward
Summary As a serious photographer, I wanted a small, pocketable point-and-shoot (P&S) camera to complement my medium format film camera and Nikon dSLR. In an attempt to be somewhat loyal, I tried the Nikon L4 and L3 cameras and was roundly disappointed on several levels. Nikon makes incredible pro-caliber equipment and their lenses are among the best out there, but they are clearly not putting much of their money or effort into the P&S market.
Having owned an old Sony DSC-S50 2.1MP camera for the past 5-6 years, I knew I liked Sony's P&S cameras. Their sensors and algorithms are simply terrific. Point in case: In Nikon's flagship D2X camera, a 12.8MP dSLR that retails for typically well over $3,000, the CMOS sensor used is made by... you guessed it, Sony.
Needless to say, no P&S sensor will compare to that of a professional dSLR, but Sony's quality in this arena is unmistakable. Coupled with Carl Zeiss glass, the potential for remarkable images is certainly very present.
The LCD on the W50 is terrific, a whopping 2.5". This is a substantial increase over the otherwise identical W30 (a mere $20 less), and the same size as the W70 and W100, which, offering nothing beyond the W50 apart from higher pixel counts and a bit more internal memory, are complete overkill in about 95% of any photographic situation. In a field where the masses equate a higher pixel count unilaterally with a better camera, this offering from Sony does a brilliant balancing act.
Unless you're enlarging all of your photos to 20x30" posters, believe me, 6.0MP is MORE than sufficient. Even at poster size, most people would be very hard-pressed to accurately discern the difference between 6.0MP and 7.2MP (the count of the $50 more W70). I routinely have full-bleed 12x18" prints made from the W50 that are absolutely stunning. People can hardly believe they're digital in origin, let alone from a P&S. Suffice it to say, I think the W50 represents the absolute best value in Sony's lineup between performance and price.
The menus are intuitive, descriptive (on screen), and such quasi-pro features (such as a real-time histogram) are nice to have, even if seldom used. I particularly liked the "virtual" wheel menu that mimics the physical selector wheel.
Shooting movies is a breeze, and, while you can't zoom during recording, what you can do is capture 640x480 movies at 30 fps (very nice quality) with audio. It certainly won't replace a full camcorder, but sometimes it's nice to record a short video amidst all the still shots.
I wish this camera offered nearly as much manual control as my old DSC-S50. That camera offered aperture or shutter priority shooting, spot metering, etc. However, the W50 does allow the user to manually set ISO speeds and still lets you do spot metering in program AE mode. It's just enough flexibility to elevate it over a more pedestrian entry-level class of camera.
First shot time is good, considering it's a P&S camera. Shot-to-shot time is exponentially better than the Nikons I tried (which took an epic 6-8 seconds to write the shot and recover when using the flash... daylight shooting wasn't a great deal better).
I like very much that the W50 offers an optical viewfinder, even if it is a bit woebegone. It only offers about 85% coverage and it's not much better than trying to look through a door's peephole, but an optical finder is a valuable addition to ANY digital camera, in my opinion. If nothing else, you can turn off the LCD when battery strength is waning and use the finder to conserve power.
The wide-dispersion flash does a better-than-average job of lighting a decent-sized room. The camera also has a good enough meter to not turn on the flash in auto mode at nearly any reduced-lighting scene, something the Nikon P&S did with annoying consistency. The W50 excels at natural-light photography.
The zoom control, a ring encircling the shutter release, is a bit maddening, but I did get used to it. I tend to use zoom a lot to frame my shots, even with a P&S, and this little ring didn't endear itself to me very well. It's not remotely a dealbreaker, but it's not as intuitive as a rocker switch on the back panel, like most P&S cameras have.
The other thing I'm not fond of with Sonys is their insistence on using their own exclusive media. You'd think Sony would have learned with the whole Betamax debacle, but no. At least they license the MemoryStick technology this time out, so you can buy 3rd-party media. Still, it's notably more expensive than similar speed and capacity SD cards. The decent internal memory (32MB) is very appreciated on this camera, as there will probably be some situation (on vacation, usually) when you could REALLY use a bit more memory to squeeze in those last few photos. The internal memory allows you to do just that. Set the size to a still-formidable 3MP, and you can get another 12-15 photos in.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery cell (included) is pretty robust. Expect to get some 380-400 shots from a full charge, more if you don't over-utilize the LCD.
Finally, I love that this camera (indeed, this line of cameras) has a waterproof "sports pak" case available for it. I would definitely like to try that out on my next snorkeling adventure (the case is good to a depth 10 feet). Slave flash units and snap-on type lens converters are also available.
All in all, this camera is HIGHLY recommended by me if you're looking for a great little ultra-compact digital camera. It's most assuredly worth the extra $20 over the W30, but it's not necessarily worth ponying up an additional $50 to go to the 7.2MP W70.
"I have been selling cameras for 2 years I think for the price this camera is the best thing out"on by Uwgstudent311
Pros small size, big screen, fast shutter, external battery charger
Cons nothing that I have found yet
Summary I have sold cameras for a couple of years and think this is one of the best things sony has done in a long time, and for the price just simply amazing
Pros Good Point & Shoot Capability
Cons No Date/Time Stamp
Summary This is my second CyberShot Camera (P8 now W50). I am disappointed that Sony dropped the Date/Time Stamp feature. Sony said, "The Sony DSC-W50 camera, in addition to other 2006 Cyber-shot camera models, does not have the superimpose function to display the date and time on the image. However, the date and time can be printed on the image from a computer using the bundled software or by connecting the camera to a printer with PictBridge technology." The scenario is... After a long day at work, after picking up the baby from the sitter's, making dinner, seeing him crawl over to the coffee table, pull himself up, scream for my attention, then smile when he sees me look... is a Life-event for a 9 month old that I would easily document with my Sony Point and shoot. Now hold everything, connect to the PictBridge technology to upload and document the picture, but... you don't... because you remember shelling out the extra funds for the 1GB Memory Stick Duo to save time. If the Date&Time Stamp feature is important, this camera doesn't have it.
Pros Compact, weight, Easy Menu and Settings. Huge Screen.
Cons Small size, Controls are close together
Summary This is the third digital camera I have owned, and it is my favorite. I bought this camera for my "less gadgety" wife. She loves the easy menu feature, quick start time (less than one second), and quick cycle time between shots. There is even a burst feature which is like taking a slo-mo movie.
The camera is small, but very sturdy and there is some heft to it giving it a comfortable feel in your hands. Once you get used to the small size, it is quite easy to turn the camera on, change settings and take shots with one hand.
The image quality is very good. I used Steve's Digicam Review to preview the picture quality and color balance before I bought the camera. Colors appear to be well-balanced and true color. The low-light feature is nifty, but as with any low-light situation, you have to steady and brace for the shot.
The price is exceptional when compared to cameras and brands offering the same features and quality. I also highly recommend comparing picture and color quality online before buying. Some of the name brand cameras provide dull, muted colors. Sony provides "true" color, or as close to true as I have found.
Storage and battery life are good too. I bought an extra battery, although I doubt I will run out of juice because the battery pack seems to go for hours. The Sony Duo-Pro 1G stick will provide more than enough memory. The Sony software included with the camera has a neat feature that only uploads new photos when connected eliminating the need to manually sort and/or delete during upload to the PC. Enjoy!
Pros great crisp, vivd photos, large LCD, well-priced
Cons no manual mode, 1000 iso too grainy.
Summary I Love this camera's looks, including it's pocketable size. The photos it takes are vivid and crisp all throughout the 3X zoom range. The advertised high ISO is a disappointment though, just too grainy. Better just use flash. Flash photography is limited also in the telephoto end of the zoom because of the small aperture.Updated
Also, I didn't think the longest shutter speed of 2 seconds would matter much until I had the opportunity of shooting a great moonlit scene.
Two seconds is just not long enough. So all in all, a wonderful camera that can take beautiful photos but with a few limitations