"Excellent Design ....but Quality Control Varies"5.0 starson by aversetospam
Pros: This camera packs many desirable features into a remarkably small unit. Decent wide angle and telephoto, HD video, panorama, reasonable low light sensitivity, effective optical stabilization. With the small size, I take it everywhere
Cons: Current Sony quality control not up to TQM standards. A W310 froze up out of the box. On return, I moved up to W350 - with defective LCD screen. Exchanged for W350 with no defects. Battery does not recharge by USB. Must use external charger.
Summary: This tiny point and shoot camera is a gem. Though the image quality is not up to that of a first rate SLR, the W350's size, decent optics, and ease of use allow you to get darned good pictures you would otherwise miss. It is difficult to capture a ... Expand full review
Summary: This tiny point and shoot camera is a gem. Though the image quality is not up to that of a first rate SLR, the W350's size, decent optics, and ease of use allow you to get darned good pictures you would otherwise miss. It is difficult to capture a scene without a camera, and this camera is so small I take it everywhere. Small size and ease of use allow you to catch subjects with less fuss than a SLR.
Lens - the wide angle is a bit better than the norm in point and shoots, and the zoom is fine. The ability to zoom in and out while doing video (albeit with a grinding sound) is a plus. The reviews noting some softness in the image and some granularity at high ISO are correct. I have not found this to be much of a problem with ordinary prints and screen images..
Sensor - I shoot with the flash off whenever possible to avoid spooking subjects, to avoid flatness in the image and to eliminate harsh shadows. The sensor was sensitive enough to produce decent images with indoor natural light.
Optical image stabilization - this feature works exceptionally well, both in video and still photo modes. True image stabilization is a large plus, particularly in low light.
Flash - so tiny as to not be very useful. Good thing the sensor and image stabilization are good.
Panorama - this feature produces 180 degree panoramas with ease.
Video and sound - HD 720 works surprisingly well, with somewhat tinny sound from the small built in microphone. Not a replacement for a dedicated video unit, but great for capturing stuff on the fly.
Controls - no need to read the manual. I found the controls intuitive.
Battery - so far, good battery life. At $40 for an extra battery, I am trying to go with only one. The battery does not recharge via USB. One must remove the battery and use an external charger, placing strain on the little battery / SD card door.
Build Quality: Nice brushed aluminum body with good hand feel. The small door for the battery and SD card compartment may be a weak spot with frequent use.
Quality control -- Current Sony quality control does not appear to be up to legendary Japanese TQM standards. I originally purchased a W310. It froze up out of the box and continued to freeze up every few start ups. On return, I moved up to the W350 by paying for the price differential. The brand new W350 had a dark blob in one corner of the LCD screen. I exchanged it for another W350. No defects detected to date. The moral of the story -- check out your purchase for defects carefully during the exchange period.
External connectionsProprietary video out and download to USB cable. I wish that manufacturers went with a standard micro USB connector. Hot shoe for flash and external microphone plug would be nice, but what do you want in a camera of this size?
Bottom Line: This camera is an elegant and highly functional gem. Very good performance for the money. But take care in checking it out on purchase. My 5 star rating for this item is premised on the assumption that the quality problems I ran into were idiosyncratic.