Flash Off • Auto Flash • Fill-in Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash • Slow Sync
With LCD Panel
LCD Panel Size
LCD Screen Resolution
LCD Protected Position
Without LCD Protected Position
2 x AA Batteries
Mp3 Built In
With Built-in Microphone
With Built-in Speaker
Apple Mac OS X • Microsoft Windows 2000 • Microsoft Windows 98 • Microsoft Windows 98SE • Microsoft Windows ME • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Software • USB Cable • Video Cable • Driver • 2 x AA Rechargeable Batteries • Battery Charger • Strap
A huge 2.5 inch LCD, 7.2 Megapixel sensor, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens, and Sony Real Imaging Processor for ultra-fast start-up times and shutter response, in a traditional rangefinder design that feels great and is amazingly easy to control.
The Sony DSC-W7 is a 7-megapixel, full-featured, compact digital camera. It's Sony's newest addition to its top-of-the-line compact digital camera lineup. The DSC-W7 has a 3x optical zoom lens, full manual controls, a massive 2.5" LCD, easily available AA battery power supply, and the quality of Carl Zeiss glass.
Sony Cybershot DSC-W7 Pros and Cons
Price: Approximately $400 US
Excellent 7-megapixel sensor.
Complete range of exposure controls.
AA battery supply.
Built-in 32mb memory.
Sony Memory Stick memory, which can be used in other Sony products.
Very heavy for its size.
Lack of shutter mode and priority mode.
Conservative lens range (38-114mm), 35mm equiv zoom.
Introduction This is the newest of Sony's DSC series. The Sony DSC-W7 has come out to battle against other 7- to 8-megapixel point-and-shoot (P&S) cameras, such as the Canon G6. Sony has established a credible series of digital cameras, and they improve with each new addition. The 7-megapixel sensor is a gem, and the bigger-than-life LCD monitor is a pleasure to use.
Normally, I carry my digital SLR and a 35mm film P&S camera. With any photographic image, I always want enough resolution to make at least an 8x10. In the past, most digital P&S cameras didn't provide enough resolution for me to include one of them in my camera bag. My digital P&S experience has been very limited, but I was looking forward to using the Sony. I wanted to see how easy this camera would be to use, especially in the hands of an SLR user. To test this camera, I took it everywhere for a week, as I went about my life in and around Stanford, CA. It would be interesting to see how it performed in a variety of situations. How far could the Sony DSC-W7 be pushed, and how easy would it be to capture spur-of-the-moment images that I would expect from a P&S camera?
Sony Cybershot DSC-W7 Features
The exposure features the Sony DSC-W7 offers are nine preset exposure modes, which include program mode and fully manual mode. I was disappointed that there were no shutter or aperture priority modes, which could allow for some creativity. To help with color management there are five custom settings with an auto white balance (AWB) setting. Typical modes such as sunny, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, and flash are present. Especially with a camera that shoots only in JPG format, this camera needs to have a variety of settings to ensure that the image has proper color management.
The LCD screen provides useful information, including real time histogram, exposure data, flash status, and the white balance (WB) setting, to name a few. The screen measures 2.5" and is extremely bright. As the name implies, the DSC W-7 is a 7-megapixel camera that has a resolution of 3072x2304 pixels: you can easily print an 8x10 without losing any detail. The sensor is a Super HAD™ CCD that measures 1/1.8". With its Carl Zeiss lens, it is a camera that offers quality image capture from lens to sensor. The lens features a focal length of 7.9-23.7mm, which is the equivalent of a 38-144mm lens in a 35mm camera. For added distance there is a 3x optical zoom. A macro mode is also included with a minimum focusing distance of 2 1/4". If you like to photograph landscapes, then the 38mm will be restrictive and, in my opinion, annoying.
Left: Main feature controls - white balance, ISO, meter, exposure compensation, etc. Right: LCD capture display with live histogram
Left: Main menu display Right: LCD playback display
Once you are taking pictures, you have great auto-focus (AF) control with a five-area multipoint AF; center-balanced focusing; and a five-step manual. You will be able to see readily where the focus points on the LCD screen. My favorite feature is the power supply, which uses two AA batteries--no more having to recharge your battery during a long day at the theme park. Who would want to risk missing a once-in-a-lifetime shot when a charged-up battery is needed, if there's a gift shop nearby selling batteries? When you are done for the day, you can quickly upload the images from your camera via USB 2.0.
Sony Cybershot DSC-W7 Design
Physically, the DSC-W7 is in the medium-small part of the digital camera spectrum. The size is very close to that of its predecessor, but it offers more resolution. Because of its size, it fits easily into a shirt pocket, so you will be able to take it almost everywhere. The weight of the camera is a surprise: for its size, it feels very heavy, and some users will notice that while carrying it around. Despite the minor weight issue, the metal body feels sturdy and comfortable in the hands.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W7 button and control placement
Button layout has been arranged perfectly, and settings can be changed quickly and without fumbling. The ergonomics of this camera are excellent despite its small size. The controls are intuitively positioned, and I very quickly found myself able to adjust the settings with ease and without much thought. When I needed to change the ISO and shutter speed, I could do it quickly and reliably. If you choose to use manual, aperture and shutter are on separate toggle buttons, so you can adjust both without having to press a button as you do with the Canon G6.
Cable and I/O connections are securely positioned on the sides of the camera protected by waterproof rubber covers. They fastened into place securely and rapidly and didn't get in the way, nor did I fear that the covers were not doing their job. The dial on the top of the camera was easy to adjust and easy to decipher.
Camera Experience I was extremely happy to use the Sony, and it helped me have fun taking pictures again. Lately I have had a photographic mental block, and when I went out to test this camera I had fun. Taking pictures of the café and in and around the Stanford Mall was enjoyable, and I didn't feel that I was intruding on anybody given the small size of the camera. I was able to take it everywhere with me, and you never know when an opportunity will present itself. After seeing the results, I didn't feel that I compromised my time or my images. Some of the shots that I took from the Sony DSC W-7 will go into my library of images, along with those from my Canon 1D MarkII and Velvia 50 slide scans. The resulting images were strong enough, which is amazing coming from a camera that is less than $500.
Usually I am an aperture-priority photographer, but since this camera didn't have that type of control, I set the camera to P and just took pictures. This approach was fun and liberating. The Sony does have a credible macro setting, which was fun to use, but it's not powerful enough to really do macro-specific work. Luckily, with such a large sensor, one can blow it up the image and crop it.
Performance Performance considerations include start-up, shutter-lag, battery life, capture rate, and, most important, image quality. The start-up of the camera is a bit slow but, luckily, shutter-lag is minimal. It will never match a digital SLR, but I was impressed with the lack of an annoyingly long shutter-lag. Battery life was decent, and with two AA batteries I was able to take around 75 shots using flash, low light, focusing light, playback, and just horsing around with it. I'm sure most users will be able to get more images with normal use.
Using the flash or shooting in low light did slow down the focusing, but the infrared focusing aid still made it possible. Users can adjust the flash to normal strength and over/under-compensate. At every setting the flash overpowered subjects within three or four feet even with slow-sync. The best distance for illuminating the subject without harsh glare was beyond four feet. Overall, the performance of this camera would be excellent as long as the user understands its strengths and weaknesses. This is a camera that would take great snapshots, stills, nature shots, and portraits, but you would not be able to capture fast-moving sports and other shots normally taken with an SLR.
Image Quality The image quality delivered by the Sony DSC W-7 was incredible and easily matches that of other 7-megapixel P&S cameras. At ISO 100, the resolve of this sensor may even outperform older digital SLR cameras. To have this type of quality in such a small package is truly amazing.
What I look for in a digital sensor is dynamic range, which we take for granted with our film cameras. Since this and most handheld digital cameras don't have readily available filters to compensate for harsh contrast situations, the ability to capture shadow detail and highlights in the same frame is extremely important. If you look at the street shot of the café (see below), you can see a lot of detail in the shadows while not having a blown-out sky in the upper right. When you want to take a shot without having to think, this camera can do it.
Left: Sample photo for dynamic range/shadow detail - click for original Right: ISO 100 and 200 comparison - click to see samples
Sensor noise is also very important. How much noise is created by the sensor at the three ISO speeds? At 100 the sensor noise is barely noticeable and will not affect the image, while at ISO 200 and 400 it becomes more evident. In the studio samples, taken at ISO 100, 200, and 400, notice the increased noise. Regardless of the noise, your images will not be a problem, unless you make large crops of the image or have lots of shadow detail. As long as you can shoot the majority of your images at ISO 100 using the fast lens, your images will be superb with good dynamic range and noise control.
Click above to view before and after DSC-W7 color adjustment sample images
White balance and color shift were something of a problem. I found the images shifting to a slight green hue. The shift is not ghastly, but it is noticeable under mixed lighting and landscape shots. Using Auto-Color in Photoshop was a quick and easy solution, and I was happy with the results. With the cloudy setting, I found the result too warm; it overpowered the scene. Looking at the comparison of the AWB and the cloudy setting (see chair photo comparison, below), you can see how strong the cloudy setting was. The Sony performed best using P mode at ISO 100 under the AWB setting.
Click above to see larger white balance comparison
Conclusion The best thing about the Sony is the image quality. In fact, I think the image quality of the Sony far exceeded that of most other handheld digital cameras and in some cases beat the Canon 10D I used in the past in shadow detail. The Sony-made sensor is available in some truly wonderful cameras like the Canon G6, Olympus, Casio, and others. If you like the image quality but aren't sold on the Sony DSC W-7, you should take a look at some of the other cameras that use the same sensor. Image quality is a combination of the sensor, the lens, and the camera's processor, and Sony's overall package is truly spectacular.
It's hard to say anything about this camera that would keep you from buying it. The main issue for me would be a lack of artistic control, the result of not having aperture or shutter priority. That probably will not even affect you, because it relates to my style of photography, and it doesn't make this camera inferior to any other competing camera. For most people, this could be the camera that provides the most reliable source of family memories, and they may never need to buy another camera. On the other hand, it could inspire you to take the next step and buy a digital SLR. As a complete package, the Sony DSC W-7 lives up to its brand name.
Who Should Buy The Sony Cybershot DSC-W7 I would recommend the Sony to anyone who is not a professional "I-NEED-A-DIGITAL-SLR-AND-NOTHING-ELSE" photographer. It comes in at a price point that is affordable to most families, is easy enough for grandparents to use, and provides professional results to the aspiring photographer waiting to raise enough money to buy a digital SLR. My mother needs a new camera, and I could rest well at night after suggesting this camera to her. She isn't the most technical person, and this camera would be a great fit.
Even if you are proficient with SLR cameras, having something this small and powerful could result in having your camera with you all the time. How many times have we said to ourselves, "I wish I had my camera"? Unless you are shooting birds, sports, or doing a lot of night photography, this camera is highly recommended. If you understand its limitations, use ISO 100 and a tripod for those important shots, and have realistic expectations, the Sony DSC W-7 will not disappoint. After using it for a week, I will strongly consider a camera like the Sony for my own personal use.
Strengths: startup time, battery life, photo quality, sharpness, and the different shooting modes, and it even had great quality movies with audio in them!.
Weaknesses: it sometimes had some lag while it was taking the photo (about 1-2 seconds), but it did that about 2 years after I bought it, and my brother spilled coffee in the shutter, so I think hat might have had something to do with it.
I really enjoy these Sony Cybershot models, I have purchased 3 over the past five or six years, and they are really outstanding quality cameras! I have dropped them on countless occasions, and they have still worked perfectly (except for my 2 mp sony cybershot, but that one died on me this year, and I have had it since as long as i can remember). This one is a really great all around camera, and it did have a fast start up time, and it has a great battery life. I do a lot of aviation photography, and in aviation, the weather is either really bright, or really low, and this has helped me take good photos in all kinds of lights. I really like the sony cybershot family, and I recomend them, and this has to be the best of all of the cameras. This is all I remember about this camera, my dad ran over it with his car, and it broke, but it was the best camera I have ever known.
Similar Products Used: Sony Cybershot DSC-P5
Sony Cybershot 2 mp camera
Type of photography: Other
Date Reviewed: May 4, 2006
Strengths: -Better than average pictures
-30 fps 640X480 movie mode
-press the power button and the lens immediately activates
-feels like a camera and not a toy
-nice big viewfinder which is great for us older camera dudes.
-AA batteries are a BIG plus. I have 2 sets of rechargable 2500 mAh and have not had to change the batteries due to them running down during use.
-Great price per pixel
Weaknesses: -barely noticable focusing challenges during shooting of movies.
-there is a speaker under the bottom left of the camera body and your thumb can easily cover the opening and it is difficult to hear the 'in-focus' beep. You have to consciencely remember to leave your thumb off of the bottom left of the camera so you can hear the in-focus beep.
I have the disease of 'upgrade itis' and this is my latest edition. I have a Canon 20D as my 'beef' and this W7 is my carry around camera.
I have had several Sony's in the past starting from the 3 MP to the 5.1MP and all were enjoyable but the clear advantage with this 7.1MP is that it also will shoot movies at 640X480 at 30 fps and give better than I expected results. Of course the stills were good but not 'incredible' like you can get with a pro SLR with an image stabilization lens but with the 512 meg memory stick you will get plenty of great photos and even several 2-3 minute movies.
Te one slight drawback I have noticed with the camera in the movie mode is that as you are making a movie, there is a noticable constant focusing problem. Not that it is a real problem but the slight focusing attempts (slight softness) while the movie is being shot can be noticed but is not critical to the capture.