Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Review

Camera Reviews Sony

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Digital Camera
The Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 is a pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera with 8.1 megapixels of resolution; a wide-angle, 5x optical zoom lens; and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor. Part of Sony’s extensive Cybershot series of compact digital cameras, the W150 offers very good image quality and a number of fun features. It can also capture up to 10 minutes of continuous MPEG VX video. It comes in black, red, silver and gold.

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Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Montana bouquet


  • Small and lightweight – perfect for carrying in a pocket or purse.
  • Super SteadyShot image stabilization.
  • Excellent image quality in a variety of conditions.
  • 8.1 megapixels for prints to 16×20 inches.
  • 5x optical zoom (30-150mm equivalent).
  • Large, vivid LCD monitor.
  • Easy Shooting mode for simple shooting.
  • 100 shot burst mode.
  • In-camera editing tools.
  • Photo album and slideshow capabilities (with music).

  • Menu settings and mode dial less than intuitive.
  • No manual shutter or aperture control.
  • ISO can only be changed in Program Auto mode.
  • Only a handful of exposure modes.
  • Tiny optical viewfinder does not show full scene.
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - front and back

The Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 is an attractive little camera with a $249 suggested retail price tag. It captures high-quality photographs in a variety of lighting conditions. I took it with me on a business trip to Miami and also used it to photograph friends, pets, landscapes and night scenes around my home in Montana. It’s the second pocket-sized digital point-and-shoot I’ve tested this year, and the second to wipe out any preconceived notions I had about small digital cameras. The W150, and most of today’s small digital cameras, take big, beautiful pictures and pack a surprising number of features into a compact package. The Sony W150 won’t necessarily replace your high-end compact camera or DSLR, but it can capture great photos and preserve important memories when space (and budget) is at a premium.

The Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 packs a lot of camera into a small package, with leading-edge technologies like Face Detection, Smile Shutter and HDTV-compatibility. The W150 offers an impressive 8.1 megapixels of resolution – enough to produce excellent prints at 11×17 inches and acceptably sharp prints up to 16×20 inches.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Carl Zeiss 5x optical zoom lensThe W150′s 30-150mm (35mm-equivalent) Zeiss lens has a nice zoom range for a camera this size and the 30mm wide end offers more coverage than the average pocket camera. Helping ensure sharp photos is Sony’s Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization system. The W150 also offers 5x digital zoom, although it’s important to point out that image quality will suffer when using digital zoom.

A vivid, crisp 2.7-inch LCD monitor allows easy framing and viewing of photographs. The W150 also has an optical viewfinder, though I found it less than useful.

Other highlights include Face Detection, which finds faces in a scene and then optimizes focus and exposure for them; and Smile Shutter, which snaps a picture when your subject smiles. (In theory, anyway.)

Camera modes accessible from the mode dial are Auto Adjustment, Program Auto, Movie, Scene, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Soft Snap, Smile Shutter, High Sensitivity and Easy. Selecting Scene mode, then pressing the Menu button allows the user to select another five exposure modes: Twilight, Beach, Snow, Fireworks and Underwater. The W150 also has a movie mode capable of shooting at 640×480 at 30 frames-per-second – as long as you have an optional Memory Stick PRO Duo memory card. With the normal Memory Stick Duo card, it shoots video at 640×480 at 16 frames-per-second.

The control button’s four-way navigator provides fast selection of auto or macro focus, display options, flash settings and self-timer. Another four buttons provide access to the Menu, Home, Display and Slideshow functions.

Burst Mode will take almost unlimited pictures at 1.6 frames per second while the shutter button is held down. However, this continuous shooting only works with the flash off.

The Sony W150 offers a bunch of ways to share photos directly from the camera. Photos can be organized into albums and slideshows that can be viewed right on the camera’s LCD. You can even add music to slideshows and share them on your high-def television. Sony has added a bunch of HDTV features to the W150 to make it better interface with high-def TV sets. You can shoot at the 16:9 aspect ratio at 7-megapixels so images can be viewed on an HDTV and still have enough resolution to print well. Images can also be resized in-camera to the 16:9 ratio. Photos that weren’t shot or haven’t been resized to 16:9 can be automatically fit using the W150′s Wide Zoom setting so that they fill the entire HDTV screen. (An HD adaptor cable must be purchased separately.) Imagine inviting friends and family over to view a vacation slideshow with music on your high-definition television.

Camera Menus

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - LCD Display
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Record mode w. info, histogram and composition grid
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - LCD Display
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Playback mode w. info and histogram on
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - LCD Display
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 main menu
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - LCD Display
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Home menu w, ISO selected

Strangely, the official Sony specifications web page for the Cybershot DSC-W150 doesn’t list the camera’s measurements or weight. However, I’d say it’s a few millimeters larger than a deck of cards and about the same weight as my Palm Treo or a BlackBerry. It’s just a wee bit chunkier than the Casio EX-Z77 I recently reviewed.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Front Sony Cybershot DSC-W150- Back Controls
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 digital camera design

The Cybershot is well-built and sturdy. After a month of banging around in my purse, it looks good as new, minus some fingerprints on the LCD monitor. Its brushed metal surface comes in black, red, silver and gold. It’s an attractive, but business-like design that I believe would appeal to both men and women. It feels comfortable and reasonably secure in my large-ish hands.

The mode dial and various buttons are extremely small. I occasionally had trouble depressing the buttons, especially Menu and Display, which are very close to the raised LCD monitor. The power button is flush with the camera surface and difficult to find by touch alone; on the positive side, it’s unlikely to accidentally turn itself on in a pocket or purse. A friend who tried the Sony Cybershot W150 told me she found its small controls and compact size a turn-off. While I agree this is one petite camera, the small buttons and size are not enough to deter me from its advantages. Do be aware, though, that people with large hands or less finger dexterity may have problems.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery and Memory Stick Duo media card fit securely and easily in the bottom of the camera. The battery charger is about the same size as the camera but practically featherweight, and it plugs directly into a wall outlet.

Camera Experience
Overall, I’m impressed with Sony’s W150 digital camera. It is pleasant to look at and hold, and it takes great pictures for a camera its size. The tiny control buttons pose a slight challenge, but not enough to dissuade me. It’s great to have high resolution, a relatively long lens and very good image quality in such a small package. The slideshow function – and ability to import your own musical soundtrack – isn’t really my thing, but it’s delightful nonetheless and undoubtedly will be appreciated by many users.

My biggest gripe is that the user interface is not as intuitive as it could be. For example, the options available on the mode dial don’t appear to be in any logical order – it goes from Auto Adjustment to Program Auto to Movie to Scene Selection. Some exposure modes – Twilight Portrait, Landscape and Soft Snap (for subjects with soft backgrounds) — are located on the mode dial, while others – Twilight, Beach, Snow, Fireworks and Underwater – are hidden in the Scene Selection menu. Seems rather random to me.

The available options in any given shooting mode aren’t necessarily intuitive and confused me. For example, I could change ISO settings only in Program Auto mode — not in Auto Adjustment or even ISO mode. The Super SteadyShot can’t be turned on or off in Auto Adjustment mode, but Scene Recognition is only available in Auto Adjustment mode. The manual has an elaborate table showing the options for each mode — if you have the patience to study it.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Life jackets

The Sony Cybershot W150 performed well under a variety of lighting conditions. It took excellent people shots, self-portraits and landscapes. Images came out of the camera true to color and well-saturated, requiring little adjustment after the fact. Reds and blues, in particular, popped. Flash snapshots of people on the beach in the dark of night were surprisingly sharp and well-exposed, thanks to the auto focus illuminator. (The red, auto focus illuminator light can be annoying in some situations.) Neon signs came out beautifully. Shooting video was easy and resulted in reasonably good video and sound quality.

The camera focused well in complex situations. Children playing, tree branches and a wind vane came out sharp using Auto mode. Landscape mode worked well for mountains at sunset. Wildflower close-ups using the Macro setting were sharp at regular focal lengths, although the camera loses its ability to focus as it zooms in from less than a foot away. This is fine as long as you remember to simply leave the camera zoomed out while physically moving it closer to your subject.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Smile Shutter Sony Cybershot DSC-W150- Smile Detection
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Smile Shutter Mode

Sony’s touted Smile Shutter mode performed inconsistently. I tested it on a friend, then on myself. It is supposed to work by sensing when your subject smiles (after you’ve focused and pressed the shutter button) and snapping a picture. It does do this about half of the time, which is thrilling; however, the other half of the time it either fails to take a picture when the subject smiles, or takes a picture when the subject is not smiling. And if Smile Shutter fails, you can go to Plan B and use the Happy Face feature to add a smile after you take the picture.

I tried hooking the W150 up to my television, and it almost worked. I could see the slideshow images, but the vertical hold was out of control and I couldn’t get the image to stop rolling. Those of you who don’t remember old tube TVs and antennas with foil on them might not know what I’m talking about. Suffice to say, I couldn’t get it to work. Someone who understands TVs better than me could probably figure it out. But the average person might have trouble.

Battery life was good – I had plenty of juice for moderate use without recharging during my four-day visit to Miami. Shooting video will, however, drain the battery more quickly.

It took me a while to get up to speed using the W150 because of its unconventional interface. I was initially confused by the differences between the Menu and Home buttons, although I now understand that Home contains all the general camera settings (like auto focus, sounds and clock), while Menu has settings specific to the current mode. The randomness of the mode dial further confused me. However, now that I’ve spent time familiarizing myself with the camera and studying the manual, it has become easier to understand.

Image Quality
Image quality is where the Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 really shines. I’m very pleased with the exposure, color, contrast and sharpness of photographs I’ve taken with this camera — even under challenging lighting conditions. Would I hang any of these pictures on my wall? Yes, I would.

The W150 offers sensitivity settings from ISO 80 to 3200, which is quite high for a small point-and-shoot. Noise becomes noticeable at ISO 800 and ghastly at 3200, but it’s nice to have the option if you need to take pictures in very poor lighting conditions.

Lens quality is excellent. Wide-angle photographs reveal no distortion or purple fringing and very little vignetting. White balance is good.

Colors, especially reds and blues, are rich and true. I like intensely saturated photographs, and I tend to bump up color and contrast quite a bit in Photoshop, but found that these images didn’t need much adjustment. People who prefer more natural or less saturated colors will want to turn down the in-camera contrast and saturation.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Sun and Sand Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - The Depot Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Yellowbells
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Butterfly or Moth? Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - American Museum of Natural History Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Tough Guy

Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.

I have mixed feelings about the Sony Cybershot DSC-W150. While it was far from love at first use, I find I’m a little sad to have to send my review copy back. I really like how easily the W150 fits into my purse and the excellent image quality it produces.

The disorganized user interface was a real stumbling block for me, although I eventually got used to it. Limited exposure options are another deterrent – I like being able to adjust shutter, aperture and ISO settings. I’d also like to have more scene exposure modes. But it is what it is – a point-and-shoot digital camera. The majority of the W150′s target market – beginner and intermediate photographers – will not miss having real manual exposure controls.

Image quality is really the Sony Cybershot W150′s selling point. It’s quite good, particularly in a camera this small. I’m especially impressed by the rich, vivid colors. The 8.1 megapixels of resolution, 5x Carl Zeiss zoom lens and attractive, comfortable build are also high points.

While in-camera editing and slideshows don’t really interest me, they are strong features in this camera and will make the right person very happy.

Who Should Buy It
This camera will satisfy many types of users, including:

  • Vacation travelers who want a small but feature-rich camera to tuck into a backpack.
  • Teenagers who want a stylish camera for shooting and sharing pictures and video. (Slideshows! Music! YouTube!)
  • Beginners who want a camera that can grow with them.
  • Intermediate and advanced photographers who want a small, relatively inexpensive camera as a backup, and don’t mind the lack of manual settings.
  • Anyone for whom excellent image quality in a small, affordable package is a priority.

Those who would not be happy include:

  • Pros and advanced photographers who can’t live without manual controls.
  • Beginning to intermediate photographers who are sticklers for simple, elegant user interfaces.
  • Anyone with hands that are very large, weak or lacking in dexterity.

- end -

Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 - Box Contents

Contents of the Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Box

  • Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 Digital Camera
  • NP-BG1 rechargeable battery
  • BC-CSG battery charger
  • A/V and USB multi-connector cables
  • Wrist strap
  • Software CD-ROM

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  • Rod Bahnson says:

    Am happy with the performance but extremely unhappy with the camera in that after 2 months blue spots appeared on the images. Assume that it is due to dust getting inside the camera as that is what was told to me on another sony camera. I have not abused the camera carrying it in my pocket etc. so after this happening to two sonys i will not be purchasing another sony compact product again.

  • Photo-John says:

    Sorry to hear about the problems with your camera. I’d have to see an example of the spots to confirm that they’re from dust in the camera. It does happen, though. If you’ve only had it two months, it should still be under warranty and they shold fix it for you. If you haven’t already, please also post a user review on our Sony W150 user review page:

    Read and write Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 user reviews >>

    Good luck with getting your camera repaired. And if you decide to replace it and want help choosing a new one, post on our Digital Cameras forum and we’ll be happy to help you pcik out your next camera.

  • ztipkorb says:

    can anyone help to make possible the use of optical zoom while recording movie, it’s so frustrating, didn’t expect this one, i thought all digicam does…?

  • Patia says:

    Hi, ztipkorb. I don’t think the W-150 allows zooming while shooting video, sorry. Some cameras do, some don’t. It IS a nice feature to have.

  • Jen says:

    I have had 2 cybershots, one of them being the DSC-W150 the other was an older one, one of the first. i have had the same exact issue for both, the first i thought was a fluke and it was just a faulty camera. Now im starting to suspect its the cybershot itself after the same exact thing happened. After about a year and a half for the first one and about 4-6 months with the second newer one. The lens will not pop out all the way and it keeps trying to, by going in and out several times, then the screen pops on and says “Turn the power off and on again” while the screen before was blurry. I didnt do anything that would damage it. I was usingit properly and all of a sudden, turned it on and that happened. i think that sony really needs to amp up the durability of the camera. ive read many other similar complaints of the same camera issue for the DSC-W150. I have never had ths problem with any other digital cameras i have had before other than the two cybershots.
    Does anyone know how to fix this issue? other than its glitch filled negative, the rest of the camera is lovely for someone like me who likes to whip out a camera and take a quick pic, especcially for studying reasons.

  • Linda says:

    I have the cybershot W150 and am extremely disappointed. While using it (and I always keep it in a hard shell case when not in use) it stopped working with the lens popping in and out and the display eventually reading \turn the power off and on again\. Of course, it occured 13months after purchase. My last sony cybershot had problems with the lens and needed to be \taped\open to keep the lens from closely partially on the pictures!

  • Jocy says:

    Hi have a cibershot dsc-w150 and is a little over a year old since I purchased this camera and the lens is stuck it does not open…I’m really disapointed with this camera because I payd a lot of money thinking that this was a camera to have for a lot of years…and I always taked good care of it and now is broke.
    I recomend olympus instead of sony.

  • Kev says:

    Ive had my W150 for a year and a half and ive also had the shutter thing happen, i use this for diving alot, and as above, only recently the display has turned into showing a “negative” image, which while underwater is extremely difficult to see, i like this camera, but i think it could have been made much better, and there is ALOT of redundant features if your not a 10yr old playing with their 1st camera.

  • Cara says:

    Ive had the camera W150 for about 10 months and the turn the power off and on again is happening. Ive tried lightly tapping the camera and all the other tips and nothing has happened. I lOVE this camera and feel terrible to have to get another one. I keep hoping I will turn it on and it will work again. If i had to get another camera which one would you guys suggest?

  • Janna says:

    I’ve had the sony w150 for just under a year and I am not able to power on the camera. Battery is charged. any ideas?

  • heather says:

    Now have dust in my DSC-W150 AGAIN! Keeps putting white spots on the photos and you can see the dust when you look inside of the lense. Camera is kept in a case and only used by an adult. This should not be an issue. Sony repaired it before, but I don’t want to have to keep sending it in for this same issue one or more times a year. Makes me so upset that I spent the money on it. Seen this same issue on multiple sites. Such a shame. Like the camera otherwise.

  • Dave says:

    I came across this site while searching for a related problem concerning the Sony DSC-W230 camera. This camera has the same problem as heather’s (post 11), with white spots appearing in certain images. We shot about 200, and they began to appear from about 150 on. It has occured on at least 7.

  • heather j says:

    I must say I am extremely disappointed with this camera. My older cybershot was superb. Never any problems. I would not have replaced it if it hadn’t been stolen from my home. The new one that I purchased – dsc-w150 has been a problem since the beginning. I took it on vacation and white spots appeared on the images. I thought maybe I got sand in it so I sent it in to Sony for repair. They fixed it for free and sent it back. Next up came the holidays and the same white spots reappeared. It looked as if there was lint INSIDE the lens. Sent it back for repair without a charge or comment from Sony again. Now the camera is once again having white spots inside and there appears to be lint inside the lens AGAIN. This camera is kept in a hard shell case except when in use. The camera is only handled by adults that have used a camera in the past – especially a cybershot. Now that this is the third time and the camera is out of warranty the company says – too bad so sad pay us to fix it. What?! I would not be so upset except that I just bought the aqua pack to waterproof it and of course this is the only cyber shot model that can go into it. Now I am out a camera AND a pack unless I pay to have it fixed. If I pay to fix it the spots will inevitably come back. It is unacceptable.

  • tom k says:

    i have a dscw230 and i am having trouble getting the camera to download pictures to my computer.

  • GElliott says:

    I’m new at taking pictures, so this may be a stupid question…my camera will start changing settings all by itself…I was trying to video fireworks & after a about 30 seconds it stopped recording & started flipping thropugh the settings…this is very anoying & has happened before…is this something that I’m not doing, like an option on the camera I can change & am not aware of, or is this an issue that needs to be fixed…can anyone advise

  • Raey says:

    I’ve got a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 and I can’t transfer photos to the computer. It says “The drive or network connection that the shortcut ‘DCIM.Ink’ refers to is unavailable”. What will i do? I even tried using a card reader and it doesn’t work!

  • Raey says:

    Please help me. I’ve got a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 and I can’t transfer photos to the computer. It says “The drive or network connection that the shortcut ‘DCIM.Ink’ refers to is unavailable”. What will i do? I even tried using a card reader and it doesn’t work!

  • siomone says:

    Please help me. i’ve got a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-S950 and i can’t transfer photos to my computer. It say’s “The drive or network connection that the shortcut ‘DCIM.Ink’ refers to is unavailable”. I even tried using a card reader and it still doesn’t work. what can i do?

  • hugonzalez says:

    I NEED HELP PLEASE,,, i have a problem with my cybershot,,,when i turn it on i get this on the screen : TURN the power off and on again,,, “”” when i turn it off and then on again i get the same message over and over again it doesnt let me take pictures….. how do i fix this?

  • sneha says:

    i’ve got a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-S950 and i can’t transfer photos to my computer. It say’s “The drive or network connection that the shortcut ‘DCIM.Ink’ refers to is unavailable”. I even tried using a card reader and it still doesn’t work. what can i do?

  • kris says:

    My dsc-w150 keeps changing settings while I am trying to take photos or film so that I miss a shot or the shot is blurry. Sometimes when I am trying to film it will just switch settings as if someone is turning the wheel and then it is no longer in film mode so I lose whatever I was filming. It also has trouble when I want to go look back at photos andpress the button it just goes to photo mode. HATE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Danielle says:

    I have the same problem with my Sony DSC-W150, it is always changing settings on it’s own. I am very upset about this as I paid a lot from this camera and definitely did not get my use out of it. Does any one have an ideas whats going on with it?

  • steve says:

    How to you turn the clock setting OFF on the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W150?

    My employer requires no dates or times on the photos that I will be submitting.

    • Photo-John says:

      It’s been quite a while since I’ve used that camera. But you should be able to turn it on and off by going into the menu and going to either Clock Settings or Main Settings. You definitely can turn it off. If you still can’t figure it out, do a Google search for W150 manual.

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