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Sony W100 Operation

Like most of the Cyber-shot line of digital cameras, operating the Sony W100 is straightforward, with uncomplicated menus and an intuitive control layout. The Mode dial on the rear panel controls the main operating modes, with options for Auto, Program, Manual, High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight portrait, Beach, Landscape, Soft Snap, and Movie modes. In all image capture modes, the DSC-W100 provides an onscreen LCD menu (activated by the Menu button), with a variety of options for adjusting image quality or adding special effects. The four arrows of the Five-way arrow pad are used to scroll through menu options, while the button in the center of the pad functions as the OK button to confirm selections. Outside of the menu, the arrows adjust flash, exposure compensation, macro, and self-timer modes. An Image Resolution button calls up the available resolution settings, removing this item from the main menu system, thereby making it much quicker to access when needed. The Zoom control surrounding the Shutter button adjusts both optical and digital zoom (when the latter is activated through the Setup menu). An optional function guide can be enabled through the Setup menu, which displays concise help text on the LCD for camera functions. Overall, the DSC-W100 should require very little downtime to get acquainted, even for novice users.

Record-Mode Display

In record mode, the Sony W100's LCD monitor displays the subject with a fair amount of overlaid information, indicating approximate battery life remaining (graphically), flash mode, focus mode (macro or normal), autofocus mode setting, any currently-selected exposure compensation setting, ISO setting, the current size/quality setting, and number of images that can be stored on the remaining Memory Stick space at the current size/quality. Half-pressing the Sony W100's Shutter button causes the camera to display the shutter speed and aperture setting it has chosen for the current lighting conditions. Pressing the Display button beside the LCD once adds a small "live" histogram display to the information, pressing it again removes the main information overlay, and pressing it a third time turns the LCD off entirely: excellent for saving power. Pressing it a fourth time restores the default display.

Playback-Mode Display

In Playback mode, the default image display shows the most recently captured image, with a modest information overlay present. Pressing the Sony W100's Display button once adds the exposure information and a small histogram to the overlay, pressing it again removes the information overlay entirely, and pressing it a third time returns to the default display. Pressing the wide-angle side of the zoom lever takes you to a display showing images on the Memory Stick in groups of nine small thumbnails. You can navigate a yellow outline cursor over these thumbnails by using the four arrow keys. Pressing the telephoto side of the zoom lever will bring the currently-selected image up full-screen. Pressing the telephoto side of the zoom lever on the Sony W100 will zoom in on the image, in 17 variable-sized increments up to a maximum magnification of 5x.


Sony W100 Modes and Menus

Scene Modes: Indicated on the Sony W100's Mode dial with their corresponding black icons, these modes are for capturing images in specific situations. Seven "scenes" are available, including High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Beach, Landscape, and Soft Snap. The High Sensitivity mode increases the ISO setting automatically, so you can shoot without the flash in dim conditions. Both Twilight modes capture images in low light, although the Twilight Portrait mode automatically enables the Red-Eye Reduction flash mode, combining it with a slower shutter speed to let ambient lighting brighten the background as well. Because the camera employs a slower shutter speed in both Twilight modes, a tripod is highly recommended to prevent blurring from camera movement. Beach mode optimizes the camera for bright situations and attempts to prevent color loss from overexposure. Landscape mode sets the focus at infinity and uses a smaller lens aperture to capture sharp details both near and far away. Soft Snap mode enhances skin colors while keeping a soft focus for a pleasing glow.

Manual Mode: Manual exposure mode (indicated by a black "M" on the Mode dial) provides complete exposure control over the Sony W100, with an expanded shutter speed range extending from 1/1,000 to 30 seconds.

Program Mode: This mode is marked on the Mode dial with a black "P." In this mode, the camera selects shutter speed and aperture, while you control all other exposure variables.

Automatic Mode: Indicated on the Mode dial with a green camera icon, this mode puts the camera in control of the exposure and everything except Macro, Image Size and Quality, Zoom, Flash, and the Self-Timer.

Movie Mode: A filmstrip icon marks this mode on the Sony W100's Mode dial. In Movie mode, you can record moving images and sound, for as long as the Memory Stick or internal memory has space. Resolution and quality choices are 640 x 480-, or 160 x 112-pixels, with Fine and Standard options in 640 x 480 mode. While recording, a timer appears in the LCD monitor to let you know how many minutes and/or seconds are remaining on the Memory Stick, and how long you've been recording, so you'll have some idea of how much time you have left. Recording in 640x480 Fine mode is only available with a Memory Stick Pro Duo card.

The Sony W100 offers a Multi Burst mode separate from the movie mode and selected in the menu in Auto, Program, and Scene modes, which captures an extremely rapid 16-frame burst of images, at a selectable rate of 7.5, 15, or 30 frames per second. Multi Burst shots are played back as a slow-motion animation on the camera, but appear as a single large file with 16 sub-images in it when viewed on a computer. (This would be a fun way to catch someone crossing a finish line during a race, or to analyze golf and tennis swings.) A Burst mode is also available, and captures a rapid series of images for as long as the Shutter button is held down. Frame rates and the maximum number of images depends on the image quality and resolution settings, as well as the amount of available memory space.

Playback Mode: Playback mode is accessed by pressing the Playback button on the Sony W100's rear panel. In this mode, you can scroll through captured images, delete them, write-protect them, and set them up for printing on PictBridge-compatible printers. You can also copy, resize, and rotate images.

Record Menu: Available in all Record modes by pressing the Menu button, the Record menu offers the following options (some options are not available in all modes):

Playback Menu:

Setup Menu: This menu allows you to change a variety of camera settings on the Sony W100, and is accessible through each of the camera menus by scrolling to the Setup icon and pressing the right arrow button.