Sony W130 Overview
by Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 04/18/08
At first glance, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 appears to have more external controls than some of the other compact digital cameras in its class, but looks can be deceiving. The DSC-W130 is actually a breeze to use, with a host of useful automatic presets that simplify picture-taking without compromising results. Small and compact, the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 fits into pockets nicely, as its lens retracts fully flush with the front panel. Offering 4x optical zoom, a large 2.5-inch LCD monitor and an 8.1-megapixel CCD, the DSC-W130 packs a lot of fun features into its thin body.
The 4x optical zoom lens offers slightly more zoom than the average point-and-shoot digital camera, covering a range equivalent to 32-128mm on a 35mm camera, with a slightly wider maximum wide angle setting to boot. In addition to the 4x optical zoom, the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 features Sony's 2x Precision Digital Zoom, which does a nice job of maintaining image quality despite the digital enlargement. Or, you can enable Smart Zoom, which simply crops from the center, giving you as much as 5x digital enlargement at the lowest resolution setting. (The higher the resolution, the less Smart Zoom is available in an effort to maintain image quality.) Face Detection Technology is a growing trend among consumer digital cameras these days, and Sony included their version on the Sony W130, which can detect as many as eight faces in a single frame -- pretty useful for group shots. But Sony takes it a little further, coupling Face Detection with smile detection in a mode called Smile Shutter. An amazingly useful mode, especially for parents of small children. Other fun and unique features on the W130 include Sony's Steady Shot Technology, in-camera editing of common photo mistakes (plus some fun filters), a bevy of useful preset Scene modes, and a handful of user-adjustable options such as AF area, white balance, color mode, and ISO, to name a few.
With an initial MSRP of US$229.99, the DSC-W130 starts out at a good price. You get a lot of resolution and a good zoom lens, plus a nice array of exposure modes and creative options for capturing unique images. The available exposure modes also accommodate a wide range of user experience levels, making the Sony W130 an attractive option for novices as well as more advanced users. If you're looking for a travel-worthy digital camera that's easy on the wallet and doesn't skimp on quality, the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 definitely deserves a good look. Read on for more details.
Sony W130 User Report
by Stephanie Boozer
Attractively outfitted with a stylish brushed metal front panel, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is trim, pocketable and affordable. Also available in a lighthearted pink and a more serious black body, the DSC-W130 fits into small pockets and purses, even a front jeans pocket. The retractable lens stows flush with the front panel, so there are no protrusions to hang on pockets and purses. The Sony W130 measures 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 inches (88 x 57 x 23mm), and weighs 5.3 ounces (151 grams).
Look and feel. Though thin, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 was comfortable to hold. Despite the lack of a front finger grip, the DSC-W30 was easy to grasp one-handed, and my thumb easily found a home between the zoom lever and Mode dial on the rear panel. I did notice that the Mode dial was easy to turn accidentally when picking up or setting down the camera one-handed, but as the camera was typically off, it didn't cause too much trouble. As all of the DSC-W130's external controls are clustered along the right side of the rear panel, it was easy to operate one-handed, from making menu selections to changing shooting modes.
A large, bright, 2.5-inch color LCD monitor covers practically all of the camera's rear panel, leaving just enough room for a teeny optical viewfinder window and the small selection of controls clustered along the right side. Though its surface is highly reflective (and easily smudged and scratched), the DSC-W130's LCD is still easy to see under bright sunlight. Though there is no fine-tuned LCD brightness adjustment, the Display button on the rear panel does offer a brighter display for outdoor shooting. The camera also offers a Gridline display mode, which divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically, to help you line up shots. You can also enable an Auto Orientation sensor, which senses if the camera is being held horizontally or vertically and adjusts the LCD display accordingly.
4x Smart Zoom
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 offers a 4x optical zoom lens, equivalent to a 32-128mm zoom on a 35mm camera, slightly more zoom than the typical point-and-shoot digital camera. The 32mm maximum wide angle setting is also just a little wider than normal. In addition to the 4x optical zoom, the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 offers Sony's 2x Precision Digital Zoom, which does an excellent job of preserving image resolution and detail despite digital enlargement. We always like to remind readers that digital zoom often results in lower resolution and detail, because the camera is simply cropping the center of the frame and enlarging it, but the DSC-W130's digital zoom should yield good results if print sizes are kept small, or if images are used for online purposes. Sony also included their Smart Zoom technology, which you can enable through a Settings menu. Smart Zoom limits the amount of digital enlargement based on the resolution setting, with the maximum 5x available at the lowest resolution.
The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is equipped to handle a wide range shooting conditions and scenarios, featuring a range of useful preset Scene modes, Face Detection technology, Steady Shot mode and powerful tools like ISO, white balance and color mode adjustments. It's a capable camera that delivers good results under a variety of conditions, yet is straightforward to operate and comfortable to carry around anywhere. The adjustable wrist strap secures the camera when shooting in precarious positions, and a separately available red leather carrying case offers stylish protection.
Interface. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 features a very user-friendly operating interface. You can literally just point, shoot, and get great results. There's even an Easy mode for quick, reliable automatic shooting. Built into the Sony W130 is Sony's automatic Dynamic Range Optimization, which takes advantage of the BIONZ image processor to preserve shadow and highlight detail when put to the test.
The Cyber-shot W130's main menu layout is logical and straightforward, displayed as a list of options along the left side of the LCD monitor. You can access the camera's main recording or playback menu options via the Menu button, as well as a limited selection of Setup options. What might not be too clear to many users familiar with older style Sony Cyber-shots is the addition of the Home button on the rear panel. The Home button takes you to a main screen accessing the camera's more extensive Settings options, a few playback options, a print menu and a memory tool. Some of the options under the Home menu are additional shortcuts to camera features accessible elsewhere, but it's the only place to access the expanded selection of Settings menus. This distinction can cause some confusion.
When it comes to the Cyber-shot W130's external controls, the layout is logical and easily accessed. The Power and Shutter buttons are the only controls on the top panel, and remain flush with the camera for a sleek profile. The remaining controls are all tucked along the right side of the LCD monitor. The Mode dial on the rear panel controls the main exposure mode, offering Easy, Auto, Program AE, Movie, Scene, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Soft Snap, Smile Shutter and High ISO settings. A four-way Multi-controller immediately below not only navigates through menu settings, but also accesses Display, Macro, Flash, and Self-Timer modes.
Another newer button (relative to older Cyber-shots) on the W130 is the Photo Music button, in the very bottom right corner of the rear panel. Purely for entertainment, this option lets you combine a music track with slide shows, for peppier playback. You can choose from eight different tracks, as well as control the other variables for the slideshow. You can also download music from a computer, for more personalized slideshows.
Modes. The Mode dial on the rear panel controls the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130's main shooting mode, offering Easy, Auto, Program AE, Movie, Scene, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Soft Snap, Smile Shutter, and High Sensitivity modes. Easy mode is a greatly simplified Auto mode, with very limited options. You can set the flash mode and enable the self-timer, but other options (even display mode and macro mode) are off-limits. The Record menu also goes down to only two options, Resolution and Flash, with limited options under these choices as well. The Auto mode is more like a traditional fully automatic exposure mode, keeping most exposure variables under automatic control. Unlike Easy mode, user controls are expanded to include the full range of resolution settings, as well as the ability to control EV compensation, focus mode, etc. Program AE mode expands user control even further, adding in the adjustable white balance, metering, ISO, and color options. The Scene position of the Mode dial provides access to the remaining preset modes that do not have places on the dial, namely Twilight, Beach, Snow and Fireworks modes.
Smile Shutter Mode
Of special note among the Sony W130's preset scene modes is Smile Shutter. This mode is designed to capture images of smiling faces as they happen, without you frantically pressing the shutter button to get a lot of odd expressions instead of smiles. Within the Record menu, you can set the Sony W130 to automatically record any smiles, or to detect smiles on adult or children's faces. Once you set the parameters, a single press of the Shutter button enables auto capture, and the camera will automatically capture images when it detects smiles, until you press the Shutter button a second timeso all you have to do is frame faces. Since children are so wiggly, it's incredibly difficult to get a good picture of a smiling tot without always shooting in Continuous mode. With Smile Shutter, you don't have to blow through a bunch of bad shots just to get to one good one. It's a really innovative mode that I think many parents out there will appreciate. Of course, you'll still get a few random not-so-great smiles, as in the last image, but it's still a great idea that parents will appreciate.
Also notable is Sony's Face Detection technology, which is available in most of the camera's shooting modes. Face Detection can detect as many as eight faces in one frame, and you also have the ability to specify child or adult faces. Flash, focus, exposure, and white balance are all calculated to get the best image of the detected faces in the frame.
The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 provides a nice selection of exposure tools in many of its shooting modes, including the ability to choose ISO (from 100 to 3,200), color mode, white balance, exposure compensation and enable Super SteadyShot. Though you cannot control metering and AF modes, the camera does utilize both Multi-pattern and spot metering modes, and has an intelligent nine-point AF system for more accurate focusing.
Through its Record menu, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 offers a Burst photography mode, which Sony rates as fast as 2 frames per second at any resolution. (In our tests, we clocked the Sony W130 at 1.94 frames per second, not too far off Sony's rating.) Through the same menu option, you can also access the camera's exposure bracketing modes, which vary the exposure by +/- 0.3, 0.7 or 1.0 exposure increments. The DSC-W130 is also equipped for capturing movies with sound. Available resolutions are 640 x 480 (30fps/16fps) and 320 x 240 (8fps).
Special Features. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 also has a few other unique tricks up its sleeve. Through its Playback menu, the camera offers a handful of editing tools that address a few common shooting mistakes, as well as provide a little creative fun.
Maximum Fisheye Filter
The Retouch option of the Playback menu offers Trimming, Red Eye Correction, Unsharp Masking, Soft Focus, Partial Color, Fisheye Lens, Cross Filter, Radial Blur and Retro options. Short descriptions of each filter appear on-screen as you scroll through the choices. For example, Retro blurs corners for a nostalgic effect and Cross Filter highlights points of light (such as candle flames) with a cross pattern to dramatize lighting.
As I mentioned, the Sony W130 also features Photo Music, with eight music tracks available to accompany slide shows. You can also download additional tracks by connecting the camera to your computer. You can also connect the camera to a PhotoTV HD-capable Sony BRAVIA HD television with an optional adaptor, for more highly-detailed image display than that on a traditional television set via the normal AV cable.
Storage and battery. The Sony Cyber-shot W130 accepts Memory Stick DUO and PRO DUO memory cards, but does not come with a card. The camera also includes about 15MB of internal memory. Of course, we always recommend picking up a large capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo. Memory Stick PRO versions can handle high-res movie data and give faster download times. They should be used for all current Sony cameras. These days, 2GB is good and affordable, but look at a 4GB card if you'll be using the W130 for video.
For power, the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 uses a single, custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and ships with both the battery and charger. You can purchase an AC adaptor as a separate accessory, and we highly recommend picking up a spare battery and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.
Shooting. Overall, shooting with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 was pretty straightforward when shooting under normal conditions and in the normal parameters. I did find it a little tedious in trying to remember which functions were accessible in the Record menu and which functions were accessible in the different Settings menus, not to mention what was included in the Home menu. But after a little time working with the camera, some options became second nature. Though Sony's goal was most likely to make the interface more user friendly in offering the Home button, it's initially almost chaotic to the user to try to remember what functions are available where. For straight point-and-shoot photography, most users should have no trouble. It's delving into the more advanced features that begins to boggle the mind. But a good read of the manual and old-fashioned experience should resolve any issues here, which is why I'd still classify the DSC-W130 as an easy to use camera.
When it came to timing, the DSC-W130 proved to be fairly responsive overall, if a little sluggish in some areas. Mode-switching was a little slow, partially due to the camera displaying a small information screen whenever you change modes. Shutter lag was quite good, however, with only 0.31-second and 0.39-second lag times at wide angle and telephoto, respectively. Shot-to-shot cycle times were also good, and download times were blazingly fast. Where I tend to worry about lag times the most is in photographs of people. And though the Sony W130 already has good numbers, the Smile Shutter's automatic smile detection really alleviates any concerns in this area.
Default Exposure, ISO 100
Image quality. The Sony W130 produced good looking images across a range of subjects and exposure conditions. Overall color is bright and vibrant, yet still natural and appealing. Bright reds and blues are a bit oversaturated, which is very common among consumer digital cameras because many consumers prefer brighter-than-life color in their images. And though the strong reds appear to practically jump off the screen, I think most consumers will find overall color to their liking. One drawback to the camera's strong reds is that Caucasian skin tones did take on more of a reddish, sometimes pinkish cast. Cyan tones were also strongly pushed toward blue, another common digital camera issue, possibly in an effort to boost blue skies.
Very good detail in the mosaic pattern,
with a small amount of noise suppression
at ISO 100.
The Cyber-shot W130 captures a lot of fine detail, with modest noise suppression blurring detail slightly at ISO 100. In the crop above, the mosaic shows great detail, though with a little smudging in the clothing and skin features.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 handled image noise well at its lower ISO settings, though at ISO 400, efforts to suppress noise sacrifice detail. At the highest ISOs of 1,600 and 3,200, both noise grain and noise suppression become very strong, making images look more like illustrations.
Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,450 lines vertical
The Cyber-shot DSC-W130's 8.1-megapixel CCD captured high resolution images. Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 1,450 lines vertically. Extinction didn't really occur, though lines began to merge around 1,800-1,900 lines.
Wide: Soft in the
corners (upper right).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Blurring in the corners of the frame was noticeable at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions, and noticeable in many of the DSC-W130's images, depending on the subject matter. The DSC-W130's lens also showed somewhat high distortion levels, at both zoom positions.
Output. Printed results were a little disappointing with the Sony W130, producing at best an 11x14-inch print at ISO 100, while similar cameras can do a 13x19. The Sony W130 is also a little too aggressive in its noise suppression at ISO 1,600 and 3,200, leaving high contrast areas sharp, but low contrast areas quite fuzzy. Noise is obliterated, but so is subtle detail. But if you stick to ISO 800 and below and print only 8x10's or smaller, you'll be quite happy with the Sony W130's output.
Appraisal. Overall, I think the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 performs well under normal conditions, with good color, exposure, and detail in a variety of situations. Options like Smile Shutter, Steady Shot, and Face Detection make it a very useful tool for getting focused pictures of children and small groups of people. It also has a good selection of useful preset scene modes for more difficult, yet common, exposure situations. Lens distortion is a little higher than I'd like at the full zoom positions, and noise suppression does trade detail at the higher ISOs, but overall, with 8.1-megapixels of resolution, 4x optical zoom, a bevy of features and a small packagethe Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is a good deal for the price.
Sony W130 Basic Features
- 8.1-megapixel CCD (effective) delivers image resolutions as high as 3,264 x 2,448
- 4x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 32-128mm
- As much as 2x Precision Digital zoom
- Additional Smart Zoom as much as 20x total at lowest resolution
- Nine-point AF area, plus a selection of manual focus presets
- 2.5-inch color LCD monitor
- Easy, Auto, and Program AE main exposure modes
- Shutter speeds from 1/1,600 to 1 second, depending on mode
- Aperture range from f/2.8 - f/7.1, depending on zoom position
- BIONZ Real Image Processor Technology
- Built-in flash with four modes and intensity adjustment
- Memory Stick DUO / DUO PRO memory slot
- 15MB internal memory
- Power from custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack
- Multi-connector for A/V television connection and USB 2.0 connection
- PictBridge compatible
Sony W130 Special Features
- Nine preset Scene modes
- Movie mode with sound
- Burst and Bracketing shooting modes
- Face Detection technology detects as many as eight faces in one frame
- Super SteadyShot technology for reducing motion blur
- Macro and Self-timer modes
- Spot and Multi-pattern Metering modes (auto controlled)
- Adjustable ISO from 100 to 3,200 equivalents, plus an Auto setting
- Adjustable white balance with eight settings
- Color menu for creative color options
- In-camera editing for red-eye removal, plus a selection of creative filters
- Soft carrying case
- Backup rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for extended outings
- Large capacity Memory Stick PRO Duo Memory Stick PRO versions can handle high-res movie data and give faster download times. They should be used for all current Sony cameras. These days, 2GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 4GB should be a minimum.
Sony W130 Conclusion
Despite some of its shortcomings in areas of lens distortion, color saturation, and noise suppression, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is indeed a capable little digital camera. For starters, it's small and easy to use, perfect for stashing in a pocket on the way out the door. It has a great selection of useful preset modes and creative shooting tools, and most impressive, it combines its Face Detection technology with a smile detector for an extremely useful Smile Shutter mode, giving you in-focus images of wiggly kids or small groups of people, without resorting to a continuous shooting mode. The DSC-W130 offers 8.1 megapixels of resolution, a large and bright LCD monitor, 4x optical zoom plus two of Sony's tried-and-true digital zoom modes, and a BIONZ image processor, all for a suggested MSRP of US$229.