Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 Overview
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 digital camera is aimed at the photographer looking for a slim, ultracompact digital camera at an affordable price tag. The WX50 differs from its simultaneously-announced sibling, the WX70, by opting for a slightly smaller, lower-resolution LCD display and dropping the touch-panel overlay, but adds several underwater shooting modes and manages a slightly lower cost.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 digital camera is based around a 1/2.3"-type, 16.2 effective megapixel, backside-illuminated, Sony Exmor R CMOS image sensor with RGB color filter array. The WX50 has an "Extra High Sensitivity" function that tries to reduce image noise by not only averaging the results across multiple exposures, but also by averaging sets of four red, green, or blue pixels together. Of course, this reduces resolution to just 1/4 of the original image, but this is interpolated back to full resolution using Sony's pattern-recognizing "pixel super resolution" interpolation technology. The result, claims Sony, is an image with one-sixth the noise compared to a standard photo shot in the iAuto mode.
At full resolution, the WX50 can capture 4:3 aspect ratio images at up to 4,608 x 3,456 pixels. For 16:9 aspect ratio images, the maximum resolution is 4,608 x 2,592 pixels. As well as still images, the WX50 can also capture 60 fields-per-second interlaced video at 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution or below, using AVC HD v2.0 compression in an MP4 container.
The WX50 has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar-branded 5x optical zoom lens. For 4:3 aspect still image shooting, the WX50's lens offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a generous 25mm wide angle to a moderate 125mm telephoto. When shooting 16:9 aspect stills, a greater sensor crop leads to a 28 - 140mm equivalent range, while 16:9 movies have a 29-145mm equivalent range. 4:3 movies have the highest level of cropping, and a 35 - 175mm focal range. Enabling SteadyShot Active mode increases the crop on movies slightly further, yielding a 30-150mm range for 16:9 aspect, and a 37-185mm range for 4:3 aspect. The lens' aperture varies from F2.6 at wide angle to a rather dim f/6.3 at telephoto. Autofocusing is possible to just five centimeters at wide angle, or one meter at telephoto.
On the rear panel of the Sony Cyber-shot WX50 is a 2.8-inch, ClearPhoto LCD panel with a resolution of 460,800 dots. This display serves as the only method of framing and reviewing images, given that the Sony WX50 doesn't feature an optical viewfinder. The Sony DSC-WX50 has a multi-point autofocus system, and includes a face detection system with tracking capability. The face detection function is used to provide a Smile Shutter function that automatically triggers the shutter when your subject is smiling.
The WX50 offers three methods for determining exposures - multi-pattern, center-weighted or spot metering. Shutter speeds from four to 1/1,600 second are possible in iAuto mode, or one to 1/1,600 second in Program Auto mode. Sensitivities ranging from ISO 100 to 12,800 equivalents are on offer, as well as an Auto ISO function. 2.0EV of exposure compensation is available, in 1/3 EV steps. The DSC-WX50 also offers Sony's Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, useful for combatting blur caused by camera shake. This includes Sony's Active Mode, available only when shooting video, which allows a greater range of movement for the corrective lens element so as to better correct motion from walking, etc. Ten white balance settings are available, including auto and eight presets, plus a manual white balance setting. As well as Intelligent Auto, Program, and Manual modes, the WX50 offers a selection of 15 scene modes that offer a modicum of control over the look of images.
The WX50 also includes Sony's Intelligent Sweep Panorama function, which captures and automatically stitches a panorama by sweeping the lens across the scene, and analyzes frame content during capture and stitching to avoid chopping up larger moving subjects. In addition, the WX50 also includes an Underwater Sweep Panorama mode, and a 3D Sweep Panorama function, which uses some clever mathematics to recreate a 3D image from a single lens, saving the result as a multi-picture object file that contains two separate JPEG images, one for each eye. The result can be viewed on 3D-capable Sony Bravia displays. There's also a standard 3D Still Image mode, and a Sweep Multi Angle function which allows viewing the image with a 3D effect on the camera's 2D LCD display, by changing the display perspective as the camera is rocked from side to side.
The Sony WX50 includes a four-mode flash strobe with red-eye reduction capability. Flash range is stated as 0.2 to 5.3 meters at wide angle, or 1.0 to 2.2 meters at telephoto, when using automatic ISO sensitivity. A two- or ten-second self timer allows the photographer to get in the picture themselves, or to avoid camera shake caused by pressing the shutter button when shooting on a tripod. Images and movies can be recorded in a not-very-generous 19MB of built-in memory, or on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. The WX50 is also compatible with Sony's own proprietary Memory Stick Duo cards, as well as MicroSD and Memory Stick Micro with an adapter. The Sony WX50 includes Mini HDMI high definition video output connectivity, as well as Micro USB 2.0 High Speed data connectivity. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary NP-BN or NP-BN1 Infolithium battery pack, with an NP-BN pack in the product bundle. Battery life is rated at 240 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards.
The Sony WX50 digital camera ships in the US market from March 2012, priced at around US$200. Available body colors include silver and black.