Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W710 Preview
by Mike Tomkins
One feature of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W710 defines it: affordability. The Sony W710 is a camera that aims to arrive at the psychologically important US$100 price point, a barrier it just scrapes beneath. It's a camera you won't feel too worried about bringing along wherever you go, because it didn't break the bank to obtain. It's a likeable choice for teens and perhaps tweens as well, for much the same reason. Will it give you the same image quality as a camera costing five times as much? No, but then that's not really the point. The W710 does manage to include the same 16 megapixel Super HAD CCD image sensor as Sony cameras that cost half as much again or more, however.
This sits behind a 5x optical zoom lens that gives a fair scope for framing typical scenes, indoors or out. 35mm-equivalent focal lengths range from a reasonable 28mm wide angle to a moderate 140mm telephoto. Maximum aperture is quite dim, starting from f/3.2 at wide angle, and falling to f/6.5 by the telephoto position. Unfortunately, there's no form of mechanical image stabilization, so the only way to get blur-free images is to raise sensitivity to obtain a higher shutter speed, in the process raising noise levels too. And as you really have to expect at the price, the W710 turns in a rather pedestrian performance of just one frame per second. On the plus side, it has a reasonably useful ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 3,200 equivalents.
On its rear panel, the Sony DSC-W710 features a slightly smaller than average 2.7-inch, Clear Photo LCD monitor with a resolution of 230,000 dots. On the front panel, a flash is included, with a range of just 2.7 meters at wide angle when using Auto ISO sensitivity.
Ease-of-use features include Sony's Intelligent Auto mode, which recognizes the scene type and then configures the camera appropriately, as well as a 360-degree sweep panorama function that handles image capture and stitching automatically. All you need do is press the shutter button once and pan across the scene. A Beauty Effect function lets you retouch portrait images to smooth and tone your subject's skin, whiten their teeth, widen their eyes, and remove shine. And as well as stills, you can shoot high-def 720p30 movies, with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels and a rate of 30 frames per second.
The Sony Cyber-shot W710 is powered by a proprietary NP-BN lithium ion rechargeable battery, and includes both composite standard-def video output and USB 2.0 High Speed data connectivity. Images and movies are stored either on SD or SDHC cards, or on Sony's own proprietary Memory Stick Duo cards.
Available in silver, pink, or black-bodied versions, the Sony W710 is priced at US$100 or thereabouts.