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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 Overview

Posted: 02/27/2012

Like a really slim, pocket-friendly camera, but don't want to live with the relatively limited zoom range that typically comes with a sub-inch thick body? Sony claims that its Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 is the world's slimmest digital camera with a 10x zoom lens.

Specifically, it's a Sony G-branded 10x optical zoom lens. 35mm-equivalent focal lengths range from 25-250mm for still images at the native aspect ratio, and maximum aperture ranges from f/3.3 to f/5.9 across the zoom range. Sony describes the WX150's autofocus system as "lightning-fast", claiming a focus time of just 0.13 seconds in daylight, and 0.2 seconds in low ambient light.

Effective resolution from the WX150's imager is 18.2 megapixels, and the sensor size is 1/2.3-inch, for a diagonal of 7.77mm. It's a backside-illuminated image sensor, so light gathering should be better than that of a standard CMOS chip. That's because more of the surface area can be devoted to light-gathering, as the circuitry has been moved below the active layer of the sensor. Indeed, Sony has opted for a wide ISO range of 80 to 12,800 equivalents, although we don't yet know if that's at full resolution for the whole range.

On the rear panel of the Sony WX150 is a large 3.0-inch LCD display, with a resolution of 460,800 dots / 153,600 pixel resolution, or around half the resolution of a VGA display, with each pixel being comprised of separate red, green, and blue dots. As you'd expect given the form factor of the WX150, there's no optical or electronic viewfinder.

As well as still images, the WX150 can also record high-definition video at up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution. For movie capture, ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 1,000 equivalents, and can be expanded to ISO 2,000 equivalent. At the maximum resolution, videos are saved with AVCHD compression. A 1,440 x 1,080 pixel mode can be saved either with AVCHD or MPEG-4 compression, and plays back at 16:9 aspect ratio, but with reduced resolution on the x-axis. There are also high-def 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) and standard-def VGA (640 x 480 pixel) resolution options, both of which are saved as MPEG-4 video. The AVCHD video all has a rate of 60 interlaced frames per second, while the MPEG-4 video is at 30 frames-per-second. A built-in microphone provides for stereo audio.

Two different stabilization systems are available for video: either the standard Optical SteadyShot used for still imaging, or a more powerful Active SteadyShot mode that combines optical and digital stabilization, with a resulting increase in the focal length crop. (Translation: wide-angle video is harder to achieve with this enabled, but you can manage an even greater maximum telephoto.) Interestingly, the Sony WX150 can also save 13 megapixel still images during movie capture, without interrupting the video feed. This is achieved using Sony's "By Pixel Super Resolution" technology, a variant of digital zoom that uses both interpolation and pattern-matching to resample the low-res video frame to a much higher resolution.

The Sony WX150 includes both USB 2.0 High Speed data and Mini HDMI high-def video connectivity. Images and movies are stored in a not-so-generous 19MB of built-in memory, or on SD / Memory Stick Duo cards. Supported SD cards include SDHC and SDXC types, while Memory Stick Duo compatibility includes PRO Duo and PRO HG Duo types, as well as Micro and Micro Mark 2 cards with an adapter. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary NP-BN or NP-BN1 lithium ion rechargeable battery pack, with the former in the product bundle. The WX150 is rated as good for 240 shots on a charge, although it isn't stated with which pack type this figure was determined.

Available from May 2012, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 is priced at around US$250. Body colors for this model include black, silver, red, and blue.