Sony WX350 Review -- First Impressions
By William Brawley
For fans of getting a lot of zoom in the smallest camera possible, Sony has the solution with its Cyber-shot WX350 digital camera which features a 20x optical zoom in an ultra-compact body. For even more zoom when you need it, the camera offers Sony's Clear Image Zoom technology for a full optical + digital zoom ratio of 40x.
The Sony WX350 is touted as the world's smallest and lightest compact camera with a 20x optical zoom lens. Weighing in at featherweight 4.8 oz. (137g) and measuring only 96 x 54.9 x 25.7mm, the Sony WX350 can fit just about anywhere -- jeans pocket, shirt pocket, etc. -- and not weigh you down. However, despite being very compact, the camera still has the real estate to house a large 3-inch ClearPhoto LCD with 460K-dots of resolution.
Imaging and Performance. This new ultra-slim camera also packs some high performance specs under the hood. The WX350 features the same BIONZ X image processor as Sony's high-end A7/A7R full-frame mirrorless cameras as well as the RX10 all-in-one, but uses a much smaller 1/2.3-inch 18.2-megapixel Exmor R backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. The sensor and processor combo allows the WX350 to have a very versatile ISO range, reaching all the way up to ISO 12,800 equivalent.
Apart from the versatile ISO range, the WX350 features an impressive 10fps continuous burst shooting capability. On the video side of things, in addition to Full HD 1080/60p video recording capabilities (in AVCHD format; an MP4 option is also available at lower resolutions), the WX350 features a new "Motion Shot" video mode. This fast action mode creates a video sequence with superimposed shots of a moving subject, such as a person running on the track or a racecar coming around the curve, for a progressively-building frame-by-frame effect.
The Lens. The 20x optical zoom lens gets Sony G branding and features a variable max. aperture of f/3.5 - 6.5. The lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 24-1200mm in 4:3 mode, which is some serious zoom performance in such a small camera! The optical formula is comprised of 11 elements in 10 groups, including 5 aspherical elements.
Built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization helps out in low-light situation when shooting at slower shutter speeds, or when fully zoomed. The WX350 also includes Sony's new O.S.S. Intelligent Active Mode for movies, which is an enhanced digital image stabilization technology that helps smooth out clips while you're recording video. Sony claims that it can even keep your videos steady while your running!
Battery, Storage and Connectivity. The Sony WX350 joins the ranks of other recent Sony cameras to feature both built-in Wi-Fi and NCF connectivity. Photographers can use both iOS and Android devices with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app to share and even remotely control the camera. The addition of Near Field Communications for use with compatible Android devices allows for one-touch pairing of your smart device to the camera. Physical connectivity consists of Micro HDMI output and multi-use AV/USB connections.
The WX350 uses SD and SDHC (Class 4 or higher) as well as MemoryStick PRO DUO (Mark 2 only for video recording), MS DUO (no video recording) and MS PRO-HG DUO storage media. The lithium-ion rechargeable battery is CIPA-rated for a very generous 470 shots per charge, and is charged in-camera via the included AC adapter and USB cable.
Availability. Arriving March 2014, the Sony WX350 will be available in a black or white color for around US$320.
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