Sony DSC-W100 Review
Sony W100 Design
The Sony W100 is compact, and stylish, similar in style to other members of the "W" series, with a very thin body style that's quite at home in shirt pockets and small purses. Its silvery body is just a little wider than a typical business card, and about 3/8 inch taller, top to bottom. Measuring 3.75 x 2.50 x 1.00 inches (94 x 61 x 25 millimeters) and weighing 6.8 ounces (192 grams) with the batteries installed, the Sony W100 is relatively thin and light weight. Though just a little larger than the other W-series members, the W100's larger size accommodates a very large 2.5-inch LCD monitor while maintaining the convenience of an optical viewfinder. When not in use, the telescoping zoom lens retracts neatly inside the body, and a small plastic leaf shutter automatically closes over the lens to protect it. Outfitted with the accompanying wrist strap, it's quick on the draw and easy to hold.
Though it's a compact little camera, the Sony W100 has just enough room for fairly good traction up front, with a textured front panel that helps fingers cling to the camera body; use of the included wrist strap is definitely recommended for better security. The 3x, 7.9-23.7mm zoom lens, equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera, is just left of center (when viewed from the back), with a small and very bright orange lamp on the upper right of it, to help with focusing in low-light conditions. This lamp also blinks less brightly when the self-timer is in use, flashing faster to let you know when the camera is about to snap the picture. The flash sits right over the Sony W100's lens, and a tiny window for the optical viewfinder is upper left of the lens. There's also a set of four holes just beside the flash for the camera's microphone.
The right side of the Sony W100 (as viewed from the rear) has a small plastic door that opens to reveal the DC In terminal. Also on this side of the camera is the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.
The left side of the DSC-W100 features a small compartment for the multi-connector jack, covered by a hinged, plastic door that snaps firmly into place. The multi-connector jack allows connection to a computer or television set.
The Sony W100's top panel features the shiny silver Shutter button, surrounded by the Zoom lever. To the left is the small Power button, surrounded by a green LED that lights when the camera is powered on.
The Sony W100's rear panel holds the remaining camera controls and function buttons, along with a large, bright 2.5-inch color LCD monitor for previewing and playing back images, and the optical viewfinder window. The LCD display reports a variety of camera and exposure settings, including the aperture and shutter speed settings (a nice bonus for those interested in how the camera will expose the image) and a battery gauge. The optical viewfinder is located in the far left corner, and has two LED lamps just off the right edge of the window, each of which reports the current status of various camera functions. The optical viewfinder has no dioptric adjustment, but eyeglass wearers will be pleased with the fairly high "eyepoint," allowing a little room for an eyeglass lens between the camera body and your eye. Right of the eyepiece is the camera's speaker. A Playback button is just right of that, for quick access to image review mode. The Sony W100's Mode dial is in the upper right corner. Below the Mode dial are the Display and Menu buttons, and a Five-way Arrow pad, with small arrows pointing in four directions (Up, Down, Left, and Right) and a set button in the middle. Each serves multiple functions, navigating onscreen menus scrolling between captured images in Playback mode, or activating different camera functions (Flash, Exposure Compensation, Self-Timer, and Macro). Below this is the Resolution/Erase button.
The DSC-W100's flat bottom holds the threaded metal tripod screw mount and the shared Memory Stick/battery compartment. While most users of the Sony W100 probably won't be too concerned, it is impossible to change the batteries while the camera is mounted on a tripod.
Sony W100 External Controls
Power Button: Located left of the Shutter button on the Sony W100's top panel, this button turns the camera on and off. A green LED surrounds the button that lights when the camera is powered on.
Zoom Lever: Surrounding the Shutter button on top of the Sony W100, this lever controls optical zoom and, when enabled via the Setup menu, Sony's Smart Zoom or Precision Zoom options.
In Playback mode, this button controls the digital enlargement of a captured image, which can go as high as 5x. (Very handy for checking focus or the expressions on people's faces in group shots.) Also in Playback mode, the wide-angle end of the button activates the Sony W100's Index Display mode, which displays nine thumbnail images on the screen at one time.
Shutter Button (see image above): Surrounded by the Zoom lever, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.
Playback Button: Behind the Power and Shutter buttons and angled down toward the rear panel, this button enables the camera's Playback mode when pressed. A second press returns the Sony W100 to Record mode (as does a half-press of the Shutter button).
Mode Dial: Crowning the top right corner of the rear panel, this ribbed dial sets the Sony W100's operating mode, offering Auto, Program, Manual, High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Beach, Landscape, Soft Snap, and Movie modes.
Display Button: Below the Mode dial, this button controls the LCD display, cycling through the image with information display, the image with information and live histogram display, the image with limited information display, and no image display at all (in all Record modes). In Playback mode, it cycles through a similar series, but does not disable the Sony W100's LCD display.
Menu Button: Just beneath the Display button, this button activates the settings menu in any camera mode. The Menu button also turns off the menu display.
Five-Way Arrow Pad: Located in the lower right corner of the rear panel, this control features four arrow buttons, each pointing in a different direction (up, down, left, and right), and a Set or OK button in the middle. In all of the Sony W100's settings menus, these arrow keys navigate through menu options. Pressing the center of the button confirms selections.
In any record mode, the Up button controls the Flash mode, cycling through Auto, Forced, Slow-Sync, and Suppressed modes. The Right arrow turns the Macro (close-up) mode on and off, and the Left arrow accesses the Exposure Compensation menu. The Down arrow accesses the Self-Timer modes (two- and 10-second options).
In Playback mode, the Right and Left arrows scroll through captured images. When Playback zoom is enabled, all four arrows scroll around within the enlarged view, while pressing the center button returns to the normal, 1x display.
Image Resolution / Erase Button: Lower left of the Five-way Arrow pad, this button displays the available resolutions in any record mode. Choices are 8M (3,264x2,448), 3:2 (3,264x2,176), 5M (2,592x1,944), 3M (2,048x1,536), 2M (1,632x1,224), VGA (640x480), and 16:9 (1,920x1,080). Movie resolutions on the Sony W100 are 640x480, and 160x112-pixels.
In Playback mode, this button lets you erase the currently displayed image.
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.