Sony DSC-W130 Review

 
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Sony W130 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Very good overall color and hue accuracy, though some oversaturation of strong reds and blues.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Saturation. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 oversaturates red and blue tones a fair amount, and actually undersaturates strong yellows and greens a bit. This is typical of consumer models, but we found its colors pleasing on a wide range of typical subjects. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, with the color balanced properly for the light source, the Sony W130's skin tones were a little on the pink and reddish side, just a bit more than natural. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 showed some strong color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, pushing cyan toward blue and red toward orange. Overall color still looked pretty good, however. Hue is "what color" the color is.


See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm color with both Auto and Incandescent white balances, lower than average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.7 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.7 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was warm in both Auto and Incandescent white balance modes. We stuck with the Incandescent setting, as it had slightly less of a reddish cast. The Sony DSC-W130 required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is a little less than average for this shot. The warm cast increases the reddish tone in Marti's face, and the blue flowers appear very dark and purplish. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Slightly flat and dark color, good exposure, though with high contrast in harsh lighting.

Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 did reasonably well, with good exposure in the outdoor far shot, except that shadows are too deep and highlights too bright. The shirt is too hot at the default exposure, though skin tones are close to where they should be. Shadow detail is almost obliterated by noise and noise suppression efforts, though highlight detail isn't too bad. Color is a bit dark in both shots, though fairly accurate otherwise. Overall, a pretty good performance, just very high contrast.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, 1,450 ~ 1,600 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,450 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 1,450 lines vertically. Extinction didn't really occur, though lines began to merge around 1,800-1,900 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, with some edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits detail in the deep shadows.

Definition of high-contrast
elements shows some edge
enhancement as well as a little
noise suppression.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
Marti's hair here.

Sharpness. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 captures fairly good detail overall, though enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows moderately high noise suppression at the lowest ISO setting, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing limited detail. Individual strands become lost as shadows deepen. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though a jump in noise with strong blurring at the higher settings.

ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200

Noise levels and efforts to suppress noise are quite evident at the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130's higher sensitivity settings, though noise isn't too strong at the lower, normal settings. At ISO 400, noise is a little high, but more noticeable is the noise suppression, which blurs detail. At ISOs 800, 1,600, and 3,200, noise and noise suppression are much stronger, with greatly decreased detail and definition.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but high contrast and limited shadow detail. Limited low-light capabilities, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness only at the highest sensitivity settings.

Default Exposure +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 had some difficulty dealing with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing very high contrast with washed-out highlights and deep shadows, even at the default exposure setting. Shadow detail is quite limited, with the effects noise suppression evident in the form of smudged detail in deeper shadow areas. The camera didn't require any positive compensation to get proper exposure of skin tones, though the overall exposure is a bit dim. Anything brighter resulted in too strong highlights. Be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)




  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
100
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1 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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f2.8
ISO
200
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0.6 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
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1 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
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0.4 sec
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0.6 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
ISO
800
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1/5 sec
f2.8
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0.3 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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0.6 sec
f2.8
ISO
1600
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1/10 sec
f2.8
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1/6 sec
f2.8
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0.3 sec
f2.8
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0.6 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
ISO
3200
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1/20 sec
f2.8
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1/13 sec
f2.8
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1/6 sec
f2.8
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0.3 sec
f2.8
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0.6 sec
f2.8

Low light. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 only captured bright images at the lowest light level with the highest sensitivity settings. At the lower, normal ISOs, the image was quite dim even under the brightest test lighting here (equivalent to average city street lighting at night). At ISO 200 and 400, images were bright to about 1/2 foot-candle. Color balance was pretty good with the Auto white balance setting, except there was a strong green cast at ISOs 1,600 and 3,200, at the lowest light levels. The camera's autofocus system worked a little better than its exposure system, as it was able to focus on the subject almost down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted, and down to the darkest light level with the AF assist enabled. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
A fairly powerful flash at close range, though not a match for the camera's 4x optical zoom. Our standard shots required slightly lower-than-average exposure compensation, and coverage was pretty uniform.

32mm equivalent 128mm equivalent
Normal Flash
High Intensity
Slow-Sync Flash
Normal Intensity

Coverage. Flash coverage was slightly uneven at wide angle, with some falloff in the corners and around the edges of the frame. At full telephoto, the target was too far away for the flash to illuminate it at just 4x. In the Indoor test, the Sony W130's flash underexposed our subject just a little at its default setting, requiring a boost to the High Intensity setting. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced slightly brighter and more even results at the default exposure, with better overall color despite slight pink-orange tints from the background lighting.

Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see W130FL06W.JPG
1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
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1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
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1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
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1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
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1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL11W.JPG
1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see W130FL12W.JPG
1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
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1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
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1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL15W.JPG
1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL16W.JPG
1/40 sec
f2.8
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see W130FL06T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL07T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL08T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL09T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL10T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL11T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see W130FL12T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL13T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL14T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL15T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100
Click to see W130FL16T.JPG
1/50 sec
f5.8
ISO 100

ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 remained fairly bright out to a distance of about 8 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, the target at 6 feet was already dim.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see W130FL_MFR128WA0640.JPG
12.8 feet
Auto ISO 640
Click to see W130FL_MFR062TA0400.JPG
6.2 feet
Auto ISO 400

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the wide angle shot above, the Sony W130 seems to perform about as Sony says it will, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto, which notably raised the setting to 640. At telephoto, the image is a little dim, and the camera again boosted ISO to 400 to compensate. There's also a huge swath of magenta across the top half of the wide-angle shot, whose origin we cannot determine. This does not appear in our other test shots, but several of the ISO 100 shots also show a dimmer version of this phenomenon. It's probably flare from one of the specular highlights in the shot, but we have not seen it before. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, good color, reasonably sharp 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are still good at 8x10.

The Sony Cyber-shot W130 had enough resolution to make good looking 11x14-inch prints at its lowest ISO setting of 100. 13x19-inch prints were softer, probably too soft for wall hanging. ISO 200 shots are good at 11x14, with good color and detail, but chroma noise is visible in the shadows, and noise suppression starts to step on fine detail. Prints look better at 8x10. ISO 400 shots are soft at 8x10, and dark colors and shadows are filled with colored blotches. Red and green especially lose detail. At 5x7, ISO 400 shots are better so long as you don't look closely. ISO 800 shots are soft but still usable at 5x7, with the same notes on red and green softness and an overall obliteration of fine detail by the noise suppression that's not as critical at this size. 4x6 looks better, but only a little. Fine detail in reds is completely gone at ISO 1,600 and 4x6, but high contrast areas still have some detail. At ISO 3,200 4x6-inch images are soft overall regardless of contrast, and a film-like grain adds a touch of personality. Overall, not a bad performance, but below average compared to other modern 8-megapixel point-and-shoots.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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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.

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