Sony DSC-W570 Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570
Resolution: 16.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(25-125mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 80-3200
Shutter: 2-1/1600
Max Aperture: 2.6
Dimensions: 3.6 x 2.0 x 0.4 in.
(91 x 52 x 9 mm)
Weight: 4.1 oz (116 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $180
Availability: 02/2011
Manufacturer: Sony
16.10
Megapixels
5.00x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570
Front side of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 digital camera Back side of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 digital camera Top side of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 digital camera Left side of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 digital camera Right side of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 digital camera

Imaging Resource rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570
User Report

by Greg Scoblete, Shawn Barnett, Zig Weidelich, and Stephanie Boozer
Review Posted: 09/01/2011

Sony's 16-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is an ultra-compact digital camera in Sony's budget-conscious W-series. At under half an inch thick, it's barely bulkier than your run-of-the-mill smartphone, yet it takes better pictures.

Despite its slim and trim build, the Sony W570 still manages to pack a 5x wide-angle optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch LCD display. With a price tag of just US$180 you shouldn't be expecting the most full-featured digital camera on the market, and the W570 has just a modest helping of features. Still, you'll find a few goodies, including Sony's Sweep Panorama mode, optical image stabilization, and HD (720p) video recording.

Look and Feel: The Sony W570 is definitely an eye-catching camera. Its diminutive profile helps, measuring 3.6 x 2.0 x 0.78 inches (92.2 x 52 x 19.9mm). It slips easily into your pocket. Given its size, you shouldn't expect a lot in the way of ergonomics, and the Sony W570's boxy size doesn't give you much to grab onto except a small piece of camera real estate on the sides. You don't really "grip" the camera so much as lightly hold it aloft. But that's okay. It's a trade-off you should expect in an ultra-slim compact. Be sure to attach and use the included wrist strap.

Aesthetically, the Sony W570 has a sleek, sophisticated look. From the top, you can see the rectangular microphone hole, power button, and shutter button. The shutter button is a chrome arc that rises subtly above the surface, making it easier and more comfortable to press. Some will have trouble with the Sony W570's recessed power button, but I just mashed my finger over the button and it activated. A green LED lights just left of the button for only a moment to show that you've powered on the camera.

The silver metallic accents on the Sony W570's lens barrel can sparkle when the light hits it at the right angle. You'll have your choice of four colors too: violet, silver, pink, and black. In the looks department at least, the Sony W570 is a far cry from the dull, bulgy budget cams that used to populate the sub $200 camera market.

Lens: Despite its trim form, the Sony W570 still manages to pack a capable 25-125mm (35mm equivalent) Carl Zeiss 5x optical zoom lens (f/2.6-6.3 in two steps), using a neutral density (ND) filter instead of an actual aperture. It's a telescoping lens that, when parked, rests almost completely flush with the camera body, ensuring its sleek exterior. Having a wide-angle lens is always welcome in any size camera and the W570 is no exception. When you start recording movies you won't go quite as wide -- 28mm in 16:9 mode and 34mm in 4:3 -- as the W570 will crop down the sensor in Movie Mode.

Wide and tele. Ranging from 25-125mm, the Sony W570 serves basic snapshot needs well.

The Cyber-shot W570 contains Sony's retinue of digital zoom boosters. The Smart Zoom brings the zoom from 5x to 6.3x when shooting 10-megapixel photos. You can magnify further still if you knock back the resolution: up to 36x for a VGA-resolution image, but we're not sure why you'd want to reduce resolution that much. You have to set the Smart Zoom in the menu, but the camera won't automatically engage smart zoom unless you first lower the resolution of your photo. There's also a Precision Zoom, which goes up to 10x zoom.

The Sony W570 is also outfitted with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which does a nice job keeping things relatively stable.

Macro mode does a good job with these flowers.

For Macro focusing, you can get as close as 5cm at wide-angle. While you can't set the camera into Macro manually, the W570's iAuto Mode will automatically adjust for you as your subject swells into view. You'll also have your choice of Spot, Center, or Multi, with 9 Autofocus points, which you can set in the Menu while in Program Mode. Face detection and Smile detection are also available on the Sony W570, with Big Smile, Normal Smile, and Slight Smile as detection options. Pressing the left button on the controller disk activates smile detection, and when your subject smiles sufficiently, the shutter fires. You can also have the camera's face detection prioritize for adult or children's faces.

Controls: As you'd expect, space is at a premium on the Sony W570, so the external controls are on the small side and are bunched close together. That said, as someone with large fingers ("sausage-like" in my wife's words), the controls aren't all that difficult to access using the corner of your thumbnail.

On the back of the camera is a Zoom lever and a slide to switch between three modes: Photo, Sweep Panorama, and Movie Mode. A tiny Playback button sits just to the left of the Mode Switch and a four-way controller for the display, Smile Shutter, Flash, and Self-Timer rests beneath. Below are two very small buttons for accessing the camera's menu and the In-Camera Guide/Trash. The Playback button powers up the camera in Playback mode without deploying the lens; pressing it again switches the Sony W570 to record mode.

Modes: There's not much in the way of shooting modes on the W570. Sony offers the usual "Intelligent Auto" Mode (iAuto) for point-and-shoot photography, plus Program, which leaves you a little more control. Scene Modes include High Sensitivity, Soft snap, Landscape, Twilight Portrait, Twilight, Gourmet, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Pet, Underwater, and Soft Skin. There's no Scene Mode option for sports or fast-moving subjects.

Movie. Sample 1,280 x 720 movie of a passing train, 15.6MB.

Movie Mode: The Sony W570 does offer a selection of movie recording sizes and formats. First is HD Fine, capturing 1,280 x 720 at 30fps at 9Mbps; next is Standard, recording 1,280 x 720 at 30fps and 6Mbps; Then there's 640 x 480, at 30fps and 3Mbps. Encoding is MP4, and the maximum movie clip is 29 minutes. The quality is disappointing, especially when compared to some other higher-end Sony Cyber-shots. Colors frequently appeared washed out with plenty of noticeable pixilation. The one virtue is that you can use the zoom lens while recording, however the autofocus wasn't all that robust -- frequently video would swim in and out of focus as the lens sought to lock in. Audio is recorded via a mono microphone -- not unusual for a camera in this price range.

You will have some modest control over your movies, though. The Sony W570 allows you to set the Exposure, White Balance and Metering Mode before you film. Ultimately, the video off the W570 will do in a pinch, but don't expect to be all that impressed.

Finally, there's an Underwater Movie Mode which optimizes your White Balance and other settings if you're taking the W570 underwater -- using, we stress, an underwater housing, which is sold separately.

Sweep Panorama: Sony didn't incorporate the newer Intelligent Sweep Panorama Mode, which has found its way onto other 2011 Cyber-shots, in the W570. Nonetheless, you'll still find the plain old Sweep Panorama for easy in-camera panoramic stitching, and that's pretty good indeed. Sweep Panorama vastly simplifies panoramic photography. You simply press the shutter and gently glide the camera horizontally (or vertically, depending on user settings) and the W570 captures and processes multiple images into a single panoramic photo. Available sizes depend on mode and how you choose to sweep: Standard, Horizontal: 4,912 x 1,080 or Vertical: 3,424 x 1,920, Wide: Horizontal: 7,152 x 1,080 or Vertical: 4,912 x 1,920.

Measuring 7,152 x 1,080 pixels this panorama is quite wide. The sidewalk approaching the fountain is the same
one that appears on the far right of the screen.

The process isn't always error-free, especially if there any moving objects in your frame, but it's far and away the simplest method for stitching an in-camera panoramic photo.

There is also an Underwater Sweep Panorama Mode which Sony says optimizes White Balance in the event you're shooting the W570 beneath the waves (Note: you need an underwater housing for this mode, as the Sony W570 is not waterproof.)

Sony W570 menu system

Menu: The Sony W570 uses the same menu system that's found on the company's other 2011 compacts, which is good, as it's a nice, intuitive menu system that's easy to navigate using the four-way controller. Press the Menu button on the W570's back and you'll pull up a series of menu items arrayed down the left side of the 2.7-inch display while retaining your image preview. The icons are large and easy-to-read, and while there's not much in the way of descriptive text to guide novices around, it's pretty self-explanatory.

For those who may want some additional hand-holding, you can set the W570 into Easy Mode and get a streamlined interface that limits your ability to make adjustments to camera settings. You can also avail yourself of an In-Camera Guide. It's accessible through a dedicated button on the back of the camera or in the menu. The guide not only explains almost all of the core functions of the camera, it also gives you direct access to the functions you were just learning about so you can make changes to the camera settings immediately.

Sony W570 guide menu

The Guide is divided into six sections: Shoot/Playback Guide, Icon Guide, Troubleshooting, Objective Guide, Keyword and History. Shoot/playback explains the various modes in the camera while the icon guide explains what each icon on the W570's display means. In the Objective Guide you can learn what specific functions do and there is some overlap here with the Shoot/Playback portion of the menu. In Keyword, you can search the Guide by select keywords (obviously) and in History you can view all the various guide pages you have already used in case you require a bit more information. All told, quite a nice feature to have on board the camera.

Storage and Battery: The Sony W570 uses a lithium-ion battery rated by CIPA for 220 images, which is on the lower side of the longevity scale but still sufficient for more than a day's worth of shooting. The battery is housed in a latched compartment beneath the camera. It pops in and out easily enough, however the plug for the multi-connector cable is adjacent to the battery compartment -- so the door must be closed if you wish to use the connector cable.

Your photos and videos are stored to either a Memory Stick Duo or SD card. 27MB of internal memory is included (you can store three full resolution images internally), so you'll definitely need a card. If you plan on recording HD videos, SDHC, SDXC at speeds of Class 6 or higher, or Memory Stick PRO Duo Mark 2 cards are recommended.

Sony W570 playback menu

Playback: As far as image playback, you'll find some limited editing capabilities as well as some slideshow features. You can playback your images in a slideshow with or without some pre-loaded music. If you opt for music you'll have a choice of four five-minute songs. You can also load your own music using included software, which you may want to consider, given that Sony's audio choices are pretty limited.

DRO Plus. When shooting in high-contrast lighting, turn on DRO or DRO Plus to bring out detail in the shadows.

In-camera slideshows come with four options: simple, nostalgic, stylish or active. When set to simple you can also choose the interval at which images slide past. If you just want to scroll through capture images and videos you can view them by folder or the date they were captured. There are basic editing functions available in the Playback menu that include resizing, red-eye removal and the ability to apply an unsharp mask effect to a photo (the camera saves this edited version, preserving the original).

Shooting: One of the unquestioned benefits of the Cyber-shot W570 is its portability -- it's definitely not a burden to bring with you to the ballfield or day at the beach. Beyond its slim exterior, there's not much to it by way of features. It's basically point-and-shoot, with some wiggle room for elemental tweaks along the way when set to Program Mode. That's nice if you're a casual shooter, but limiting if you need your camera to do a bit more.

Detail. The Sony W570 captures some pretty good detail in bright light.

On the performance side, the Sony W570 is middle of the road. It starts up fast enough (2.7 seconds according to our lab tests), but isn't all that quick when it comes to shot-to-shot time (3.5 seconds). I found myself waiting on it quite a few times as crucial action whizzed by. Burst mode isn't much better, clocking in at a sluggish 1.1 frames per second for up to just three full resolution frames. The camera's light, but far from light speed. Still, full autofocus shutter lag is a faster-than-average 0.39 second, and prefocus shutter lag is a blazing 0.016 second, so it's not all bad.

Fast-moving subjects were often difficult to focus on as well, which proved problematic when I whipped out the W570 during a tee-ball game. Set to iAuto, the camera couldn't always deliver a sharply focused snapshot.

In slower moving settings outdoors, the W570 took some decent snapshots, although highlights were frequently over-exposed. Indoors, noise did tend to rear its pixelated head, perhaps the result of just too many pixels (16 million of the them!) crammed into such a compact camera body.

The W570's 2.7-inch display is fairly easy to read when in bright sun, but images frequently appear washed out onscreen when exposure is generally okay. Overall, the Sony W570 has its positives -- a high-resolution sensor in a small, light body, but muted color, poor video quality, and unreliable autofocus conspire to make it harder to recommend.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Strong blurring at upper left
Tele: Slightly soft at center
Tele: Only mild blurring, upper left corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570's zoom shows very strong blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, and blurring extends quite far into the image area. (The strongest blurring is in the upper right corner at this setting.) At telephoto, performance is much better, with only mild blurring in the corners compared to center (which is also a hint soft).


Wide: Slight pincushion distortion; only slightly noticeable
Tele: Virtually no distortion

Geometric Distortion: There is a small amount of pincushion distortion at the Cyber-shot DSC-W570's wide-angle setting (0.1%), probably due to some overcorrection on the camera's part, and barrel distortion in the other direction. At telephoto, we couldn't find a full pixel of distortion, just about a half pixel of barrel distortion. We're assuming the DSC-W570's processor is hard at work here.


Wide: Very strong
Tele: Quite Low

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is high in terms of pixel count, and pixels are very bright. Telephoto, however, shows less noticeable distortion, with much more faint red and blue pixels suggested.


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570's Macro mode is sharp in the lower portion of the image center, but soft above. Some blurring is present in the corners, but isn't bad (this is a common limitation among consumer digital cameras in macro mode). Minimum coverage area is 2.55 x 1.91 inches (65 x 49mm), which is fair. The camera's flash is partially blocked by the lens, due to the close shooting range, so the resulting exposure is uneven.


 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570's LCD monitor showed about 101% coverage accuracy at wide-angle, and about 100% at telephoto, which is very good.


 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 Image Quality


Color: Overall color is fair, though bright yellows are slightly muted, and strong reds and blues are pumped a little high (blues more so than reds). Hue is noticeably off for colors like yellow, orange, and cyan. Dark skintones are pushed significantly toward red/orange, while lighter skin tones are more accurate (if slightly undersaturated). Overall, fairly average performance here.


Auto WB:
Good, though slightly warm
Incandescent WB:
Too warm
 
Manual WB:
Very good

Incandescent: Manual white balance handled our incandescent lighting much better than the Incandescent setting, which came out with a strong warm cast. Auto produced better results than average, though with a slight reddish tint.


Horizontal: 2,200 lines
Vertical: 2,100 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,200 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 2,100 lines vertically. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,850 lines per picture height.


Wide: Bright
Tele: Fairly bright
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) produced bright results at the rated wide-angle distance of 12.1 feet, though the DSC-W570 raised the ISO to 800 do boost exposure. At 4.9 feet, the telephoto test came out fairly bright, though ISO is again at 800.

Auto flash produced bright results in our indoor portrait scene, retaining a small amount of the ambient light by using a slower shutter speed of 1/30 second, and raising ISO to 500. At this shutter speed, it is possible to hand-hold the camera steadily, but a tripod is highly recommended in lower lighting shots like this. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.5m) on a stable tripod.


80
100
200
400
 
800
1,600
3,200

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is fairly good at ISO 80 and 100, though overall details are a bit soft. Some breakdown begins at ISO 200, with a noticeable shift by ISO 400–both in softer details and a slightly cooler color balance. From ISO 800 on up, noise pattern becomes more obtrusive, obliterating fine detail. Chroma noise also affects color. By ISO 3,200, the image is practically unusable. For more on how this affects printed images, see the Printed section below.


Print Quality:

ISO 80 and 100 shots look good printed up to 13x19 inches, with the exception of red areas, which are quite soft due to noise suppression, something unusual at these settings.

ISO 200 shots have good detail at 13x19 inches, but the softening in red areas is still bad. Reduction to 11x14 helps a little.

ISO 400 images are better kept to 8x10.

ISO 800 shots are soft but usable at 8x10, still soft but usable at 5x7.

ISO 1,600 shots are a little better than usable at 5x7, made from downsized images (in camera).

ISO, 3,200 shots are too soft and grainy at 5x7 and 4x6. We definitely recommend against using this setting in most situations.

Overall, the Sony W570 does fairly well from ISO 80 to 200, but image quality rapidly deteriorates from ISO 400 on up. The fine detail available at lower ISOs is of course due to the camera's 16.1-megapixel sensor resolution, but that's also likely why detail is lost so quickly.


 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 Performance


Startup Time: The Sony W570 takes about 2.7 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's about average for its class.


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is good, at 0.39 second at wide-angle and 0.43 second at full telephoto. Prefocused shutter lag is 0.016 second, very fast.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is quite slow, capturing a frame only every 3.5 seconds in single-shot mode. Sony rates the W570's continuous mode at about one frame per second for three frames, also slow.


Flash Recycle: The Cyber-shot DSC-W570's flash recycles in about 3.8 seconds after a full-power discharge, which is good.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was only able to focus down to just above the 1/4 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570's download speeds are fast. We measured 8,908 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • Sony DSC-W570
  • Battery charger BC-CSNB
  • Lithium-ion Battery NP-BN1
  • USB/AV cable
  • CD-ROM with Picture Motion Browser software
  • Wrist strap

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo card. These days, 4GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 8GB should be a minimum.
  • Camera case

 

Sony W570 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Slim, attractive design
  • 25mm wide-angle lens
  • 5x optical zoom in a compact package
  • iAuto provides point-and-shoot ease
  • Sweep Panorama Mode for easy panoramic stitching
  • In-Camera Guide offers easy assistance
  • Intuitive menu system
  • Fast full-AF and prefocus shutter lag
  • Fast flash recycle
  • Good Auto White Balance
  • Poor HD video quality
  • Colors muted in snapshots
  • Highlights were often over-exposed
  • Sluggish shot-to-shot performance
  • Autofocus is hit-and-miss
  • Print quality drops off quickly from ISO 400 on up
  • Soft corners at wide-angle
  • Small controls
  • So small and light it can be hard to hold

 

The Sony Cyber-shot W570 is an okay ultra-compact digital camera, but definitely not one of Sony's strongest efforts. On the plus side of the ledger, it's sleek and portable. It's a no-brainer to use with a helpful In-Camera Guide a button-press away to assist you. While there's not much in the way of features, the Sony W570 does offer Sony's innovative Sweep Panorama and DRO Modes. On the down side, focusing was often problematic both for stills and video. A relatively slow performer, the W570 might struggle to keep up with those who need to snap a lot of fast-moving action. We think the Sony W570 is fine if you're not a picky shooter and just want something light and portable that will make small to mid-size prints, but it doesn't earn a Dave's Pick.

 

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