Sony DSC-W50 Optics


A typical 3x optical zoom range, with good performance.

2x Digital Zoom

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50 zooms over the equivalent of a 38-114mm range, which is fairly typical for its class. Overall performance is quite good, with good detail and sharpness at wide angle. The 2x Precision Digital zoom takes it out to 6x total, though detail remains pretty good.

A very small macro area, but severe blurring in the corners. The flash had trouble throttling down, and produced an uneven exposure.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50's macro setting captures a very tiny minimum area of only 1.09 x 0.82 inches (28 x 21 millimeters). While the macro area is quite small though, details are somewhat soft throughout the frame, with sharp definition only in the very center of the frame. Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode (evidence of the optical characteristic "curvature of field"), but the W50's blurring extends quite far into the frame. Sometimes, severe curvature of field of this sort is evidence of the camera being asked to focus closer than its minimum focusing distance, but a series of shots with the W50 at progressively greater focal distances showed the same phenomena. Shooting at the minimum macro focal distance, the flash had a hard time throttling down, and couldn't cover the frame evenly. (Plan on using external lighting for any macro shots with the DSC-W50.)

Moderately-low barrel distortion, though high pincushion.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The Sony DSC-W50's 0.6% barrel distortion at wide angle is a little less than average among the cameras I've tested, though still fairly noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end, the W50's 0.5% pincushion is higher than average.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 0.6%
Pincushion at 114mm is 0.5%

Chromatic aberration
Moderate, small effect on images at edges.

Wide: moderate, top left @ 200% Wide: fairly bright, top right @ 200%
Tele: quite low, top left @200% Tele: quite low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate at wide angle, showing about 5-6 pixels of fairly bright coloration on either side of the target lines, but decreases to very low levels at telephoto focal lengths. - The chromatic aberration on the W50's lens was a tad higher than what we saw with the W30, further evidence that the lenses on the samples of the two cameras we've tested behaved slightly differently. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in the corners of the frame at wide angle, though less distortion at telephoto. Better sharpness than average overall though.

Wide: slightly soft in the upper left corner. Wide: sharper at center.
Tele: slightly soft at upper left. Tele: still slightly soft at center.

The Sony DSC-W50 produced slightly soft corners in a few wide angle shots, though at telephoto, sharpness remained more consistent from corner to corner.


Optical viewfinder tight and skewed toward the top of the frame. Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

38mm eq., optical viewfinder 114mm eq., optical viewfinder
38mm eq., LCD monitor 114mm eq., LCD monitor

The DSC-W50's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing only about 82% frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings. However, the LCD monitor showed almost 100% accuracy at both wide and telephoto.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50 Photo Gallery .

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