Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500
Resolution: 18.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 30.00x zoom
(24-720mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 80 - 3200
Extended ISO: 80 - 12,800
Shutter: 1/2000 - 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
(102 x 58 x 36 mm)
Weight: 8.3 oz (236 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 06/2015
Manufacturer: Sony
Full specs: Sony WX500 specifications
30.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500
Front side of Sony WX500 digital camera Front side of Sony WX500 digital camera Front side of Sony WX500 digital camera Front side of Sony WX500 digital camera Front side of Sony WX500 digital camera

Sony WX500 Review -- First Impressions

Preview posted

Enthusiasts looking for a far-reaching zoom compact that can fit in a pocket have an interesting option in the Sony HX90V, but what if you're more of a casual photographer who doesn't need every possible bell and whistle? That's where the Sony WX500 comes in, with much of the feature-set of its higher-end sibling -- including the same 18-megapixel sensor, 30x zoom lens and three-inch tilting display, as well as in-camera Wi-Fi and NFC -- but for a pricetag that's a whole lot more affordable.

Claimed to be the world's smallest compact zoom with at least a 30x zoom lens, the WX500 is just a touch less wide and lighter than the HX90V, at least in part because it lacks that camera's popup electronic viewfinder.

The Sony WX500 has styling that's very reminiscent of the Sony RX100-series, sharing a near-identical control layout to that of the Sony RX100 III, and including an intuitive control dial around the lens barrel. And like the RX100-series -- but not the simultaneously-launched HX90V -- it lacks a handgrip, a decision made in the interests of keeping size down to the absolute minimum.

Inside, the WX500 combines a BIONZ X-series image processor as in the RX100 III with an 18.2-megapixel Exmor R-branded CMOS image sensor. It's significantly smaller than the 1"-type chip in the RX100-series cameras, but that's the tradeoff you have to make to fit a lens this far-reaching in such a compact body. The WX500's sensor uses a backside-illuminated design to help improve its light-gathering capabilities, which should offset the smaller sensor size to at least some degree.

On its front deck, the Sony WX500 boasts a new 24-720mm equivalent 30x zoom lens that carries Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* branding, rather than the Sony G branding of its nearest predecessor, the 2013-model year HX50V. With a maximum aperture of f/3.5-6.4 across the zoom range, it's a little on the dim side, but that's easy to understand when you consider how compact this camera is. And helpfully, it includes five-axis Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which will minimize blur from camera shake at slower shutter speeds.

Looking at the rear of the camera, it's dominated by a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with 921,000 dot resolution. The display is articulated, able to tilt upwards a full 180 degrees so that you can frame self-portraits from in front of the camera. There's also a built-in, popup flash strobe on the top deck.

And just like the more expensive HX90V, the Sony WX500 can record not just stills, but also XAVC S-compressed 50Mbps Full HD movies at up to 60 frames per second. Also included are built-in Wi-Fi and NFC antennas, which make it simple to share your creations on social networks and the like. An important difference from the HX90V, though, is that the WX500 lacks a GPS receiver. If geotagging your images is an important consideration for your usage, you'll want to consider stepping up to the higher-end camera.

Available from June 2015 in black or white body colors, the Sony WX500 is priced at US$330 or thereabouts.

Let's take a closer look at the WX500's features beneath the skin!

Sony WX500 Technical Info

by Mike Tomkins


The Sony WX500 is based around a 1/2.3"-type, Exmor R-branded, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 18.2 megapixels. Total resolution of the imager is 21.1 megapixels, and it has a 4:3 aspect ratio.


Output from the image processor is handled by Sony's proprietary BIONZ X image processor. That's the same type used in the Sony RX100 III enthusiast compact, and it's said to have approximately triple the performance of the BIONZ chip in the earlier HX50V.


The Sony WX500 has a standard sensitivity range of ISO 80 to 3200 equivalents, with the entire range available to the Auto ISO mode. You can also define your own upper and lower sensitivity limits for Auto ISO, should you prefer.

For movie capture, ISO sensitivity is always controlled automatically, and by default operates within a narrower range of ISO 80 to 1600 equivalents. You can, however, allow this to roam as high as ISO 3200 equivalent by enabling the High Sensitivity mode.

In the still image Multi-Frame NR mode, which captures multiple sequential shots, and then merges them in camera to create a single image with reduced noise levels, the upper limit is raised to ISO 12,800 equivalent, but the Auto ISO function still cannot roam beyond ISO 3200 equivalent.


The WX500 allows burst capture at a rate of 10 frames per second, with a buffer depth of 10 full-resolution images.


The Sony WX500's 30x optical zoom lens bears Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* branding, and provides a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 24-720mm equivalent when using the 4:3 aspect ratio. Actual focal lengths range from 4.1 to 123mm, and the maximum aperture falls from f/3.5 at the wide-angle position to f/6.4 by the time you reach the telephoto position.

The lens' optical formula includes 11 elements in 10 groups, of which five elements are aspherics. There's a five-bladed aperture iris, and five-axis SteadyShot image stabilization is also included.

The optical zoom functions during movie capture, and focal lengths vary for movie recording depending on the SteadyShot mode. With a 16:9 aspect ratio and SteadyShot Standard mode, movies are recorded within a 35mm-equivalent range of 26.5-795mm. Enabling SteadyShot Active takes this to 28-1,180mm equivalent, while SteadyShot Intelligent Active mode yields a 31-1,210mm equivalent range.


On the rear deck of the Sony WX500, you'll find a 3.0-inch, Xtra Fine-branded LCD panel with a total resolution of around 921,000 dots and a 4:3 aspect ratio. It has a five-step manual brightness adjustment, and is mounted on an articulation mechanism that allows it to be tilted upwards by a full 180-degrees, allowing for self-portrait shooting.


The Sony WX500 only allows contrast-detection automatic focusing; manual focus is not possible on this camera. The autofocus system has a working range of EV 2 to 16 at ISO 100 equivalent, and can be supplemented with an autofocus assist lamp that can, if you prefer, be disabled.

You have a choice of single-shot or continuous AF, and can select between wide, center, flexible spot or expanded flexible spot modes. The focus point size for flexible spot can be set to small, medium or large. There's also a lock-on autofocus function, and a face detection / recognition function capable of identifying up to eight unique faces.

Focusing is possible to as close as two inches (5cm) at wide angle, and 8' 2" (250cm) at the telephoto position.


The Sony HX90V offers an unusually broad selection of exposure modes for a compact camera, especially one aimed at consumers. As well as Program Auto (with Program Shift function), Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual modes, there are also three customizable Memory Recall modes, two Auto modes (single-shot Intelligent Auto or multi-shot Superior Auto), plus Scene, Panorama and Movie modes.

Scene modes on offer include Portrait, Advanced Sports Shooting, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Handheld Twilight, Night Portrait, Anti Motion Blur, Backlight Correction HDR, Pet Mode, Gourmet, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Soft Skin and High Sensitivity. Intelligent Auto mode can recognize 33 distinct scene types for still imaging, or 44 scene types for movie capture, while the Superior Auto mode can also identify 44 distinct scene types.

Exposures are determined by default using multi-pattern metering, with center-weighted and spot metering options available. Exposure compensation is provided within a range of +/-3EV in 1/3EV steps. The metering system has a working range of EV 2 to 16 at ISO 100 equivalent.

Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to four seconds in Auto or Program modes, eight seconds in Aperture-priority mode, and 30 seconds in Shutter-priority or Manual modes.

A total of eleven white balance modes are provided, including Auto, eight presets, Custom and One Push / One Push Set.

If you need to throw a little more light on your subject, the Sony WX500 includes a built-in, popup flash strobe on its top deck, released with an adjacent switch. Five flash modes are provided: Auto, On, Off, Slow-sync and Rear-sync, and these can be combined with optional red-eye reduction. Using Auto ISO sensitivity, the flash strobe has a working range of approximately 1-17.7 feet (0.3-5.4m) at wide angle, or a rather restrictive 8.2-9.8 feet (2.5-3.0m) at telephoto.


If you want to tweak your images further in-camera, the Sony WX500 provides a range of picture effect functions, including Toy Camera, Pop Color, Posterization, Retro Photo, Soft High-key, Partial Color, High Contrast Mono., Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Richtone Monochrome, Miniature, Watercolor and Illustration. All of these apply only to still image capture, and aren't available for movies.

Noise reduction -- either long-exposure or high ISO -- can't be disabled or adjusted on this camera.

If you're a fan of panoramic imagery, you'll be happy to hear that the Sony WX500 supports Sony's Intelligent Sweep Panorama function, and allows full 360-degree panoramas to be created and stitched in-camera, as well as the regular Standard and Wide panorama options.

To help yield flattering portraits and selfies, the Sony WX500 includes a Beauty Effect function in Playback mode which can smooth and tone skin, remove shine, widen eyes, and whiten teeth.


As well as still images, the Sony WX500 can also record movies at up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel; 1080p/i) resolution. Recording formats on offer include XAVC S, AVCHD version 2.0, and MPEG-4. XAVC S movies include stereo LPCM audio, while AVCHD movies have stereo AC-3 Dolby Digital Stereo Creator audio. Finally, MPEG-4 movies have stereo MPEG-4 AAC-LC audio. A wind noise filter function is provided.

Which filetype you can record in -- and at what frame rate and bit rate -- depends on your capture resolution. XAVC S video allows frame rates of 24, 30 or 60 progressive-scan frames per second, with a fixed 50Mbps bitrate. For AVCHD video, bitrates range from 17 to 28Mbps, and frame rate choices include 24 or 60 progressive-scan frames, or 60 interlaced fields per second. Both XAVC S and AVCHD compression are available only at Full HD resolution. Finally, MPEG-4 compression works at either Full HD or HD (1,280 x 720 pixels; 720p) resolution, and allows either 30 or 60 frames-per-second capture at Full HD, or 30 fps capture at HD resolution. Bit rates range from 6 to 28Mbps.

Wireless connectivity

The Sony WX500 can connect to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless networks using the 2.4Ghz band, courtesy of a built-in Wi-Fi radio. Pairing with Android devices can be achieved using an NFC Type 3 tag, and one-touch remote / sharing functions are also available by NFC. Since Apple devices don't support third-party NFC, iOS users will need to pair manually.

Wired connectivity

There are also a couple of wired connectors on the Sony WX500: A USB 2.0 High Speed data port, and an HDMI high-definition video output. Both use micro connectors.


The USB 2.0 port also doubles as a charging terminal for the Sony WX500's proprietary NP-BX1 lithium-ion battery pack, which recharges in-camera. Both a USB charger and battery pack are included in the product bundle. Battery life is rated at 390 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards.


The Sony WX500 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or Memory Stick Duo media, with the two card types sharing a single slot. For SD cards, both SDHC / SDXC and UHS-I card types are supported, while for MS Duo, you can use PRO Duo, PRO Duo (High Speed) and PRO HG Duo card types. Wi-Fi equipped Eye-Fi SD cards are also compatible, although given the presence of in-camera Wi-Fi, there would seem to be little reason to use one.

Still images are stored only as sRGB JPEG-compressed files. Raw capture and the Adobe RGB color space aren't supported on this camera.

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