Sony DSC W30 Review

Ultra Compact

Picture
Sony DSC W30 Ease of Use 8
Features 7
Movie Mode 8
Build Quality8
Colours 9
Photo Quality 8
Style 8
Lowlight 8
Macro 8
Value for Money 9
6 Megapixels
3x Zoom
2 inch LCD Screen
89 x 59 x 23mm
123g

Overview

The Sony DSC W30 is a six megapixel, pocket sized digital camera. It has a standard three times optical zoom lens. Sony have made the DSC W30 easy to use and it should not take you long to get up and running with this camera.

In terms of price it is very competitive with other digital cameras with a similar specification. Therefore I can see this camera appealing to more or less anyone who is looking for a straightforward camera that they can take anywhere with them and not have to break the bank to buy.

This camera is extremely similar to the Sony DSC W50. The main difference is this model has a smaller LCD screen. It is also the cheaper of the two.

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:

6
3x
2 inches
89 x 59 x 23mm
123g

Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

2cm
No
No
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
Memory Stick DUO

Image Quality

Taking into account the cost and design of the DSC W30 the picture quality is good. I would have liked to have seen some of the images I produced come out sharper. To get better quality photos you will need to either be prepared to pay more or buy a different type of digital camera forgoing the slim design and shape.

The outdoor landscape shots are good without ever quite achieving the highest marks. Colours are strong and the camera does a good job of handling contrast in the lightest and darkest areas of each shot. Whereas some digital cameras struggle to bring out the detail in these areas the DSC W30 compares well with other, more expensive models.

The sharpness of a shot is one of the most critical factors in my opinion. Here the camera does well compared to many others, but does not quite challenge the better compact models. In fairness when you consider the price and design of this camera I think perhaps I am expecting too much of it.

Next the dedicated test for colour produces a strong result. The colours are well balanced, but have depth to them. No single colour dominates. This suggests the photos you take should produce lively, vivid images.

Considering the overcast weather conditions the DSC W30 makes a good stab at the outdoor portrait. To help the camera I set the white balance control to cloudy. This gives a much warmer feel to the shot than there would have been if I had just used the automatic white balance setting.

In terms of clarity and brightness the indoor portrait is excellent. It is rare to come across an indoor portrait where the camera has managed to focus so well. You can see great detail in the hair. This is an area where other cameras tend to produce a lack of definition. It is a shame that the photo is let down by the dreaded red eye. I feel if there was one fault with digital cameras that could be eradicated most people would go for red eye. The truth is it is very hard to find a digital camera of this size that can avoid it.

The other indoor shot of some bottles is taken in more or less complete darkness. Again the camera does tremendously well. This is another photo where the camera is able to focus sharply and produce a bright image despite challenging conditions.

Looking at the macro shot I would say it is slightly above average. Although I would not recommend this camera if one of your main interests was close up photography it is more than capable of producing very acceptable macro shots.

My last tests cover noise (another word for deterioration really) at higher ISO settings. You may wish to use higher ISO levels to overcome lowlight instead of using the flash. The DSC W30 allows you to boost the ISO level right up to 1000. The truth is like most digital cameras it struggles once you hit ISO 400. I would recommend only using these settings if there is no other way of getting your photo.

Shutter Lag and Recycling Times

I was able to take a single shot in 0.16 seconds and five shots in 5.09 seconds. These are both very fast times and indicate you should have no problems when it comes to shutter lag with the DSC W30.

You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.

Features

The 3x optical zoom lens is supported by a 13x smart zoom feature. There is also a 6x digital zoom. The lens has an aperture that works in the range of f/2.8 to f/5.2. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 38 - 114mm in 35mm format. For close up photography the camera can focus from 2cm from the subject when the camera is placed in macro mode.

This is one of the few pocket sized digital cameras that has a viewfinder. As well as the viewfinder you can compose your photos on a 2" LCD screen. The screen is made up of around 85,000 pixels. The screen can display a range of useful information such as low battery indicator, hand shake alert, memory stick space and a histogram.

To help you take the best possible photos there are a number of predefined scene modes. By using a scene mode you signal to the camera the type of photo you are about to take. It then adjusts its internal setting to those that it considers to be the most suitable for the type of photo you are taking. The scene modes are Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow and High Sensitivity.

The flash modes available to you are Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Synchro and No Flash. Red eye reduction can be set on for each of the flash modes. The range of the flash unit is a very healthy 7.3m. This falls to 4m when the zoom lens is in use. To help the camera focus in lowlight there is an AF illuminator.

After you have taken a photo there are a couple of useful features. One allows you to trim or crop a picture. The second lets you resize a photo. This can be helpful if you are looking to make a smaller copy of a picture to send by email or post to the Internet.

There are also two burst modes you can use. The first one allows you to take three consecutive quick shots. The second is called multi burst and takes sixteen photos and stores them in one single image.

The camera has a number of advanced features. These include two types of metering (Multi Pattern and Spot), exposure compensation (+/-2.0 EV, 1/3 EV step), white balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent) and ISO (Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000).

Shutter speeds range from 1 - 1/2000 seconds. These are controlled by the camera and you cannot change them yourself. You do have access to change the level of sharpness, saturation and contrast though.

You can shoot movies up to the capacity of the memory card. The maximum resolution is 640 x 480. The top speed is 30 frames per second. This combination is good enough to create TV quality movies. Zoom is not available when a movie is being recorded, but you can record sound.

Sony supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the DSC W30 to a television set, computer and PictBridge compatible printer.

You can enhance the lens capabilities of the camera by adding conversion lenses. These can increase the wide angle and tele photo capacity of the camera. Along with the Sony DSC W50 the DSC W30 is the only pocket sized camera I am aware of with this capability.

Ease of Use

As with all the Sony digital cameras I have tested the DSC W30 is easy to use. The major controls are found on the back of the camera. These are for selecting the shooting mode, flash, self timer, reviewing images, accessing the menu and for setting macro mode.

If you need to use the menu system then you should find this straightforward. The menu is divided into themes such as white balance and ISO. Once you have found the theme you are looking for it is simple to choose your setting.

Cost

You can pick up a Sony DSC W30 for around £140. This compares to around £200 for a Canon IXUS 60, £145 for a Casio Exilim EX-Z60 and £275 for a Nikon Coolpix S6.

As you can see the DSC W30 has a very low price when compared to other six megapixel, pocket sized digital cameras. Taking the picture quality of the camera into consideration I would say this camera offers great value for money.

Style

In terms of style this is a fairly standard pocket sized digital camera. It is a standard rectangular shape and has a shiny silver finish. The back of the camera is a little bit busy, but and there is just about somewhere to put your thumb while taking a picture.

The camera weighs 133g and has dimensions of 89.8 x 59 x 22.9mm.

Batteries and Memory Cards

Power is supplied to the camera by a rechargeable lithium ion battery (NP-BG1). A battery and charger are supplied with the camera as standard. Sony estimates that you should be able to take around 160 shots with the DSC W30 before the battery needs recharging.

There are 32mb of storage built into the camera. A memory card is not supplied with the camera. 32mb is more generous that normal, but I was still only able to take 15 photos before the memory was full. Therefore I would suggest picking up a high capacity card to go with the camera.

The camera is compatible with Memory Stick Duo cards. Avoid the larger standard Memory Sticks as these are too large for this camera.

Click here to save money on Memory Stick Duo.

Points I like:

Viewfinder
Ease of use
Lack of shutter lag
Value for money

Where it is not so hot:

Red eye

Summary

The Sony DSC W30 is certainly one of the cheapest six megapixel, pocket sized cameras you are likely to find. The camera takes good photos rather than great ones. It has very little shutter lag and works well in lowlight. All in all I would say it offers very good value for money.

Sony DSC W30 Front View Sony DSC W30 Front View

Sony DSC W30 Back View Sony DSC W30 Back View

Sony DSC W30 Top View Sony DSC W30 Top View

Sample Menus

Sony DSC W30 white balance Sony DSC W30 setup

Sony DSC W30 sharpness Sony DSC W30 iso

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Sony DSC TX55 Rating 85/100

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Read Review: Sony DSC TX55 Review

Panasonic DMC FX90 Rating 79/100

Panasonic offers some excellent digital cameras and can normally be replied upon to produce crystal clear photos. As with previous reviews of cameras in the FX part of the range the Panasonic Lumix DMC FX90 just does not match up to those usual high standards. Focusing is softer than it should be and you are likely to see the results of this even with relatively small sized prints.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FX90 Review

Panasonic DMC FX70 Rating 79/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FX70 does not quite match up to the picture quality I am used to seeing from Panasonic digital cameras. It does have a lot of other plus points, but if you are looking for true clarity in your photos there are better pocket cameras around.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FX70 Review

Related Pages

Sony DSC W30 Review Sony DSC W30 Specification Sony DSC W30 Sample Images Sony Digital Cameras

Review Date

May 2006

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