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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 Ken McMahon, November 2009
   
 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 verdict

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 is a 12.1 Megapixel budget compact with a 4x optical zoom lens and a 2.7 inch screen. It includes a number of features only previously available on more expensive W models including Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation, scene recognition, smile shutter and DRO (Dynamic Range Optimiser) which enhances shadow and highlight regions.

The Cyber-shot DSC-W220 can shoot VGA (640 x 480 pixels) video at two frame rates and a smaller 320 x 240 size at 8 frames per second.

As well as Easy mode, intended for total novices, the camera has an Auto mode with scene recognition, numerous scene modes and a Program auto mode that allows control of ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, metering, focussing and some other settings, but falls short of any kind of manual exposure control.

The Cyber-shot DSC-W220 is a good value compact with a wide range of features including some, like fixed-focus presets and auto bracketing, that you wouldn't expect to find on an entry level compact.







Compared to Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / PowerShot SD1200 IS

 
 
     

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 has the edge on the Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS in many ways. Though slightly larger and heavier than the Canon, and lacking its style, it packs an extra 2 Megapixels of resolution, has a 25 percent longer optical zoom range and a larger screen.

There's no doubting the advantage of a longer lens range, and the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 does indeed zoom slightly wider and longer than the Canon. But whether the extra resolution offers a real advantage is less clear cut. Both cameras have the same size CCD sensor and the clear result of packing a larger number of smaller photo sites on the Sony's sensor is that it's images are noisier than than those of the Digital IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS.

And while the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 has a marginally larger screen, it's not as clear and bright as that of the IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS, added to which the Canon users can fall back on the, albeit tiny, optical viewfinder when the situation demands it.

There are other differences between the cameras that may sway you one way or the other depending on personal preference. Like all Sony compacts the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 uses Memory Stick Duo media and a proprietary USB and video connector. But overall, we think the Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS is the better choice of these two budget compacts. See our Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / PowerShot SD1200 IS review for more details.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 verdict

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 is a good value basic compact with some great features including a 4x optical zoom, face detection, scene recognition and Sony's DRO image enhancement technology. It's a well built camera that feels solidly constructed and provides a variety of easy to use shooting modes all of which provide a degree of control over camera settings at some level, should you want it.

Sadly, the picture quality from the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 is not all it might be. Digital noise is an issue at every ISO setting, and the camera's attempt at minimizing its impact does little to improve things. The noise problem is added to by less than sparkling edge definition and colour fringing.

We'd say these problems cancel out any advantage the Cyber-shot DSC-W220's 12.1 megapixel sensor confers in terms of the ability to produce prints up to A3 size - the noise and other problems will show. But if you rarely make big prints or view all your photo's on screen at a quarter actual size, this may not be such a big deal. Certainly, if you ignore the image quality issue, in every other respect the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 is a very capable budget compact, but if image quality is paramount to you, then the Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS is a better bet for the money.

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Good points
Inexpensive and well-built compact.
4x optical zoom range.
Scene recognition in Auto.
HD output with optional cable.

Bad points
Digital noise throughout ISO range.
Colour fringing.
No optical zoom when filming.
LCD panel lacks contrast.



Scores

(relative to 2009 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

17 / 20
13 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
16 / 20

79%

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