Sony Cyber-shot W800 review

Sony's bargain Cyber-shot is big on features but light on your pocket

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Our Verdict

If you're after a simple point and shoot camera that'll slip easily into a pocket or bag and perform reliably, the W800 fits the bill. But if you pay just a little more you can get cameras with longer zooms and better quality.

For

  • Reasonable performance in good light
  • Some manual control
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Low price

Against

  • Poor low light image quality
  • Extremely soft panoramas
  • Very limited LCD viewing angles
  • Restricted zoom range

The W800 is Sony's entry level Cyber-shot compact camera, but despite the low price, it still packs a 20.1-megapixel CCD sensor with a sensitivity range of ISO100-3200, as well as HD 720p video recording.

Up front is a 5x optical zoom lens with a focal range equivalent to 26-130mm and a 5cm minimum macro focusing ability. There's no optical image stabilisation system, but this isn't surprising given the camera's price and the lens's limited zoom reach.

The W800 is aimed very much at novice photographers and includes several scene modes to help capture great shots in tricky environments like parties or at night. There's also a simplified menu setting which hides all but essential information.

If you do fancy taking some control, the W800 allows you to adjust settings like exposure compensation, white balance and ISO sensitivity. There are also four Picture Effect filters to help spice up your shots, as well as Sony's 360° Sweep Panorama mode, which automatically stitches a panoramic image as you pan the camera.

Traditionally, sub £100/$100 cameras have often been powered by AA batteries, which add bulk and don't always last very long, which makes the low purchase price less appealing. This isn't a concern with W800 though, as it runs off a proper rechargeable Li-ion battery.

Build Quality and Handling

The W800 certainly looks the part with its sleek styling and black or grey finishes. The casing has the appearance of brushed metal, but it's actually painted plastic and is prone to marks and scratches if you're not careful.

Sony Cyber shot W800

The W800 also comes in grey, but that brushed metal look is actually painted plastic.

At just 96.8 x 55.5 x 20.8mm, the W800 will easily slip into a jeans' pocket, and its 125g ready-to-shoot weight means it won't be a burden.

Controls are kept to a minimum to help make the camera extremely easy to use. There is a dedicated video record button, though, and its raised profile doubles as something for your thumb to grip against. Combined with the front finger ridge, it makes the W800 feel fairly secure in the hand, even if the smooth casing still makes it a smart idea to use the included wrist strap.

Operating the camera is a cinch thanks to the simple menu system, especially when this is set to Easy mode, whereby all non-essential functions are hidden and remaining information is enlarged for easy visibility.

Sony Cyber shot W800

The W800's controls and menu system are simple, but the rear screen is weak, with low resolution and poor viewing angles.

It's a good job the menu design is clear, however, as the 2.7" LCD screen's 230k-dot resolution is low by current standards and pixelates fine detail. The screen's cheapness is also apparent from its poor viewing angles, which cause images to appear very washed out when viewed from high angles and almost entirely black when viewed from below. You don't get touch screen control, but you wouldn't expect it at this price.