The Sony DSC-W800 is an entry-level camera designed for novice photographers. It follows the W710 released in 2013 and seeks to satisfy the needs of anyone who wants an inexpensive option to keep with them for casual shooting. It has no intentions of breaking the bank and lends increased functionality over the average smartphone camera. If this sounds like something you’re looking for, keep reading this Sony DSC-W800 review to find out more about the camera.
Is the Sony DSC-W800 all it’s cracked up to be? What does it offer? Here is a brief look at the specifications and features that come with this starter camera.
Type: Compact digital camera
Resolution: 20.10 megapixels
Lens: 5.00x Zoom
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inches
- Native ISO: 100 – 3200
- Extended ISO: 100 – 3200
Shutter speed: 1/1500 of a second to 2 seconds
Continuous shooting rate: 1 frame per second
Size: 0.87 x 2.13 x 1.97 inches
Weight: 4.4 ounces
Media storage: MS Duo, MS PRO Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC
First introduced in 2014, the Sony DSC-W800 offers a lot at a cheap price. If you like taking some control, you can adjust settings like white balance, ISO and exposure compensation. You have the freedom to use any of four picture filters to spice up your shots. The camera also boasts a 20.10-megapixel sensor capable of shooting HD 720p footage and an ISO range of 100 – 3200. The 5x optical zoom lens has a 5cm minimum macro focusing ability and a focal range equivalent to 26 – 130mm. The fact that it doesn’t have an optical image stabilization system isn’t much of a surprise given the camera’s limited zoom lens reach and low price tag.
Image Quality & Performance
The lens extends rapidly once you fire up the camera but when it comes to focusing, you will need to wait a few seconds before you can take a shot. The autofocus system performs relatively well in good light, locking into an object almost immediately. However, it slows down a few seconds in low light conditions. Don’t be surprised if, occasionally, focusing fails altogether when shooting in dim light. Macro focusing is more reliable and gives you the opportunity to set the lens to maximum wide angle.
There is a reasonable balance between highlight and shadow detail. The auto white balance is reliable and doesn’t introduce unwanted color casts. Another area where the Sony DSC-W800 excels is optical performance, with the zoom lens producing minimal distortion and good corner sharpness. Unfortunately, there is a little purple fringing in high contrast shots. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the sweep panorama feature, which despite good performance, still leaves you with an extremely soft downsized photo.
If you want to discover another camera from the Sony Cyber-Shot line, check out our review of the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC RX100.
Design & Controls
The Sony DSC-W800 certainly looks the part with black and grey finishes not to mention the sleek styling. The casing that appears like brushed metal is actually painted plastic. It is prone to scratches if not handled carefully. At 96.8 x 55.5 x 20.8 mm and 125 grams, this unit is compact enough to fit in your pocket.
While they are kept to a minimum, the controls are quite easy to use. The dedicated record button has a raised profile that doubles as a something to grip against with your thumb. Combine that with the front finger ridge and this camera will feel secure in your hand.
Navigating the menu is quite easy, especially in Easy Mode. All of the non-essential functions are hidden in Easy mode and the remaining information is enlarged for better visibility. The 2.7″ LCD has a 230k dot resolution, which is pretty low by current standards. You don’t get a touchscreen control and that’s not something to expect given the low price point.
The Sony DSC-W800 offers everything a novice photographer would want from a budget device including;
- Ability to record 1280 x 720 footage at 30 frames
- Built-in mono microphone and mono speaker
- Equipped with contrast auto-focusing system
- Face detection AF for detecting faces in the frame
- Decent performance in bright light conditions
- Sleek styling and black/grey finishes
- Some manual control
- Compact and lightweight construction
- Affordable price
- Good value for the money
The downsides of the Sony DSC-W800 include;
- Maximum light sensitivity is poor by today’s standards
- Lacks viewfinder
- LCD screen has very low resolution
- Slow continuous shooting rate of 1 frame per second
- Sensor is slightly smaller than average
- Slow shutter speed
- Lower true resolution
- Screen is really small
- Restricted zoom range
- Limited LCD viewing angles
At less than $100, the Sony DSC-W800 entry level offers a lot to novice photographers. The menu is easy enough to navigate and so are the controls. This camera is a nice learning tool for those who don’t know much about photography. It makes an average candidate for street photography as well as daily use. While it doesn’t have advanced features like built-in Wifi connectivity and self-cleaning sensor, you still get the worth of your buck and better performance than the average smartphone camera. The compact size is perfect for carrying with you at all times, making it a nice option for the beginner who likes to travel.
This Sony DSC-W800 review has established that the compactness and easy interface are the two main things that make the camera an unobtrusive compact. The image quality, while not the best, is decent when shooting in bright environments. In addition, the Smart Auto mode ensures that your images are well focused and well exposed. On the downside, you don’t get a viewfinder and the panorama mode is quite disappointing. There is also the issue of the limited viewing angles that make it difficult to shoot low or high angle shots. Overall, it is a competent camera for beginners who don’t have a lot to spend. And while it won’t win any quality awards, the photos are passable as long as you don’t scrutinize them at full size.