Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX5

The WX5 is a perfectly serviceable and sexy compact camera with a bright lens and tons of features, but its images leave a lot to be desired.


7.7
CNET Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Sony is stepping up its game in the compact camera space, churning out cameras that not only look attractive but also try to meet the mark on the important stuff like good quality pictures.

The TX9 and this camera, the WX5, are the latest compacts to jump on the bandwagon, toting style with substance.

Design and features

Underneath the brushed metal front panel is a 24mm wide-angle Sony G lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.4-5.9. Apart from the obvious external differences, the main differentiators between this camera and the more expensive TX9 are the increased zoom range (5x from 4x optical zoom), smaller screen (2.8-inch vs. 3.5-inch touchscreen) and the lens itself; the TX9 uses a Zeiss lens.

Both record video in HD resolution at 1080i in AVCHD, and have the same 12.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor. There's a teeny tiny stereo microphone nestled into the top panel of the camera, near the power button and shutter/zoom rocker that sit almost flush with the camera.

Around the back is where things start to look a little cheaper than the TX9 — the screen is smaller and the mode buttons look a tad less refined. There's plenty of shooting modes for those who are inclined to step away from automatic: background defocus, 3D sweep panorama and 3D sweep multi-angle (see our test from the TX9), iSweep panorama, program mode and over 10 dedicated scene modes with options ranging from pet to backlight correction HDR. For a full overview of the 3D modes available, please see our review of the TX9.

There's a lonely HDMI output connection on the side of the camera, covered by a flap. Apart from this, there's little else to distinguish the camera on external features.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • Shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

Editor's note: in continuous shooting mode, using the high interval, the TX9 takes 10 frames at one time before pausing to process them.

Image quality

Even though the image sensor is the same between the TX9 and WX5, there's a fair bit of difference between the images each camera takes, which we're putting down to the lens. Some of the WX5's images appear almost dreamy at full magnification, with chromatic aberration apparent and over-processing being another issue that makes us deduct points.

It also likes to blow out highlights quite dramatically, as you can see from the sample images below. Colour rendition is reasonable but not spectacular, and automatic white balance too seems a little off. The lens has a fair amount of distortion at its widest end, which is expected given it's 24mm.

Video quality is much the same as the TX9, with the same encoding options available (AVCHD at 1080i). There is a reasonable amount of interlacing visible on the final image, a little more noticeable than videos shot with the other camera.

Image samples

Click each image below for JPEGs straight from the WX5. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.

Exposure: 1/80, f/4.5, ISO 125

Exposure: 1/400, f/7.1, ISO 125

Exposure: 1/125, f/5.9, ISO 160

Exposure: 1/100, f/5, ISO 160, flash fired

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The WX5 is a perfectly serviceable and sexy compact camera with a bright lens and tons of features. Its images leave a lot to be desired, though, and if you're looking at purchasing the WX5 we strongly suggest you spend a few more dollars and upgrade to the TX9 for better image quality.

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