Full reviewAs the current top-of-the-line model in its Cyber-shot W series, Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W100 shares almost everything with its siblings, the , the and the : it uses the same ultracompact 190g body, 38mm-to-114mm 3x zoom lens (35mm equivalent) and bright 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD. The W100 ups the resolution to 8 megapixels, sports a textured finish on its metal front panel and adds a manual-exposure mode, but ultimately isn't a much more compelling buy than the similar-performing W50, which costs £60 to £70 less.
Like the other models, we found the DSC-W100 to be an easy camera to learn and to use, though the frequent trips into the menu system to change the metering scheme, the ISO speed and the burst mode make it cumbersome to change these oft-used settings. The tiny controls complicate matters further.
Sony's inclusion of a manual-exposure mode is an odd choice as well. Semi-manual modes -- program shift, shutter-priority and aperture-priority -- tend to be much easier to use and more practical for casual photographers. Furthermore, since the camera provides only two aperture choices for a given focal length, the DSC-W100's manual exposure is actually quite difficult to use.
One advantage the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100 has over the DSC-W70 is a sensor that's capable of shooting at ISO 80. Photos shot at this sensitivity level -- and to a certain extent, at ISO 100 -- are relatively sharp with little noise and few processing artefacts. Beyond that, the aggressive noise-suppression algorithms kick in, blurring and smearing details. Photos print reasonably well to as large as 203x254mm (8x10 inches), but they look a little soft and foggy. In addition to some distortion in the bottom corners at its wide angle, the lens also produces some cyan and magenta fringing on the sides, as well as purple fringing on high-contrast edges.
When you toss the DSC-W100's movies into the picture, the camera suddenly looks a lot more appealing. Though you wouldn't want to play its standard-quality VGA captures at 100 per cent, they look very good at QVGA (320x240). And its fine-quality movies look quite impressive played at actual size.
Despite being a solid shooter in good light, as well as performing strongly on movie capture, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100 can't match the value of less expensive, lower-resolution competitors such as its brother, the DSC-W50, nor can its photos match those of the low-noise Fujifilm FinePix F30 or the Canon Digital IXUS 60.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
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(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Additional editing by Kate Macefield