Sony packs a surprising number of features and colour choices in its Cyber-shot DSC-W120, a 7-megapixel shooter that teeters on the fence between budget and fashion. It lacks some of the features of the Cyber-shot T- and higher-end W-series cameras, but offers much more than Sony's budget Cyber-shot S-series. It's a camera that stands on its own without catering strictly to budget shoppers or stylish gadget-hounds.
The attractive, metal W120 is available in black, silver, blue and pink (pictured). Curiously, the step-up only comes in silver, black and pink. The 23mm-thick camera weighs just 125g with battery and Memory Stick Duo card, and slips easily into most pockets.
On the backside of the camera, a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD leaves room for a small optical viewfinder, a mode dial and a handful of buttons. While the small, flat controls feel more comfortable than the last generation W90's buttons, they still seem small for our manly thumbs.
The 7-megapixel shooter includes a 32-128mm-equivalent, f/2.8-5.8 lens with Sony's Super SteadyShot optical image stabilisation. The lens offers a slightly longer-than-usual 4x optical zoom, though slight barrel distortion is present at its widest angle. A 9-point autofocus system helps the camera lock on to subjects, and face detection can automatically adjust focus and exposure to suit the faces in your pictures.
Adult and Child Priority face-detection modes can differentiate between and focus primarily on children or adults in group photos, and Smile Shutter mode automatically captures photos when subjects smile. Sony's Photo Music, an in-camera slide show program, lets users show off their photos either on the camera's 64mm screen or, with an optional video connector, on an HDTV. The slide shows can use a variety of transition effects, and users can upload their own soundtracks to the camera.
Despite its broad feature set, the W120 leaves out many of the onboard retouching and picture-editing tools found on most other W- and T-series cameras. Its brother, the W130, comes with several photo filters, such as radial blur, fish-eye lens and unsharp masking. The W120 can only rotate and resize pictures in the camera. Many of these in-camera editing features are more flashy than functional, but it would have been useful to include at least a digital red-eye removal.
In our tests, the W120 performed on a par with or slightly worse than the 8-megapixel W130. After a 1.8-second wait from power-on to capturing its first JPEG, the camera could capture a new photo once every 1.3 seconds with the onboard flash turned off. With the flash turned on, that wait more than doubled to 2.7 seconds.
The shutter felt quick, lagging just a hair longer than the W130 with our high-contrast target. The W120's shutter lag measured half a second compared to the W130's 0.45 seconds. With our low-contrast target both cameras performed admirably, each lagging just one second. Unfortunately, the W120 didn't fare well in burst mode, capturing 12 7-megapixel photos in 12 seconds for a rate of one frame per second. The W130 scored double that rate, recording 15 8-megapixel shots in 7.5 seconds.