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DCRP Review: Sony
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: April 11, 2008
Last Updated: March 11, 2009
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 ($249) is a compact camera with a 5X optical zoom lens, image stabilization, 2.7" LCD display, optical viewfinder (yay), VGA movie mode, and more.
The W150 is part of Sony's five camera W-series, and I put together this chart to show you the differences between the various models:
Alright, with that out of the way, we can begin our review of the Cyber-shot DSC-W150!
Since the cameras have so much in common, I will be reusing portions of the DSC-W130 review here.
What's in the Box?
The DSC-W150 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like most point-and-shoot cameras these days, Sony built memory right into the DSC-W150, in lieu of bundling a memory card. The W150 has 15MB of memory, which won't hold very many 8 Megapixel photos. Therefore, you'll want to buy yourself a Memory Stick Duo card right away, and a 1GB card is a good place to start. MS Duo cards come with an adapter that allows them to fit into regular Memory Stick slots (like on printers or card readers).
The DSC-W150 can use two different batteries: the included NP-BG1, and the optional NP-FG1. The only difference between the two is that the NP-FG1 has the InfoLithium feature, which allows the camera to tell you exactly how many minutes of juice you have left. Both of these batteries have 3.4 Wh of energy, which is on the low end of the spectrum. Despite that, Sony managed to squeeze out some excellent battery life, as illustrated by this chart:
Despite its relatively anemic battery, the DSC-W150 managed to tie the Casio EX-Z200 for the best battery life in this class. Way to go, Sony!
I should mention a couple of "gotchas" regarding the proprietary battery used by the DSC-W150 (and every other camera on the above list). For one, they're fairly expensive -- buying a spare NP-BG1 will set you back at least $25, with the FG1 costing at least $43. Secondly, if the BG1 or FG1 runs out of juice, you can't use an off-the-shelf battery like you could on a camera that uses AA batteries. This is one of the trade-offs that comes with owning a compact camera.
When you're ready to charge the W150's battery, just pop it into the included charger (which plugs directly into the wall -- my favorite). And then be prepared to wait, as the charge times are excruciatingly slow -- a typical charge takes a whopping 4.5 hours. If you want a faster charger, then you'll have to pony up at least $33 for the BC-TRG charger, which takes only 1.5 hours to charge the battery.
As is the case with all compact cameras, the W150 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with.
The DSC-W150 has a decent amount of accessories for a compact camera, and I've compiled them into this handy chart for you:
Not a bad selection, if I do say so myself! The underwater housing appears to be unique to the W150 and W170. One thing missing here is an AC adapter -- there isn't one.
[Accessories list updated 5/16/08]
My production-level DSC-W150 did not come in a retail box, so I did not get the software CD-ROM. When you open the box, you'll find Sony's Picture Motion Browser 3.0 (Windows-only) and Music Transfer (Mac/Windows) software. Picture Motion Browser is a basic image acquisition and editing tool, while Music Transfer lets you custom slideshow music onto the W150. You can read more about Picture Motion Browser 2.0 (the last version I tested) in my DSC-T200 review.
Sony breaks the DSC-W150's manual into a few parts. In the box, you'll find a printed "Instruction Manual", which has enough information to get you up and running. For more details, you'll have to open up the "Cyber-shot Handbook" on the included CD-ROM (grrr). The quality of the manuals are just okay -- there's a lot of fine print, and they're not what I'd call pleasure reading.
Look and Feel
The DSC-W150 is a compact camera (though not as thin as, say, Sony's T-series models), made almost entirely of metal. The front panel has a brushed metal appearance, which looks pretty nice. The W150 feels pretty well put together, save for the usual weak spot: the door over the memory card/battery compartment.
The camera can be used with one hand without much trouble. Your thumb sits right on the mode dial, so you have to be careful not to accidentally turn it. The W150's buttons are on the small side, as the 2.7" takes up most of the real estate on the back of the camera.
Images courtesy of Sony Electronics
It's almost a requirement for a compact camera to come in multiple colors, and Sony certainly didn't disappoint in that area. The W150 comes in silver, red, black, and gold. No, that's not actual gold. Really.
Now, here's a look at how the DSC-W150 compares to other compact cameras in terms of size and weight: