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DCRP Review: Sony
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: May 25, 2007
Last Updated: January 17, 2008
The Cyber-shot DSC-W80 ($250) is a midrange model in Sony's W-series line of compact cameras. It has a number of step-up features from the lower-end models (the W35 and W55), including image stabilization, a faster image processor, face detection, and component video output. That's on top of its more standard features: a 7.2MP CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, and VGA movie mode.
If you're a bit confused about all of the W-series models then, well, you're in good company. I created this chart to help make things a bit clearer for you:
I find myself scratching my head about some of the decisions made in Sony's marketing department when they were designing the 2007 W-series models. Generally when you pay more, you get more. But on the W-series, the more expensive models have half the built-in memory and less expandability compared to the cheap models (the W35 and W55 in this case). The LCD resolution is low across the line, which is disappointing, especially on the W200.
Something else worth pointing out are the features that come with the Bionz image processor (borrowed from Sony's DSLR-A100 digital SLR) on the W80, W90, and W200. You get faster processing, better continuous shooting, face detection, in-camera redeye reduction, and more.
Okay, enough about all that. If you're ready to learn about the Cyber-shot DSC-W80, I'm ready to tell you. Read on, our review starts now!
Since the cameras have much in common, I will be reusing portions of the DSC-W55 review here.
What's in the Box?
The DSC-W80 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like all of Sony's 2007 cameras, the Cyber-shot DSC-W80 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. While the low-end DSC-W35 and W55 have 56MB of built-in memory, the DSC-W80 has just 31MB. That holds just ten photos at the highest quality setting, so you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The W80 uses Sony's Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, which currently top out at 8GB. I would suggest buying a 1GB card for use with the W80. An adapter is included with all MS Duo cards so they work in standard Memory Stick slots.
The DSC-W80 uses the same NP-BG1 lithium-ion battery as all of the recent W-series models. This is the only Sony digital camera battery that I know of that isn't an "InfoLithium", which means that it won't tell you how many minutes you have left before the battery dies. The NP-BG1 has 3.6 Wh of energy, which isn't much, but somehow Sony manages to squeeze good numbers out of it. Here are the battery life numbers for the W80 and the competition:
As you can see, the DSC-W80 is just shy of having the best battery life in its class. Sony's engineers have really done an impressive job of squeezing a lot of juice out of the rather anemic NP-BG1 battery, and they should be applauded for that. I listed the battery life numbers for the
I do have to mention my usual complaints about proprietary batteries, though. They're more expensive than rechargeable AAs (the BG1's prices start at $27), and you can't use "regular batteries" to get you through the day in an emergency. However, finding a camera this small that uses AA batteries is darn near impossible.
When you're ready to charge the W80's battery, just pop it into the included charger. And then go for a day trip or something like that -- the battery will be charged when you get back. It takes a whopping 4.5 hours to charge the battery, which seems ridiculous to me. Naturally, Sony sells a faster charger (which takes just 1.5 hours), but that'll set you back more than $50.
Like with all ultra-compact cameras, the W80 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no lens cap to fumble with.
In one of those great mysteries of life, the DSC-W80 has fewer accessories than its lower-end siblings. That means no conversion lenses, folks. Here's what is available though:
One of the W80's unique features is to output HD quality video to your HDTV. You'll need to buy some accessories to do it, though. The cheap option (and I use this term loosely) is to buy the component video cable, which plugs into the bottom of the camera.
Front of the dock
And the back, with the included remote
Another option is to buy the $79 Cyber-shot Station for TV. Just pop the camera into the dock and you can then charge its batteries or connect to a television. This dock does NOT allow you to connect to a computer! A remote control is also included, so you can sit back and view slideshows from the comfort of your couch.
Contrary to all the labels on the W80 and the box it came in, the camera doesn't output video at "Full HD 1080" (1080p). Instead, it outputs video at 1080i, though most people won't be able to tell the difference. If you're just viewing one photo at a time, they will not fill the screen, unless you took them in the 16:9 mode. The only way to see them full screen is to use the slideshow feature, and then everything looks really nice. For some bizarre reason, movies cannot be played back at all when using the HD cables.
[Section updated 6/5/07]
Picture Motion Browser for Windows
Sony includes version 2.0 of their Picture Motion Browser software with the DSC-W80. This software is Windows only, so Mac users will want to use iPhoto or Image Capture to get photos off of the camera.
The software offers the usual thumbnail view of your photos (shown earlier), plus the calendar view you can see above. From either screen you can select photos for printing, e-mailing, and slideshows. You can also burn them to a CD or DVD.
Double-clicking on any thumbnail brings you to the edit screen. This adds some basic photo editing tools such as redeye reduction, brightness/contrast/saturation adjustment, and trimming. You can also put the date on your photo -- something which the camera itself does not do.
Music Transfer in Mac OS X
Also included is Music Transfer for Mac OS and Windows. You'll use this to customize the slideshow background music on the camera. The camera can hold four separate audio tracks, limited to 3 minutes in length.
Selecting tracks on an audio CD
In theory, you select unprotected MP3s or tracks on an audio CD, and the software will convert it into whatever format the camera uses. In reality, I was unable to get the software to see any of my MP3 files, but it worked fine with CD audio.
Sony's camera documentation has taken a major step backward this year. In the old days you got a full, printed manual in the box with camera. Not anymore. Now you get a printed manual covering the basics, but for more advanced operations you'll have to open up the "Cyber-shot Handbook" on the included CD-ROM. The quality of the manuals themselves is fine, but having to open a PDF to read it isn't cool.
Look and Feel
The DSC-W80 is a slightly more stylish version of the DSC-W35/W55. It's very compact, but not as tiny as some of the really thin cameras on the market. The camera is made mostly of metal, and it feels pretty solid for the most part. The only exception is the plastic door that protects the memory card and battery compartment.
The camera is fairly easy to hold and operate with one hand. Your thumb sits on the mode dial, so you have to make sure that you don't turn it accidentally. There aren't many buttons on the camera, but the few that are there make the back of the camera a bit crowded.
Image courtesy of Sony Electronics
Sony is big on selling cameras in multiple colors, so you shouldn't be surprised to see that the W80 comes in four shades. Choose from black, pink, silver, and matte white.
Okay, now let's see how the stylish and compact W80 compares to other cameras in its class:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Canon PowerShot SD1000
3.4 x 2.1 x 0.8 in.
5.7 cu in.
125 g Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
3.6 x 2.2 x 1.0 in.
7.9 cu in.
165 g Casio Exilim EX-Z75
3.8 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
7.3 cu in.
122 g Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
7.9 cu in.
153 g GE G1
3.6 x 2.5 x 0.8 in.
7.2 cu in.
115 g HP Photosmart R827
3.7 x 2.4 x 0.9 in.
8 cu in.
140 g Kodak EasyShare C763
3.5 x 2.4 x 1.0 in.
8.4 cu in.
130 g Kodak EasyShare V803
4.1 x 2.1 x 1.0 in.
8.6 cu in.
142 g Nikon Coolpix S500
3.5 x 2.0 x 0.9 in.
6.3 cu in.
125 g Olympus Stylus 760
3.9 x 2.1 x 1.0 in.
8.2 cu in.
120 g Pentax Optio A30
3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
7.2 cu in.
130 g Samsung L73
3.9 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
7.2 cu in.
140 g Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W200
3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
9.1 cu in.
142 g Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W55
3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
7.2 cu in.
116 g Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W80
3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
7.5 cu in.