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DCRP Review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130  

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: March 31, 2008
Last updated: May 19, 2012

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The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is a compact, 8.1 Megapixel camera. It features a 4X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, 2.5" LCD display, face and smile detection, a VGA movie mode, and more. The W130 is one of five models in Sony's W-series of compact cameras, and if you want to see what differentiates all of them, have a look at this chart:

Feature DSC-W120 DSC-W130 DSC-W150 DSC-W170 DSC-W300
Street price
(at time of posting)
$195 $245 $249 $299 $349
Resolution 7.1 MP 8.1 MP 8.1 MP 10.1 MP 13.6 MP
Optical zoom 4X 4X 5X 5X 3X
Focal length (35 mm equiv.) 32 - 128 mm 32 - 128 mm 30 - 150 mm 28 - 140 mm 35 - 105 mm
Lens max. aperture F2.8 - F5.8 F2.8 - F5.8 F3.3 - F5.2 F3.3 - F5.2 F2.8 - F5.5
LCD size 2.5" 2.5" 2.7" 2.7" 2.7"
LCD resolution 115,000 pixels 115,000 pixels 230,000 pixels 230,000 pixels 230,000 pixels
ISO range 100 - 3200 100 - 3200 80 - 3200 80 - 3200 80 - 3200
Intelligent Scene Recognition No No Yes Yes Yes
D-Range Optimizer No No Yes Yes Yes
Enhanced playback mode No No Yes Yes Yes
Supports underwater case No No Yes Yes No
Battery life
(CIPA standard)
350 370 400 390 300
Available colors Black, silver, pink, blue Black, silver, pink Black, silver, gold, red Black, silver, gold, red Black

I hope that clears up any confusion you may have about the various W-series models!

Ready to learn about this compact, point-and-shoot camera? Then keep reading -- our review starts right now!

What's in the Box?

The DSC-W130 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 8.1 effective Megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W130 camera
  • NP-BG1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB + A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Picture Motion Browser, Music Transfer, Cyber-shot Handbook, and drivers
  • 37 page basic manual (printed) + 127 page full manual (on CD-ROM)

Like most point-and-shoot cameras these days, Sony built memory right into the DSC-W130, in lieu of bundling a memory card. The W130 has 15MB of memory, which won't hold very many 8 Megapixel photos. Thus, you'll want to buy yourself a Memory Stick Duo card, and fast. I'd recommend picking up a 1GB card to start with. 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-W130 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 get some great battery life numbers, as illustrated by this chart:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Canon PowerShot SD850 IS * 230 shots
Casio Exilim EX-Z200 * 400 shots
Fuji FinePix Z100fd * 170 shots
GE E840s 200 shots
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS * 225 shots
Nikon Coolpix S520 * 180 shots
Olympus Stylus 840 * 190 shots
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 * 310 shots
Pentax Optio M50 210 shots
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 * 370 shots

* Has image stabilization

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

As you can probably tell, the W130's battery life is well above average. Only Casio does it better.

I should mention a couple of "gotchas" regarding the proprietary battery used by the DSC-W130 (and every other camera on that 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 W130'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, with a typical charge taking 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.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 in the hand

As is the case with all compact cameras, the W130 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with.

The DSC-W130 has a decent amount of accessories for a compact camera, and I've compiled them into this handy chart for you:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Wide-angle lens VCL-D0746 From $53 Reduces the focal length by 0.75X, bringing the wide end down to 24 mm. Conversion lens adapter required.
Telephoto lens VCL-D2046 From $59 Boosts the telephoto end of the focal range by 2.05X, to 262.4 mm. Requires conversion lens adapter.
Conversion lens adapter VAD-WE From $30 Required for the conversion lenses above.
Macro ring light HVL-RLS From $66 Lights up your macro photos. Attaches via tripod mount.
Cyber-shot Station CSS-HD2 From $53 This camera dock charges your battery, and can connect to a computer or to an HDTV. Includes component and composite video cables, and a remote control.
HD output cable VMC-MHC1 From $31 1.5 m component video cable (with stereo audio as well) lets you connect to an HDTV
Fast battery charger BC-TRG From $33 Charges the battery in 1/3 the time of the included charger
Carrying cases


From $26
First one's a soft (nylon?) case, the second is red leather.
Accessory kits ACC-CLGB
From $40
Both include a leather case; first one has the NP-BG1 battery, the second one has the NP-FG1 InfoLithium battery
* Prices were accurate when review was posted

Not a bad selection if I do say so myself! The one thing missing here is an AC adapter -- there isn't one available.

[Accessories selection updated 5/16/08]

My production-level DSC-W130 did not come in a retail box, so I did not get the software CD-ROM. For everyone else, Sony includes Picture Motion Browser 3.0 (Windows-only) and Music Transfer (Mac/Windows) with the camera. Picture Motion Browser is a basic image acquisition and editing tool, while Music Transfer lets you custom slideshow music onto the W130. You can read more about Picture Motion Browser 2.0 (the last one I tested) in my DSC-T200 review.

Sony breaks the DSC-W130'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 Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is a compact camera made mostly of metal. It's not as thin as Sony's T-series cameras, closer in size to a deck of cards. The camera is made mostly of metal, with the front having a "brushed" appearance. The only weak spot is the flimsy-feeling plastic door over the memory card and battery compartment.

The camera controls are well-placed, though some of the buttons are on the small side. The camera can be operated with just one hand, though it felt a lot more stable if I used both.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 in black, pink, and silver
Images courtesy of Sony Electronics

Sony was one of the first to offer cameras in multiple colors, so you shouldn't be surprised to see that the W130 is available in black, pink, and silver.

Now, here's a look at how the DSC-W130 compares to other compact cameras in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot SD850 IS 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.0 in. 7.9 cu in. 165 g
Casio Exilim EX-Z200 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.3 cu in. 119 g
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 in. 6.3 cu in. 138 g
GE E840s 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.8 in. 6.7 cu in. 95 g
Kodak EasyShare M893 IS 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.1 cu in. 117 g
Nikon Coolpix S520 3.7 x 2.1 x 0.9 in. 7 cu in. 115 g
Olympus Stylus 840 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 130 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 3.7 x 2.1 x 0.9 in. 7 cu in. 119 g
Pentax Optio M50 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.3 cu in. 116 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.2 cu in. 123 g

The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is a bit above the group average in terms of size. Even so, the W130 is still quite small, and it'll fit into any pocket you may have.

Okay, let's start our tour of the DSC-W130 now, beginning with the front of the camera.

Front of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

The DSC-W130 uses an all-new 4X optical zoom lens, up from 3X on previous W-series models. With a maximum aperture range of F2.8 - F5.8, the W130's lens is on the slow side at full telephoto. The focal range of the lens is 5.35 - 21.4 mm, which is equivalent to 32 - 128 mm. While the lens is not threaded, you can still attach conversion lenses using the optional adapter (which uses the tripod mount, I believe).

Deep inside the lens is Sony's Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization system. If you've been frustrated with blurry photos, especially in low light conditions, then you'll appreciate this feature. Sensors inside the camera detect the camera shake caused by tiny movements of your hands, and the camera moves a lens element to counteract this movement. It won't stop a moving subject, nor will it allow for handheld 1 second exposures, but it will allow you to use shutter speeds that would result in a blurry photo on an unstabilized camera.

Want some evidence? Have a look at this:

Image stabilization off

Image stabilization on

Both of the above photos were taken at a shutter speed of 1/5 second and, as you can see, both the calculator and the tax form (grr) beneath it are a lot sharper with image stabilization turned on. You can use Super SteadyShot in movie mode as well, as this brief video clip illustrates.

To the upper-right of the lens is the optical viewfinder, with the AF-assist lamp next to that. The AF-assist lamp is used as a focusing aid in low light situations, and it doubles as a visual countdown for the self-timer as well.

Moving to the opposite side of the lens, we find the W130's microphone and built-in flash. This tiny flash isn't very powerful, with a working range of 0.2 - 3.9 m at wide-angle, and 0.5 - 1.9 m at telephoto (at Auto ISO no less). Officially, you cannot attach an external flash to the W130, but I can't help but think that the Sony HVL-FSL1B slave flash would work just fine.

Back of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

The first thing to see on the back of the DSC-W130 is its 2.5" LCD display. While the screen is good-sized, the resolution is lacking: there are just 115,200 pixels. You'll definitely notice this when you use the screen, so if you can find a way to check out the W130 before you buy it, do it. While outdoor visibility was good, low light viewing could definitely be better -- the screen doesn't brighten as much as I would have liked.

Just above the LCD is the camera's optical viewfinder. Yes, it's really tiny, since most cameras in this class don't have one at all, I'll take what I can get. There's no diopter correction feature (not surprisingly), which is used to focus what you're looking at.

Moving now to the top right of the photo, you can see the W130's zoom controller. It moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.4 seconds. There aren't many steps in the 4X zoom range, though -- I counted only nine.

Below that is the camera's mode dial, which is packed to the gills with options. They include:

Option Function
Easy shooting mode As simple as you can get: only two menus options (image size and flash setting), with everything else being automatic
Auto record mode Point-and-shoot, some menu options locked up
Program mode Still point-and-shoot, but with full menu access
Movie mode More on this later
Scene mode Select the situation, and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from twilight, beach, snow, and fireworks
Twilight portrait More commonly used scene modes get their own spots on the mode dial
Soft snap
Smile Shutter
High sensitivity

There are a few things to talk about before we continue the tour.

The Easy Menu

While the DSC-W130 has no manual controls, it does have plenty of auto modes to choose from. The Easy Shooting mode (borrowed from Panasonic) has just two options: image size (large and small) and flash setting (auto, off). The auto record and program modes are quite similar, with the latter having more menu options available.

The W130 has Sony's famous Smile Shutter feature, which has been enhanced since I last used it. Simply put the camera into Smile Shutter mode, press the shutter release down, and the camera begins hunting for smiles (a "smile meter" is shown on the LCD). When it detects one, it takes a photo (up to six are taken). You can adjust the sensitivity and whether adults or children have "priority" in the record menu. Does it work? You bet -- quite well, in fact. The only real negative is only one person in the frame needs to be smiling in order for a photo to be taken.

The high sensitivity mode will boost the ISO up to 3200, in order to obtain a blur-free photo. Unfortunately, the resulting image will quite noisy and lacking in detail (example), making it not great for printing. Thus, I'd skip this one.

Below the mode dial you'll find the Menu and Home buttons. The menu button does just as it sounds -- it opens the traditional record or playback menu. The home button -- which I secretly hoped would disappear on Sony's 2008 cameras -- opens a totally separate menu system. I'll tell you about both of these menus later in the review.

Continuing downward, we find the four-way controller. You'll use this for menu navigation, as well as:

  • Up - Display (toggles info shown on LCD)
  • Down - Self-timer (Off, 2 or 10 sec)
  • Left - Macro (Auto, on)
  • Right - Flash setting (Auto, flash on, slow synchro, flash off)

The last two buttons on the back of the camera are for entering playback mode, and for starting a slideshow.

Top of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

On the top of the DSC-W130 you'll find the speaker, plus the power and shutter release buttons.

Side of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

Nothing to see here.

Side of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

Nothing here, either. The lens is at telephoto end in this shot.

Bottom of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

Our tour ends with a view of the bottom of the W130. Here you'll find the battery/memory card compartment, metal tripod mount, and the cable/dock connector. The door covering the battery/memory compartment is on the flimsy side. In addition, you will not be able to get at the memory card while the camera is on a tripod.

The cable/dock connector is where you'll plug in the included USB+A/V cable, or the optional HD video cable. It's also what attaches the camera to the optional HD camera dock. The W130 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard, for fast data transfer to your Mac or PC.

The included NP-BG1 battery can be seen at right.

Using the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

Record Mode

The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 takes less than 1.2 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. That's pretty snappy.

A histogram is available on the LCD in record mode

The DSC-W130 is a quick performer in terms of focusing. At the wide end of the lens, you'll usually wait between 0.1 and 0.3 seconds for the camera to lock focus. At the telephoto end, you'll wait for around twice that. Focus times rarely approached one second, which is good news. In low light, the camera focused relatively quickly, and accurately too.

I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds where it sometimes occurs.

Shot-to-shot speeds were excellent, with a delay of about a second before you can take another shot. If you're using the flash, expect to wait two or three seconds before you can take another photo.

You cannot delete a photo right after it's taken -- you must first enter playback mode.

There are just a couple of image quality choices available on the DSC-W130. You can't actually control the amount of compression applied to each image -- you can only change the resolution. Here's the brief list:

Resolution # images on 15MB on-board memory # images on 1GB memory card (optional)
3264 x 2448
4 306
8M (3:2 ratio)
3264 x 2176
4 309
6M (16:9 ratio)
3264 x 1840
5 326
2592 x 1944
6 390
2048 x 1536
10 626
2.1M (16:9 ratio)
1920 x 1080
16 1002
640 x 480
96 6013

See why I recommended buying a memory card right away?

The camera does not support the RAW or TIFF image formats, nor would I expect it to.

The file numbering system used by Sony is quite simple. Files are named DSC0####.JPG, where #### = 0001 - 9999. The numbering is maintained as you erase and swap memory cards.

As I mentioned earlier, the DSC-W130 has two totally separate menu systems. The one you get by pressing the Menu button is traditional, attractive, and easy to navigate (though it's a big sluggish). The Home menu, on the other hand, doesn't really know what it is. It's redundant, useful options require too much button-pressing, it too is just too slow.

Traditional record menu

Enough complaining -- let's talk about what options you'll find in each of these menus. First, the traditional record menu. Keeping in mind that some of these options may not be available in all shooting modes, here's what you'll find there:

  • Scene selection (Twilight, beach, snow, fireworks) - only available in SCN mode
  • Image size (see above chart)
  • Face detection (Off, auto, child priority, adult priority) - see below
  • Smile detection (Off, child priority, adult priority) - only available in Smile Shutter mode
  • Smile sensitivity (Low, medium, high)
  • REC mode (Normal, burst, bracket ±0.3, ±bracket 0.7, ±bracket 1.0) - see below
  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
  • ISO sensitivity (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200) - more on this later
  • Metering mode (Multi, center-weighted, spot)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent 1/2/3, incandescent, flash) - no custom option, unfortunately
  • Focus mode (Multi, center, spot AF, 1.0, 3.0, 7.0 meters, infinity)
  • Flash level (Low, normal, high)
  • Redeye reduction (Auto, on, off) - whether the flash fires before the shot is taken for redeye reduction purposes
  • Color mode (Normal, vivid, sepia, black & white)
  • SteadyShot (Shooting, continuous, off) - see below

I'd like to talk about a few of those before continuing on to the Home menu.

The camera found all six faces in our test scene

First up, face detection. Sony's implementation of this now "required" feature is excellent. The W130 can detect up to eight faces in the frame, and you can choose to have it prioritize for adults or children. The camera easily found all six faces in our test scene, and it worked just as well in the "real world", as well.

Next, how about those REC mode options? In burst mode, the W130 took ten shots in a row at 2 frames/second before slowing down to around 1 frame/sec. According to Sony, you can take up to 100 shots in a single burst, and I have no reason to doubt them. The LCD keeps up well with the action. The three exposure bracketing modes all work in the same way. The W130 takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure value. The exposure interval between each shot can be ±0.3, ±0.7, or ±1.0 EV.

There are three SteadyShot (image stabilization) options to choose from. If you want to compose your photos without the effects of camera shake, then choose "Continuous". For more effective blur reduction, choose "Shooting", which doesn't activate the IS system until the photo is actually taken. You can also turn the whole thing off, which is advisable when the camera is on a tripod.

Home Menu Shooting settings, found via the Home Menu

So far, about all I've told you about the Home menu is that I don't like it. Enough about that, here are the options you'll find inside it:

  • Shooting
    • Shooting - yes, really
  • View Images
    • Single image
    • Image index
  • Slideshow
    • Slideshow
    • Music Tool - used for transferring music from your computer
  • Print
    • Print
  • Manage Memory
    • Memory Tool
      • Memory Stick Tool (format, create/change rec. folder, copy)
      • Internal Memory Tool (format)
  • Settings
    • Main Settings
      • Main Settings 1
        • Beep (Shutter, on, off)
        • Function guide (on/off) - whether a description of functions is shown on the LCD
        • Initialize
      • Main Settings 2
        • USB Connect (Auto, PictBridge, PTP/MTP, Mass Storage)
        • Component video (HD, SD)
        • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
        • Wide zoom display (on/off) - whether images are shown at 16:9
    • Shooting Settings
      • Shooting Settings 1
        • AF illuminator (Auto, off)
        • Grid line (on/off)
        • AF mode (Single, monitor) - see below
        • Digital zoom (Off, precision, smart) - see below
        • Conversion lens (Off, wide, telephoto)
      • Shooting Settings 2
        • Auto Orientation (on/off)
        • Auto Review (on/off) - post-shot review
    • Clock Settings - set date/time
    • Language Setting

There are two AF modes offered by the Cyber-shot DSC-W130. Single AF is what most people are used to: press the shutter release halfway, and the camera locks the focus. Monitor AF starts focusing before you even touch the shutter release button. This reduces the focus times, but it puts an extra strain on battery life.

There are two digital zoom modes available on the camera. Precision digital zoom just digitally enlarges the shot, which reduces image quality -- it should be avoided. Smart digital zoom allows you to get closer to your subject without reducing image quality, but the catch is that you must lower the image size. If you go down to 3 Megapixel (perfectly acceptable for 4 x 6 inch prints) you'll increase the W130's zoom power to 6.4X.

Alright, that's it for menus -- let's move onto photo tests now, shall we?

The first thing you'll probably notice about the macro test shot is a brown color cast. The camera lacks a custom white balance option, and the presets can't handle my quartz studio lamps. This shouldn't be a big deal for most people, but if you shoot in mixed or unusual lighting, it's worth finding a camera with custom WB. That said, the subject is nice and sharp, with plenty of detail captured. Colors are quite saturated, and there's no sign of noise or noise reduction.

The DSC-W130 handles close-up shooting a bit differently than previous Sony cameras. The full focal range is always available, so you can take a macro shot at any time. There is still a macro mode, which simply prioritizes close-up shooting, at the expense of focus speeds. Whichever mode you choose, you can be as little as 4 cm away from your subject.

If you like taking long exposures, then the DSC-W130 is not the camera for you. There's no way to manually set the shutter speed, so you'll need to use one of the scene modes. Even then, the slowest shutter speed is 2 seconds, not nearly long enough for our test scene to look good. The photo is too dark to judge noise or sharpness, but I can tell you that purple fringing isn't a problem.

Since I can't control the shutter speed on the W130, I was unable to perform the low light ISO test. I do, however, have the studio ISO test below.

There's moderate barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the DSC-W130's lens. You can see what this means in real world terms by looking at the building on the right in this photo. The chart also reveals some mild blurring in the corners, and I saw this in my regular photos as well. Vignetting (dark corners) was not a problem.

Compact cameras almost always have redeye problems, and the DSC-W130 is no exception. However, the camera offers a redeye removal tool in playback mode that does a decent job of removing this annoyance. See for yourself:

Even with the "black eye", this is still a major improvement over the original shot.

Here's that ISO test that I promised you. Its taken in our studio, and can be compared with other cameras that I've reviewed over the years. While the crops below give you a quick idea as to to the noise levels at each ISO sensitivity, it's always a good idea to view the full-size images. Here we go:

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

The ISO 100 and 200 crops are both very clean. No complaints there. At ISO 400, we pick up some noise reduction artifacting, but that shouldn't stop you from making midsize or maybe even large prints. We start to see actual grain-type noise at ISO 800, but there really isn't that much detail loss, which impressed me. You should still be able to make a small or midsize print at this setting! I can't be as complimentary about the ISO 1600 and 3200 shots, though. There's substantial detail loss, plus a noticeable drop in color saturation, so I'd avoid using these two sensitivities.

Overall, the DSC-W130's photo quality was very good. Photos were well-exposed, with colors that were quite saturated. Sharpness was just right, and purple fringing was at a minimum. Noise isn't a problem until the ISO gets pretty high, though you will see the effects of noise reduction at ISO 100. Noise reduction smears away fine details like hair, grass, and leaves, and this shot is a great example of that. Thankfully, it's not too bad on the W130, probably because the W130 is "only" an 8 Megapixel camera.

Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, printing a few photos if you can, and then decide if the W130's photo quality meets your expectations!

Movie Mode

The DSC-W130 has a pretty standard movie mode. The Fine mode lets you record video at 640 x 480, 30 frames/second, with sound until you hit the ten minute mark -- a restriction I don't recall on earlier models. A high speed memory card is required to use the fine quality movie mode.

Two other resolutions are available. The Standard mode also records at 640 x 480, but at a choppy 17 frames/second. There's also a 320 x 240 mode available, but the 8 fps frame rate will make it look like a stop-motion film.

As is usually the case, you cannot use the optical zoom (or the digital zoom, for that matter) while recording a video clip. The image stabilizer is available, however.

Movies are recorded using the MPEG-1 codec.

Here's the usual train station sample movie for you:

Click to play movie (12.7 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, MPEG format)
Can't view them? Download QuickTime

Playback Mode

The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 has a pretty elaborate playback mode. Basic features include DPOF print marking, image protection, slideshows, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll. The zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge a photo by as much as 8X, and then move around the enlarged area.

Setting up a slideshow

The slideshow feature is extra-fancy, with transitions and the background music. You can add your own background music via the Music Transfer software that I touched on back in the software section.

The thumbnail view on the W130 is a bit weird -- it only shows you six photos at a time, though you can see parts of the other ones. Thankfully, the camera loads the next screen of thumbnails almost instantly.

Images can be rotated, resized, and cropped right on the camera. There are also a number of special effects you can apply to photos, including unsharp mask, soft focus, partial color, fisheye lens, cross filter, radial blur, and "retro". In this same Retouch menu you'll also find the camera's redeye reduction tool -- and you'll probably be using it frequently.

By default, the camera doesn't show you any exposure information for the photo you've viewing. However, press "up" on the four-way controller, and you'll get the screen you see above, complete with histogram.

The W130 moves through photos at a pretty good clip. You'll wait for less than a second to see the next full resolution image.

How Does it Compare?

While it doesn't really stand out in any one area, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is still a good entry-level compact camera, and one which I can recommend to most folks. It offers very good photo quality, a 4X zoom lens, image stabilization, snappy performance, lots of point-and-shoot features, and excellent battery life. There are some downsides, including a low resolution LCD and a complete lack of manual controls, so if those bother you, you may want to consider something else.

The Cyber-shot DSC-W130 is a compact (but not tiny) camera made mostly of metal. Like many compact cameras these days, the W130 is offered in your choice of colors, as long as they're black, silver, or pink. Build quality was good in most areas, with the usual suspect -- the plastic door over the memory card/battery compartment -- being the lone exception. The controls are logically laid out, though they're a bit small for my big fingers. The W130 features a 4X zoom lens, with a wider-than-normal focal range of 32 - 128 mm. If you want to expand that range, Sony offers both wide and telephoto conversion lenses. The W130 features Sony's Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization system. This system effectively reduces blur in still photos, and it can smooth out your movies as well. On the back of the camera you'll find a 2.5" LCD display and what may be the world's smallest optical viewfinder (but hey, I'll take what I can get). The LCD resolution of just 115,000 leaves much to be desired, especially with 230,000 pixels being the standard these days. Both outdoor and low light visibility were good.

The DSC-W130 is 100% point-and-shoot, with no manual controls to be found (it could really use them for white balance and shutter speed). You will find numerous auto modes, including an "easy" mode, regular auto mode, and numerous scene modes. The Smile Shutter mode will sit there and wait until somebody in the frame smiles before taking a photo. You can select child or adult priority for Smile Shutter, and for Sony's excellent face detection system as well. One scene mode you might want to pass over is the high sensitivity mode, which boosts the ISO as high as 3200, which can result in some pretty noisy photos (hint: adjust the ISO manually). Other features on the DSC-W130 include numerous photo retouching tools (including unsharp mask and redeye removal), optional HD video output, and a VGA movie mode.

Camera performance was excellent. The DSC-W130 starts up in less than 1.2 seconds, which is pretty good for a camera with an extending lens. Focus delays were very brief, even at full telephoto, or in low light. Shutter lag wasn't a problem, and shot-to-shot delays were minimal. The W130's continuous shooting mode was also impressive, shooting ten photos in a row at 2 frames/second before slowing down to somewhere between 1 and 2 fps. Sony says that you can take up to 100 photos in a row, and I have no reason to doubt that claim. The camera's battery life was well above average, and its support for the USB 2.0 High Speed support means that you can transfer photos to your Mac or PC without much of a wait.

Photo quality was very good by compact camera standards. The W130 took well-exposed photos, with pleasing, vivid colors. Sharpness was just how I like it: not too sharp, not too soft. Purple fringing levels were on the low end of the spectrum. Noise isn't really a problem until ISO 800 and above, though some noise reduction artifacting can be seen starting at ISO 100, though it's fairly minor. Something that's a big problem on the W130 (and most cameras like it) is redeye -- though there's a tool in playback mode that can get rid of it for you.

There are a few other issues that I want to mention before wrapping things up. First, the DSC-W130's flash is pretty weak, so keep that in mind if you take a lot of flash photos. Second, the W130's user interface, especially that Home menu, leaves much to be desired. It's redundant, slow, and requires a lot of button-pressing to find what you want. While the camera's battery life is great, the included battery charger is very slow, taking 4.5 hours for a typical charge (Sony would be happy to sell you a faster one). Next, you won't be able to get to the memory card slot while the camera is on a tripod. The last two issues relate to the camera bundle: the full manual is only on the included CD-ROM, and the 15MB of built-in memory isn't much.

If you want a compact camera with a nice zoom range, image stabilization, very good photo quality and performance, and fun point-and-shoot features, then the DSC-W130 will do it, without breaking the bank. For those who shoot in unusual lighting, like taking long exposures, or take a lot of flash shots, then you may want to consider something else. If you're in the first group, then I can definitely recommend checking out the Cyber-shot DSC-W130.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality; ISO 800 still usable
  • 4X optical zoom lens with nice 32 - 128 mm zoom range
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Compact metal body comes in your choice of silver, black, or pink
  • Good outdoor and low light visibility on the 2.5" LCD display
  • Optical viewfinder (though it's tiny)
  • Snappy performance
  • Well-implemented face detection and Smile Shutter features
  • Elaborate playback mode includes redeye removal tool, special effects, and fancy slideshows
  • Support for conversion lenses
  • Battery life is well above average
  • USB 2.0 High Speed protocol supported

What I didn't care for:

  • Noise reduction smudges fine details, even at ISO 100 (though it's not too bad)
  • Redeye a big problem (but at least you can fix it)
  • Low resolution LCD
  • Weak flash
  • Clunky user interface (I'm talking to you, Home menu)
  • No manual controls
  • 10 minute movie clip limit
  • Flimsy plastic door over memory/battery compartment; can't access memory card while camera is on a tripod
  • Very slow battery charger included
  • Not much built-in memory; full manual only on CD-ROM

Some other ultra-compact cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot SD850 IS, Casio Exilim EX-Z200, Fuji FinePix Z100fd, GE E840s, Kodak EasyShare M893 IS, Nikon Coolpix S520, Olympus Stylus 840, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5, and the Pentax Optio M50.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the Cyber-shot DSC-W130 and its competitors before you buy. And I really mean it for this camera!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our photo gallery!

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If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation or for technical support.

Want another opinion?

You'll find another review of this camera at CNET.com.