Pros: Excellent output; great IS system; some manual controls; great looks.
Cons: Proprietary card format; manual aperture can be changed by full f-stops only.
Of all the cameras here, the Cyber-shot W300 offers the best balance of size, performance and ease-of-use – and to us, it’s the best-looking to boot. It’s not without flaws, but overall it’s a cracking little camera.
Joint-second smallest in this group test (alongside Fujifilm’s FinePix F50fd), the W300 has a unique dark grey styling with black and silver flash that’s going to garner envious stares from your colleagues and friends.
On the back are a zoom rocker, a mode wheel, a D-pad and four buttons. The forward-facing rockers used on all the other cameras here are generally better, allowing precise control – but seeing as the rockers on the W300 rivals have limited motion, Sony’s system is no better or worse.
Two buttons are hard to get to with your right hand, but they’re largely superfluous to Digital Arts readers: the Home button offers a slimmed-down menu, while the slideshow button – with soundtrack – isn’t exactly an unmissable feature.
The W300’s output was the second best here, beaten only by Nikon’s Coolpix P5100, which produced slightly sharper and more accurate images – but the W300 is neither sluggish nor bulky. The W300’s 13.6 megapixel sensor produces detailed images and the SuperSteadyShot image-stabilization system is excellent.
Manual controls help the W300 capture great images, though they lack the scope of the P5100. There are no aperture- or shutter-priority modes. There’s a full manual mode with controls over both, though you can only change the aperture in full f-stops. Hopefully Sony will upgrade the firmware to allow you to increase the aperture by fractions of stops, as Nikon did with the P5100.
One small niggle is that the W300 doesn’t use SD Card media – and Sony’s own Memory Stick Duo cards cost much more than SD.
Lens zoom: 3x
Lens (35mm equivalent): 35-155mm f/2.8-5.5
Image Stabilization Type: Lens shift
Effective resolution: 13.6 megapixels
Max image size: 4,224-x-3,168
Autofocus modes: 9-point/centre/Face Select and Track
Face detection: Yes
ISO Range: ISO 80-3200
ISO 3200 mode max mp: 13.2mp (3mp for ISO 6400)
Shutter range: 1/4-1/1,200 second
Exposure modes: Auto, manual, 12 scene modes
Macro mode (minimum focusing distance): 5cm
Continuous shooting speed (at full res): 2fps (max 100 images)
LCD size and resolution: 2.7-inch, 230,000 pixel
Optical viewfinder: Yes
Storage media: Memory Stick Duo/Pro
Internal memory: 15MB
Quoted battery life: 300 shots
Colour options: Black
Dimensions (W-x-H-x-D): 94-x-59-x-27mm
Weight (body only): 156g