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Four new Sony Cyber-shot W-series compacts announced
by David Rasnake -  1/20/2008

Sony announced today its intention to completely revamp its Cyber-Shot W series of compact cameras. Four new models – the W120, W120, W130, W150, and W170 – provide replacements for the popular Cyber-shot W55, W80, and W90, and add one new unit to Sony's broad range of compact digicams.

In the release, Sony also announced the culmination of several technological developments impacting some or all W-series models. Sony's Smile Shutter system, which prevents the camera from firing until subjects are smiling, has been upgraded to include a "child/adult priority" function. Users can now specify if they'd like the system to give priority to making sure either children or adults are smiling in a particular shot; improved face detection technology allows the camera to distinguish between the two.

A more advanced Dynamic Range Optimizer descended from the Alpha DSLR series claims to offer improvements in equalizing high-contrast shots. Intelligent Scene Detection (iSCN) is able to automatically detect six types of shooting situations, including shots with backlighting issues, and adjust accordingly. The addition of an Easy Shooting mode, which uses common-language explanations for shooting options and automatically controls most of the camera's settings, offers improvements on a conventional auto mode for novice users.

Other series improvements and features include changes to the Macro AF system that allow the camera's macro range to be always enabled with slowing down other auto-focus functions, more carefully thought out folder sorting (including a "Favorites" option) and slide show functions, and the ability to search through all photos on the camera for a paricular face or faces. New higher-end W-series cameras will also allow users to apply unsharp mask image sharpening in-camera, potentially eliminating the need for yet another post-processing task.

Finally, if these improvements don't put a smile on your face, a Happy Face Retouch feature on the W150 and W170 promises to – in a very literal way. The in-camera after-effect skews the image slightly around selected subjects mouths to make them appear to be smiling. Honestly, the idea seems gimmicky at worst, and just plain weird at best, and Sony's visual demonstration using a surly mustached man (whose facial hair took on a demonic upward tilt after the effect was applied) was perhaps poorly chosen. While most of the planned W-series improvements seem well chosen, this one may simply go too far, but who's to say how it will be received by the photo shooting public.

Sony reveals W55 replacement in W120

The Cyber-shot DSC-W120 provides a successor to Sony's popular W55, the current ground floor model of the W series. The 7.2 megapixel, 4x zoom camera carries over much of the technology developed for Sony's higher grade models, including improved Smile Shutter, the Easy Shooting mode, and child/adult face detection features. Powered by Sony's Bionz engine, the W120 also features the standard first-generation D-Range Optimizer and dual image stabilization via a combination of Sony's Super SteadyShot optical system and high-sensitivity shooting to ISO 3200.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120

 

As with previous W-series models, the W120 retains an eye-level optical viewfinder. The LCD is a 2.5-inch, 115K-pixel version.

The W120, which comes in several stylish colors including blue and pink, should start showing up in March, for a suggested retail price of $199.

W130 adds new step-up offering

Sharing most of its physical specs with the W120, the 8.1 megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W130 offers a resolution upgrade and a slightly more advanced set of features. The new-to-the-lineup W130 shares the W120's 4x optical zoom and 2.5-inch LCD.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W130

 

As with its sibling, the W130 includes the improve Smile Shutter system, Easy Shooting mode, and dual image stabilization. The step-up model also adds in-camera unsharp mask retouching.

The W130 is expected to go on sale in February for around $229.

W150, W170 provide high-spec replacements for W80, W90

The 8.1 megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W150 and functionally identical 10.1 megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W170 are slated to replace two of Sony's most popular models, the mid-level W80 and W90. The duo of new cameras are built around a 5x Carl Zeiss optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch, 230K-pixel LCD.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150


The basic look for both cameras carries over many visual elements from the models they replace, with larger, more centrally located zooms and more streamlined bodies. By way of features, the W150 and W170 both bring the full technological power that Sony has added to the W series: Easy Shooting mode, improved Smile Shutter, child/adult face detection, advanced D-Range Optimizer, iSCN, and Super SteadyShot IS.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170

 

Playback options show lots of new tech as well, with unsharp mask retouching, a favorites function, new slide show options, and the aforementioned face search capability rounding out the package. Both models also include Happy Face Retouch functionality as well.

Look for both models on store shelves in April. The W150 is slated to retail at $249, with the W170 suggested at $299.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120/W130 specifications:

Sensor

7.2 megapixel, 1/2.5" Super HAD CCD (W120); 8.1 megapixel, 1/2.5" Super HAD CCD (W130)

Zoom4x (32-128mm) Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom, f/2.8-f/5.8
LCD/Viewfinder2.5", 115K-pixel TFT LCD; optical viewfinder
SensitivityISO 100-3200
Shutter Speed60-1/1600 seconds
Shooting ModesAuto, Easy Shooting, Program, Movie, High Sensitivity, Scene
Scene PresetsSoft Snap, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Twilight, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Smile Shutter
White Balance SettingsAuto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Flash
Metering ModesMulti, Center, Spot
Focus ModesMulti AF, Center AF, Spot AF, five approximate distance AF modes, Macro
Drive ModesNormal, Burst
Flash ModesAuto, Forced On, Slow Synchro, Forced Off
Self Timer Settings
10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
Memory FormatsMemory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo
Internal Memory
15 MB
File FormatsJPEG, MPEG
Max. Image Size3,072 x 2,304 (W120), 3,264 x 2,448 (W130)
Max. Video Size
640x480, 30 fps
Zoom During Video No
BatteryRechargeable 960 mAh lithium-ion
ConnectionsUSB 2.0, AV output, DC input
Additional FeaturesD-Range Optimizer, Red-Eye Reduction, Super SteadyShot IS, Auto Macro, Easy Shooting Mode, Improved Smile Shutter, Child/Adult Face Detection, Unsharp Mask (W130 only)

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150/W170 specifications:

Sensor

8.1 megapixel, 1/2.5" Super HAD CCD (W150); 10.1 megapixel, 1/2.3" Super HAD CCD (W170)

Zoom5x (28-140mm) Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom, f/3.3-f/5.2
LCD/Viewfinder2.7", 230K-pixel TFT LCD; optical viewfinder
SensitivityISO 80-3200
Shutter Speed60-1/1600 seconds
Shooting ModesAuto, Easy Shooting, Program, Movie, High Sensitivity, Scene
Scene PresetsSoft Snap, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Twilight, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Smile Shutter, Underwater
White Balance SettingsAuto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Flash, Underwater
Metering ModesMulti, Center, Spot
Focus ModesMulti AF, Center AF, Spot AF, five approximate distance AF modes, Macro
Drive ModesNormal, Burst
Flash ModesAuto, Forced On, Slow Synchro, Forced Off
Self Timer Settings
10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
Memory FormatsMemory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo
Internal Memory
15 MB
File FormatsJPEG, MPEG
Max. Image Size3,264 x 2,448 (W150), 3,648 x 2,736 (W170)
Max. Video Size
640x480, 30 fps
Zoom During Video No
BatteryRechargeable 960 mAh lithium-ion
ConnectionsUSB 2.0, AV output, DC input
Additional FeaturesAdvanced D-Range Optimizer, Super SteadyShot IS, Red-Eye Reduction, Child/Adult Face Detection, Unsharp Mask, Happy Face Retouch, New Slide Show, Intelligent Scene Recognition, Auto Macro, Easy Shooting Mode, Improved Smile Shutter, Favorites, Face Search