Sony W270 - a stylish compact camera with 28mm wide angle lens and 720p HD movie mode. Should the W270 be the HD compact to find itself onto your wishlist? The What Digital Camera Sony Cyber-shot W270 review investigates...
Sony W270 review – Features
The Sony W270 doesn’t have a huge features list, though this will be irrelevant for those looking to pick up a camera for those everyday point and shoot situations. With features such as Super SteadyShot – Sony’s branded version of image stabilisation – you can rest assured that the technology is in the bag to help you get the best shot each time. An Advanced Dual shot mode even snaps a scene twice in difficult lighting conditions so you can chose the best one. The W270’s 12.1MP sensor means your files will be quite large, quite possibly even bigger than you may require for small enlargements, but this can be lowered in the W270’s menu options should you wish to save space.
Modes aren’t overburdening either, with the W270 offering intelligent Auto, Easy shot, Program Auto and a 720p 30 frames per second movie mode, making up the majority of all you’ll need to shoot; though a full manual mode does lack here. Face detection and a quick reference smile detection button – that waits for your subjects to smile before firing the shutter – also feature for optimum portrait shots.
Sony W270 review – Design
A compact camera that can sit snugly in a pocket without causing too much grunt to bear is a good starting point when looking for a svelte little snapper to carry around – the Sony Cyber-shot W270 succeeds on this front, with its small size and low weight having an immediacy about it that will see you happily carry it everywhere.
The Sony W270 keeps most of the controls on the back of the camera, with a thumbwheel to the right to select shooting mode and a d-pad below to toggle flash, macro, display and timer on or off. Zooming from wide to tele via the W/T button is conveniently located on the back of the camera too, which is easily reachable with a thumb when your finger is poised over the shutter button. Just to the right of the shutter there’s also a Smile Detection button – it’s well placed to quickly toggle this on or off without faffing around in menus, plus it’s sat far enough away from the shutter to not cause confusion. Overall the W270 design is simple, neat and well laid out.
Sony W270 review – Performance
The Sony W270 has a 5x optical zoom, meaning wide angle 28mm through to mid-range 140mm shots are possible. The wide angle isn’t a market leader, but 28mm is still notably wide. Those looking for a superzoom telephoto should look elsewhere, as 5x is more appropriate for standard portraits or a good range of shots.
The Sony W270 performs well in many conditions. From bright sunlight to darker conditions the images maintained a good balance of exposure, with a realistic and well-balanced dynamic range throughout. Shooting blue skies or dark bars, flashing friends in the pub or waiting for the Smile Shutter to take effect, the W270 responded well to changes.
Macro mode – whilst not as good as some other closer-to-lens competitors – operated at a respectable hand’s distance from the lens. This meant shallow depth of field shots or relative close-ups were possible and, whilst less creative than some of the super close-up macros out there, provided a useful performance.
Perhaps one of few disappointments is the W270’s limited battery life, which performed below its quoted life from a full charge.
Image Quality & Value For Money
Sony W270 review – Image Quality
The Sony W270 becomes somewhat undone with its image quality. The usual ‘small sensor, masses of megapixels’ trait is at work here – with so many megapixels in such a small sensor area it becomes hard for enough light to ‘cleanly’ render an image. The result is that the W270’s images are particularly noisy at higher ISO sensitivities, often showing a ‘smeary’ lack of detail too. At lower ISO settings there’s still a presence of noise – more than many competitors – though this actually looks more akin to film-like noise than anything else.
In the real world, and despite the 12.1 megapixels provided, the W270 isn’t the ideal compact for making enlargements to your images. Of course, it’s more likely than not that snaps of friends and days out will only make their way as far as the internet or small prints. This being the case the quality is more than fine, if anything the 12MP count becomes overkill – dropping down to 8 or 5MP will allow hundreds more images to fit on an average-capacity Memory Stick Duo.
The W270 tackles low lighting fairly well however, as the image quality doesn’t particularly deteriorate beyond that of a standard daylight shot. Whilst there are some notable jpeg artifacts, the colour balance, wide dynamic range and metering makes for decent images from shadow to highlights. A lot of compact cameras struggle to focus, display proper blacks or a realistic dynamic range – but the W270, despite its already limited image quality, performed well here.
Sony W270 review – Value For Money
Many would consider Sony a premium brand that carries ‘premium prices’. Often that can mean looking to buy a product at considerable expense. Not so much the case with the W270, as the RRP of £230 can be slashed to abound £200 after some shopping around – it’s a fair price for a compact, not least a Sony compact.
The W270 also comes in four colours, with the red an example of a well-finished camera that’s a successful merger of style and function. Line the W270 up against some of the more brick-like compacts on the market and it looks clean and stylishly edgy.
The Sony W270 is a great little camera that’s dinky enough to slip into a pocket and carry around anywhere. Its features list – whilst small – cover the main lists of basics for your basic everyday shooting; ideal for those not looking for overburdening scene modes or the complexities of manual options. The W270 does have its shortcomings however – the image quality is far from great; the LCD quality lacks; battery life is so-so; Sony’s Memory Stick Duo is the only type of memory accepted (unlike SD cards which are more commonly used across formats). On the upside the addition of 720p video, SteadyShot optical stabilisation, Advanced Dual Shot mode, respectable low-light performance and an underlying simplicity in use get the thumbs up. Make no bones about it, the Sony W270 is a to the point, well made, point and shoot compact camera that delivers very much on that front, but will leave users looking for more advanced options in the dark.