Most helpful critical review
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Great specs, but user has no control over them.
on March 26, 2012
When I bought this camera, I was excited by the low price for what was a solid focal length/optical zoom bounds choices (the 35mm film equivalent is 30mm-110mm which takes you right from the edge of wide angle to the early early beginnings of telephoto. This would be much preferable to the many 5mm-25mm equivalent cameras which boast "5x optical zoom!", sure 5x but over a range size that's really limited to being useful for landscape and panoramic shots.) and also what was, for cameras of this price, a good maximum aperture (an f-stop of 2.7. A lower f-stop number means higher maximum aperture. A lower f-stop number means you can get more light into camera at once, meaning you can get the same light with a faster shot. This means you can capture action faster, and also capture indoors activity.
The 3" screen was icing on the cake. Mechanical Optical Image Stabilization put it above most Kodaks in the same price range. The sensor was only 2.3 (the digital sensor itself probably much smaller) but that's standard for anything less than a few hundred dollars.
Here's why I gave this two stars:
The camera allows you no control over anything, and it results in worse pictures. It doesn't allow you to control aperture. It doesn't (really) allow you to control focal length because while you get to optical zoom, there's forced automatic focal-length adjustment at time of shot: the designers at Sony have decided that you don't know what you want to focus on, so the camera can decide for you. While auto focal-length adjustment can sometimes be great (taking lots of family pictures in one setting.) in 9/10 scenarios when you're composing a shot or trying to take a picture that looks like what you want it to look like, it's terrible.
Please, Sony, I'm not even a professional, but I'd still like to decide how far out the camera's focus should be. Allow the auto-focus to be turned off, and allow more fine tuned adjustment of focal length and shutter speed.
That's the other thing, no control over shutter speed. All of these values are either decided by the camera, or maybe you can set a "scene" like "outdoors" and instead of tying directly to a shutter speed, aperture, focal length set of values, it instead merely changes the range of values that the camera will think about when deciding what your shot should look like, and its always a wide range.
And no control over aperture either. The 2.8 aperture was THE dealmaker for this camera for me, it means that I can take really good f3.3 photos (photo quality is much better at the f-stop right below the maximum aperture), but no matter what it added up to faster, brighter indoors shots. Nope. I have no control over that either. It's so frustrating, all this (relative to most consumer cameras) hardware, and sony decides that I'm only allowed to handle it with oven mitts. What's worse is that the camera half the time picks the worst value imaginable. Evening, indoors, natural light? Oh, well, a really low level of exposure of F5.0 would be great for that, right? And the image comes out all muddy.
The camera's biggest problem: Most good cameras (even consumer grade, near $100 range cameras) allow you to choose what format to save your photos in (a "data lossless" format like PNG or TIFF where the file size is much larger, but all the data the sensor receives is kept, or a "lossy" format like JPG where a lot of data is dropped to save space, and the image stays the same size but becomes lower image quality). The w560 decides that you always always want JPG (it's so helpful) and not only that, you care far far more about space saved than about taking good photos. The camera calibrates the compression for saving space far more than for image quality.
For example: The 16 megapixel color photos I've taken so far have all came out as JPGs of about 4 MB size. A color JPG at 16 MB will never fit into 4 MB unless you've dropped a huge amount of the data. At that point you can zoom in and all the pixels are all blocky, because essentially what you're working with is the data equivalent of a 8 MP photo scaled up to 16 MP size. But unlike an 8MP photo, you have all these visual artifacts (strange, jaggedy shapes or color modifications caused by the heavy compression), Good luck making a really nice print that's larger than a postcard with these. And on an 8.5 x 11 you might get a not bad print, but go any larger and one of the major problems with this camera, forced very lossy compression become obvious.
This camera is a pile of good hardware straitjacketed in the mentality of the $40 camera you bought at CVS. If you buy a $40 camera at CVS you don't care about picture quality, you have no intention of controlling how it comes out. You just want to point, shoot, click and just have some photo, any photo, to remember the moment by. The people pay $120 for a camera do so because they want to be able to make their pictures look nice. They need to be able to use the tools to do that, rather than crossing their fingers and hoping each time the camera sees fit to use the options for them.