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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380 - Features and Design

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380 front angle

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

The small size of the camera and its relatively large monitor screen mean that there isn't a lot of room on the back for the controls. The six-position mode dial is very small, but it has both a splined edge and a raised knob, which makes it easy to turn despite its size. The buttons are a bit small and fiddly, but not obstructively so. They are at least clearly labelled and operate with a nice positive feel.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380 back

The W380 is an all-auto point-and-shoot camera so it doesn’t offer too much in the way of direct creative control. The main shooting mode is Intelligent Auto, in which optical image stabilisation, face detection, red-eye correction, auto white balance and ISO, dynamic range optimisation and automatic scene recognition are all activated, and there aren't many shooting situations which the camera can’t cope with on its own. All the user has to do is press the shutter button.

The menu system is similarly simple, with a maximum of only 10 entries in the main shooting section (and even less in iAuto and Easy Auto modes) laid out in a simple list, but it is very clear and easy to use, with brief explanatory notes for each selection. There are no options for image adjustment or tone control, but it does include metering mode, AF mode and Sony's very effective Dynamic Range Optimiser, the original and still the best of the contrast boosting functions.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380 side

The W380 has Sony's Sweep Panorama feature, which can capture wide panoramic shots by simply panning the camera across the scene while holding the shutter button. The camera automatically stitches together a rapid sequence of images into one long panoramic shot. It's great for landscape snaps, and has already been copied by other manufacturers.

The W380 can record HD video at 1280 x 720 resolution at 30fps, with full optical zoom and image stabilisation. The zoom motor is virtually silent and can barely be heard on the soundtrack. Recording time is limited only by memory card capacity.

ruthless

July 23, 2010, 3:00 pm

Excellent review as ever Cliff. I've been looking for a compact around that price that performs really well in low-light conditions. Seems like this could be it.

Jazzyboy

July 23, 2010, 4:42 pm

This camera was also reviewed earlier this year by Mark Goldstein on another site. According to him IQ is disappointing and he posted sample pictures to prove his point.


These pictures were shot mostly under a grey sky. So that may be the difference; or is it sample variaton?

the near side

July 23, 2010, 5:54 pm

Thanks for yet another review. I'm thinking of buying a Sony Wx1 or W380. A modest price difference between these two cameras is not important to me. What are the relative strengths and weaknesses?





Thanks for all the info and entertainment!

cliche

July 23, 2010, 6:20 pm

@ruthless - my Fuju F31FD is remarkable is low light. Old now but is still a legend in photo circles for low light

FordPrefect

July 23, 2010, 6:23 pm

The reviewer on Pocket-lint complained that the camera has a plastic case and poor build quality as well as poor video quality and excessive noise due to the 14.1 mega-pixel sensor. Was he even looking at the same camera? Picture noise is something that all reviewers seem to complain about as manufacturers cram more pixels into their sensors. Is the Sony better or worse than the competition as this camera might finally tempt me into replacing my ageing Fuji.

Steve 12

July 23, 2010, 8:37 pm

@FordPrefect


Their review is indeed very different, but their link to purchase the camera (for an amazing £119.99) is actually the W320. So maybe they are reviewing that one with the wrong photo set ? Looking at the sony website does not help in identifying whether the W320 is plastic or not though

snap happy 1

July 25, 2010, 2:01 am

The main difference between the WX1 and W380 is in the sensor. The WX1 has a backlit sensor (Exmor R CMOS) which should help the camera perform better in lowlight. Other features on the WX1 like Handheld Twilight and Anti Motion Blur are also meant to give lower noise and sharper images in low light conditions. Also, the WX1 has a brighter lens at F2.4, which also should help in low light photography.

Money

July 25, 2010, 3:51 am

Great review Cliff, I am usually be the one that criticised Sony for producing inferior cameras, but this time, I think Sony is on the right track.


Especialy the G-Lens, it is an amazing quality glass that produces excellent images; however the sensor is still too small for a 14 megapixel camera, as result in some compression artifacts.


Nevertheless, it is a good effort from Sony.





If Sony decided to put a 1/1.6 sensor on a similar camera with metal body, and supports RAW file format - it would be an awsome combination, and it may even rivals Panasonic LX3.

noham

July 27, 2010, 9:03 pm

I have the same question regarding the wx1 vs 380 - saw people saying wx1 got issues with flash at 24mm - do you guys confirm? also trusted reveiw seems to say picture quality of wx1 is inferior to 380 - however wx1 features looks better (cmos and other options) - any thoughts ?

snap happy 1

August 6, 2010, 5:22 pm

My preference is WX1 as I think the backlit sensor helps in low light photography. If you're not in a hurry to purchase, Sony is about to launch the WX5 in September, which is the newer version of WX1.

Cake600

September 24, 2011, 12:18 am

If you get a good price on the W380 take it. A phenomenol camera the size of a bank card that in good daylight not only matches the LX5 and S95 in many areas but can go head to head with APS dSLRs for sheer detail capturing power. The f2.4 24mm wide angle lens is superb - with only a tad of softness at the corners. Super fast focussing in any light (or not light even) but with a slow shot-to-shot time which may be a limiting factor for some. I shoot with the 16:9 format which gives 11 megapixel resolution - files that make terrific 14" wide prints and even look pretty good at 19". The build quality is top drawer and the sleek design is smart. All in all something quite amazing in a form factor this small.

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