Available in smart-looking brushed silver or sophisticated matt black incarnations, the pocket-sized 12.2-effective megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 was much trumpeted on its release in late 2010 for being one of only two Cyber-shots to feature Sony's attention-grabbing 3D Sweep Panorama mode. This merges up to 100 separate images captured in a rapid fire 'sweep' of the camera into one elongated image.
But, in practice, though you can shoot with 3D in mind, for which the camera generates an MPO image file (as opposed to a JPEG in 2D mode), you can't get the stereoscopic effect on the actual camera screen like you can with the 'true 3D' Fujifilm Finepix W3. You'll need a 3D TV set proper to get the benefit; the alternative, if you don't, being to shoot a 2D version of the same scene, of course. Both options are presented on the halfpenny sized shooting mode wheel at the WX5's rear. The results are both fun and effective, although we wouldn't recommend you buy the camera for this software-enhanced feature alone.
This being a Sony camera you can expect to pay a slight premium. The cheapest online deals don't vary much from what it will cost you in your local Sony centre - £229 at the time of writing (£100 cheaper than the twin lens and sensor-incorporating Fuji W3). At that price it actually feels very fair value, resting solidly in the palm, despite being marginally shorter in width than a business card. It's pretty much direct competition for Casio's Exilim EX-ZR10, with which it shares a very similar design aesthetic and headline resolution, although overall the Sony is smaller by about half an inch in width. Official proportions are 91.7mm x 51.9mm x 21.5mm and the body-only weight is just 130g.
Among the WX5's other plus points are that solid-feel metal body, a 5x optical zoom - equivalent to 24-120mm in 35mm film terms - to pull distant subjects closer, a high 460,800-dot resolution 2.8-inch LCD, AF tracking, and 10 frames per second burst shooting (with dedicated drive mode button), plus a bright f/2.4 lens. It also features the increasingly ubiquitous camcorder-style one-touch video record button at the back for the near instantaneous capture of Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels clips, no matter which alternative stills mode might be selected on its separate shooting mode dial at the time.