We found that the differences between shots taken in Superior Auto Adjustment mode and regular auto adjustment mode on the Sony WX5 were quite subtle. If anything the Superior mode has the more digitally 'processed' look of the two. Also, because detail is maintained in both shadows and highlights in Superior mode and shoehorned into the same image, the overall result can appear a bit flat and lacking in contrast. For us then, regular 'intelligent auto adjustment' often produced more natural looking results that were, in fact, truer to the scene at the time.
As regards video capture, as well as being pleased to find HDMI output on such a diminutive camera, we were also pleased to find that the optical zoom can be adjusted mid recording, and that any mechanical noise as it makes its adjustments is so quiet as to be almost unnoticeable. Add to this the ability to record stereo sound at the touch of a button, and as long as you've got an up to date PC that can handle the AVCHD files the WX5 produces, it's an able tool for those who just want to grab the odd 'movie' clip occasionally.
Although images would preferably be slightly sharper, the naturalistic/slightly warm colour tones that the WX5 delivered can be adjusted in Photoshop to produce a result fairly close to what we desired - although depending on which mode we were using they were occasionally washed out and flat.
Praise goes to Sony for at least trying to push the envelope of the kind of quality that can be achieved with a humble point and shoot compact. Even if the familiar pitfalls of all digital cameras - such as pixel fringing and fall off of focus towards the corners at maximum wide angle setting - still make an appearance in our test shots here, and we'd recommend sticking to ISO400 or lower if you want clean images. Although even the top whack ISO3200 setting is clearer and more defined than most.
The WX5 is not perfect, but at this price at least it's perfectly acceptable. Though it didn't set our increasingly small world alight, we're happy to report that there's more to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 than just a pretty fascia. It's class act, offering most of the latest must-haves (or at least from 2010's vantage point) in a package that's definitely pocket friendly.
As we've noted, if it's the 3D aspect that's drawing you in, the Fuji W3 has a lot more wow factor and delivers 'true' stereoscopic images rather than software enhanced versions that show you whether they're working before you press the shutter release. If instead it's the Exmor R sensor and promise of DSLR-style imagery, well, don't believe the hype. A high performance compact such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 or Samsung EX1 would be a better bet for the photo enthusiast who values pocket-sized portability as much as quality.
The WX5 delivers plenty of bang for a modest buck, so in that respect any potential purchaser will be sure to find some aspect of its performance to clasp to their bosom, if they can just ignore the slightly more gimmicky aspects. Manage that and the WX5 is one of those cameras with which you can't go far wrong.