The camera’s external hardware also lives up to the camera’s price bracket. The lens bears Sony’s G branding, found on its high-end DSLR lenses, and has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.4 – f/5.9. The LCD monitor is also very good; clear, sharp and bright with a good anti-glare coating. The angle of view is very good from the top, right and left, but annoyingly it inverts at a relatively shallow angle when viewed from below.
The key to the WX1’s features is its combination of a high-speed 10.2-megapixel EXMOR CMOS sensor and Sony’s powerful Bionz processor. This allows it to shoot full-frame images at a very fast 10 frames a second. The main feature this empowers is the Sweep Panorama mode. This is something which is currently unique to Sony and has appeared on a couple of previous models, but knowing the nature of the camera industry I’m fairly sure most of the competition’s cameras will have something similar by this time next year. Sweep Panorama replaces the stitched panorama assist that has been a standard feature of most digital cameras for years. To shoot a panoramic shot one simply presses and hold the shutter button while sweeping the camera across the scene. The camera takes a series of high-speed overlapping shots and automatically stitches them together on the fly to produce a single ultra-wide panoramic shot.
Two other benefits of the high-speed capture technology are the Anti Motion Blur and Handheld Twilight modes, which are basically both the same thing. In these modes the camera takes a series of six high-speed shots, and then combines them into one low-noise image with less blur. It does work surprisingly well, producing usable images in very low light situations, although the final image quality isn’t anything too amazing. To further reduce blur the WX1 has Sony’s excellent optical image stabilisation system.
Other features include HD video shooting at 1280 x 720 resolution and 30 frames a second, with mono audio. Optical zoom can be used while recording, and the silent zoom motor is inaudible on the soundtrack. The video and audio quality are very good, recorded in MPEG format.