The WX1’s overall performance is excellent. It starts up and is ready to shoot in approximately 1.7 seconds, which is very quick. In single-shot mode it can maintain a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.5 seconds, which is also nice and fast.. There are three continuous shooting modes capturing bursts of 10 frames and 2fps, 5ps, 10fps respectively, and an auto bracketing mode.
The autofocus system is also exceptionally good. It has a nine-point AF system, with multi-point, centre-weighted and centre-point modes. It is one of the fastest AF systems I’ve seen on a compact camera, focusing in a fraction of a second in good light. In lower light and at longer zoom ranges it does slow down appreciably but it does focus reliably. The AF assist lamp is very bright and the camera will focus accurately in total darkness at a range of several metres.
When one spends over £200 on a compact camera one expects good image quality, and the WX1 certainly delivers. The Sony G lens provides good frame-wide sharpness with no chromatic aberration, although it does exhibit some barrel distortion at wide angle. Colour reproduction is bright and natural with good detail in saturated areas, and dynamic range is also very good, thanks to the larger pixels and lower density of the 10.2MP EXMOR sensor. The WX1 has Sony’s D-Range Optimiser, still the best of the contrast booster systems now commonly found in high-res compacts, and this helps to dramatically improve shadow detail.
Noise control has previously been a problem for some Sony cameras, but the WX1 is very good, producing excellent image quality at 200 ISO, only a smattering of light noise at 400ISO and perfectly usable images at 800 ISO. 1600 and 3200 ISO are available in the High ISO scene mode, however at these settings picture quality is not so good, so they’re best avoided.
The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX1 is exactly what a luxury ultra-compact should be; a tiny techno-toy crammed with all the latests gadgets and gizmos, with fast performance, plenty of clever features and decent picture quality to match. It may look a bit dull but it is very well made, and despite the price it’s actually not bad value.