The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W530 14.1 MP Digital Camera packs quite a lot into a small, lightweight package at an affordable price. Not too many years ago, even high-end digital single lens reflex (dSLR) cameras only boasted 12.1 MP at pricing that was well over $ 1,000 but the DSC-W530 offers higher-resolution in an affordable package that is only 5.6 by 2 by 6.1 inches and that weighs a pound.
It is true the dSLRs do offer far more flexibility and are now offering up to 18MP resolution, however, the DSC-W530 is very capable “point-and-shoot” camera in its own right, offering a large 2.7-inch LCD viewer with which one can easily frame shots, as well as Carl Zeiss-Tessar optics that are among the best on the market. The DSC-W530 is a wide-angle camera that allows one to take extra-wide closeups and thanks to the technology built into the camera the image appears quite normal (some extra wide angle lenses have been known to show spherical rounding where the far images of an image are distorted, however, that is not the case here). Images as close as half-an-inch from the lens are possible, as well as distant photos thanks to the zoom ability of the 26 mm lens.
Sony uses its proprietary processor as the engine for its 4X zoom camera. The processor features algorithms that test lighting, background lighting, contrast – the whole range of image variables – so that images that are taken appear natural. In Auto Mode, for example, the DSC-W530 tests a whole range of lighting variables and then provides the correct amount of fill light from its built-in autostrobe.
In Sweep Mode, one can hold the shutter button down and sweep through 268 degrees of arc to provide a seamless panoramic view. That one can produce a rock-steady image, while sweeping across a panorama is due to Sony’s autostabilizing Steady Shot image stabilization. The DSC-W530 is capable of produce A3+ or 13 by 19 images.
Sony’s proprietary processor does all of the work for you in iAuto or Intelligent Auto Mode as the software checks and averages the overall lighting and skin tones to deliver natural images. The processor also enables the DSC-W530 to “remember” up to eight facial images and recognize those faces so that imaging for those individuals is optimized. This features also works with the photographer so that in Self-Portrait Mode after the timer is set, the camera waits until it recognizes the photographer’s image is in frame and then the countdown timer is tripped. In this mode, one is never left out of family shots again.
Another technology built into the entire Sony camera line is the Smile Shutter mode. Working in coordination with their auto-sensitivity mode, the camera waits, using a Soft Shutter feature, until it recognizes that a tot or young child is smiling and the image is taken. This mode can be detuned a bit for adults to enhance naturally smiles in any image. Working with this mode, is Anti-Blink technology. In this mode, the processor actually takes two images when the strobe is used so that the inevitable camera squint is eliminated and the person appears naturally. (Normally, a person will blink automatically when an autostrobe is fired and many lower-priced cameras fail to allow for this so that you end up with an image of person with squinting eyes. Anti-Blink takes two shots, the first with the strobe firing and the second almost immediately afterward, usually within the framework where a person opens his or her eyes normally.
In Natural (Fill) Flash mode, the processor tests the background shadows and highlights and determines the correct amount of fill light that is needed for an image to appear normal. This means that one will see the strobe firing even on a bright day as it fills in darker shadowed areas.
The DSC-W530 works over a wide range of lighting conditions as it will provide auto settings from ISO 100 to 3200 (for the F-stop photographer, F-100 to F-3200). There are seven ISO ranges, ISO 100, 125, 200,l 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. This gives one the ability to handhold an image in even low-light conditions.
All of the software modes work together. For example, Digital Range Optimizing analyzes background lighting and contrast modes while Intelligent Scene Recognition takes 1/30th of a second to cycle through eight modes that include Backlight, Backlight Protrait, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Twilight Portrait with tripod, Portrait, Landscape and Macro (for closeups) to provide a photographer with a natural-looking image. This extends to Auto and Advanced modes. In Auto Mode, the DSC-W530 takes one image, while in Advanced mode, it shoots an extra image to give one a choice of shot clarity.
The DSC-W530 is also capable of taking 480 pixel, 30 frame-per-second videography. This is the native resolution of VGA (640 by 400) and this interfaces easily, through the proper USB 2.0 adapter cord to a PC, so that one can upload the video to the PC for editing with Sony’s Picture Motion Browser Software V 5.3. A portable version allows direct interface to a PC that, if it has Internet access, can upload images directly to such services as Photobucket.
Please note that one can expand memory only to 4 GB though Sony’s proprietary memory cards, which is certainly something of which one should take note, as is its limited amount of storage available (4GB).
Still, in a camera capable of 14.1 MP imagery through its CCD lens and bright LCD back that allows precise composition and framing, the DSC-W530 is a hard device to pass up.
Roberto Sedycias works as an IT consultant for ecommUS