updated 08:30 am EST, Mon February 25, 2008
Sony W300 and H50
Sony today broke from the normal cycle of camera updates by releasing two updates to its Cyber-shot lineup. The W300 is the first truly compact point-and-shoot to cross the 12-megapixel barrier and produces 13.6 megapixels without extra bulk. The extra depth also provides headroom for high-speed shooting: by dropping to three megapixels, the camera can shoot at five frames per second for an extended period. Hardware image stabilization is built-in but can also be backed by a special ISO 6400 sensitivity mode that eliminates blur at the expense of noise.
The camera is limited to a 3X optical zoom lens but also sports face and smile detection as well as an automatic scene detection mode that adjusts color balance. Sony plans to ship the camera in May at a price of $350.
Semi-professional customers also get an upgrade through the Cyber-shot H50. One of the first high-zoom cameras to split the difference between 8- and 10-megapixel sensors, the H50 generates a 9.1-megapixel image with an unusually high 15X zoom. It also stands as one of the rare cameras in the class with a powerful flash that (with ISO 3200) can properly illuminate subjects as far as 55 feet away. Optical stabilization and a dynamic range optimizer help return detail to the shots, particularly for otherwise blown-out highlights and hidden shadows. Like the W300, the H50 should ship in May but will be priced slightly higher at $400.