The Bottom Line
With all of the features being added to new beginner-level digital cameras, it sometimes can be easy to lose track of the most important feature -- image quality. After all, your digital camera can have all of the coolest features, but if it can't create a sharp, high-quality image, the extra features are basically worthless.
My Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 review shows that Sony did not forget that important feature: The DSC-W290 creates outstanding images. Even then, Sony did not forget to add plenty of cool features, including 12.1 megapixels of resolution, a sharp 3.0-inch LCD, and good performance.
- Image quality is very good
- Very easy to use with few buttons
- Large LCD is easy to see in bright sunlight
- Continuous-shot performance is very good
- Multiple body colors are available
- Shutter lag can be a minor problem, especially in low light
- Some focus problems on close-up subjects
- Design is pretty basic
- MSRP could be a little lower - shop around
- Resolution: 12.1 megapixels
- Optical zoom: 5X (28-140mm equivalent)
- LCD: 3.0-inch, 230,400 pixels
- Maximum image size: 4000 x 3000 pixels
- Battery: Li-ion (rechargable)
- Dimensions: 3.88 x 2.38 x 0.91 inches
- Weight: 6.1 ounces (with battery and memory card)
- Image sensor: CCD 1/2.3 in.
Guide Review - Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 Review
As mentioned above, Sony's image quality with the DSC-W290 is very good. Images are sharp and the colors are vibrant. Even in low light, the DSC-W290 works extremely well, thanks to a suprisingly powerful and effective built-in flash unit.
For beginner photographers, the DSC-W290 is a very good option because it is so easy to create sharp photos in fully automatic mode, which Sony labels "easy mode." (Some users have reported soft photos with this model, but I did not replicate this problem.)
Sony has included some scene modes with the DSC-W290, including a few odd ones. However, one scene mode Sony is missing is a document scene mode, which is becoming more popular on point and shoot cameras. Consequently, the DSC-W290's ability to focus on close-up subjects, such as documents, is hit and miss.
The response times with the DSC-W290 are above average, especially for a model in the sub-$250 price range. Start-up times are pretty strong with this Sony camera, and the DSC-W290's continuous-shot mode is well above average. Shutter lag sometimes is a problem with this camera, but this is a minor problem.
Design is a mixed bag with the DSC-W290. It's nice that Sony offers this model in four different body colors (blue, black, bronze, and silver). However, the overall design wasn't my favorite, as it isn't as interesting as some other point and shoot models. Others may like it, though. In addition, the DSC-W290 tends to accumulate fingerprints and smudges.
On the back of the camera, Sony has included a minimal number of buttons and controls, which is nice for a beginner camera. It's a clean look that's easy to use.