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August 05, 2009

New Sony Cybershot WX1 is a promising P&S compact with 24-120mm lens and Exmor-R CMOS

The Sony W-series had a little bit of a change in direction today, as the brand new Sony Cybershot WX1 branches away from the mold of the current W-series, "led" by the Cybershot W300 which came out in February 2008 and was one of the highest megapixel-cameras of its time.

In contrast, the new WX1 downshifts to the 1/2.4" Exmor-R sensor with a more reasonable 10-megapixels. The lens is a welcome change as well, it is a "G" Sony-branded lens that has a versatile 24-120mm focal range and starts at f2.4, and offers optical image stabilization.

The "insides" are similar to the new TX1, and includes the sweeping panorama and the 720p HD video mode. But the display is a more traditional 2.7-inch LCD, not the touch-screen of the TX1.

Fans of "machine-gun mode" will be thrilled that just like the other "speed-demon sensor" cameras, it can record as fast as 10fps.

But it's not a non-stop party, the camera does not have an optical viewfinder, nor it gives the photographer control over exposure (A/S/M). It could have been, but it is certainly not a spiritual follow-up to the good old Cybershot V1.


Price and availability
The camera is estimated to be released in October with a starting price of $350. The camera is already listed for pre-order at Amazon.

Further Reading
+ Alpha Mount World
+ Press release at Imaging Insider
+ Imaging Resource
+ Sony Europe (corrected url)

A little bit about the Exmor R CMOS sensor
Both of today's new cameras, the WX1 and TX1, are using the new Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor, combined with the BIONZ engine.

As usual, the press release (see PDF file at Sony Europe website) has a number of claims, and because this is a new sensor, it is always interesting to see what is promised and what is delivered once the cameras are released and put under the microscope.

One of the claims is "superb low noise images" which is definitely something we would love to see come true. But we heard that story one too many times before, so we will reserve judgment until the pictures and the reviews come out.

Part of the reasoning behind this is that the new sensor captures more light than a conventional CMOS sensor of the same size. and at the same time it boosts sensitivity, and reduces noise. Walks on water and chews gum at the same time were not included in the press release ;-)

Next, the BIONZ sensor is credited for the cameras "speed-demon mode", and certainly being able to take 10fps stills is nice, be it for practical or geek-cred reasons :)

So we look forward to finding out what this new sensor can deliver. We hope for the best, but as always, cautious optimism makes the fall less painful ;-)

UPDATE: The Sony Electronics blog talks about the new sensor and gives a short primer on the backlit sensor.

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