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I bought this camera a couple of years ago, when it was new to the market, and have mostly been very impressed with it ever since.
Obviously, with 13.6 MP the quality of the photos this camera takes is extremely high quality. Photos which I have up around the house which I have taken with this camera look excellent if printed properly.
My only criticism of this camera is the zoom, which I feel is quite poor. I'm not a camera geek by any means so can't comment on what is normal for zoom, but I just find the zoom on the camera poor quality and would expect more.
Ergonomically, the camera is just the right size for me, fits easily into the palm of my hand. The shell is very tough - I have dropped it a couple of times and not had any problems with it.
Also handy that if you want to show off your photos in high quality, you can plug the camera straight into the TV with a HDMI cable.
in terms of value for money this camera has to be one of the best, it has a huge number of pixels so you can get some very high quality shots. The camera is good for those who just want to point and shoot as it has a dial with preloaded settings and you just spin it to whatever your photographing. Its also good for those who are a bit more of a pro, it has dozens of changable settings for whatever you need to do, if anything there are too many settings to get around as each menu option has several sub menus. battery life is also very good, it also has a view hole as well as a view screen so you can turn the view screen off to make the battery last even longer. camera is also quite durable as i found out after dropping it several times. only downside i would say is it has a special battery shape so if it does run out you cant simply buy some more for the nearest shop. to get round this i bought a second battery so i can charge one while im using the other, this does however push the overall cost up but not by too much. would definately recommend
The W300 has a lot to live up to, it is the first compact digital camera to exceed 13MP, and it's from Sony. I'm not going to spend too long on things like picture quality because you can see comparison photo's elsewhere and at 13.6MP with a quality lens and Sony build, you know you are going to be taking awesome photos anyway.
What I am going to focus on is the day to day use of this mini marvel, the sort of information that you just don't get from camera review sites that spend a day with the camera analysing the smallest details and drawing graphs. It's the day to day detail that should really help prospective buyers with their decision, and there are a couple of real bone crunchers with this camera in my opinion.
Price and Form Factor
The W300 is a top end compact, that means it sits in a dangerous place, a lot more expensive than mid range compacts, and almost at the price point of a low spec full DSLR camera. People get into a right fizz faced with this dilemma, compact or DSLR, but the answer is really quite simple, and it comes down to form factor.
If you are comfortable carrying about a fairly bulky camera in a big case, perhaps with spare lenses then I'd say go for a DSLR, however if like me you like the freedom a pocketable camera offers, go for a high end compact like the W300. You can clip these things onto your belt with a quality case and you don't even know it's there, until you need it. With a DSLR, it's going to be a hastle to carry.
The actual W300 is very cool, it's a dark titanium finish that is extremely robust. I know this because mine got dropped (with the lense open) from the top of my house stairs, bounced all the way to the bottom, bounced into the hardwood floor of the kitchen, and there was not a single mark or malfunction with it - impressive for sure.
The LCD screen on the back is large and bright. I played it safe and bought a screen protector for it off ebay.
Features (AKA Gimmicks)
The Sony W300 does have a bunch of features that will keep what I would call high end hobbyists happy, but there are also a set of quick and easy features that are easily accessible for the point and shoot crowd. For example, oh the fun we had with the setting that automatically adds a smile to a face! Simply browse your photo's in the cameras slideshow setting and select any photo with a face on it, then you have quite a few photoshop type effects you can apply. The one that adds a smile to a blank expression is fun, and actually works incredibly well. Whether or not you would really use it is up to the end user, but the technology is very impressive.
The easy to navigate menu system has many many options and effects like that, some are good for showing off to friends, but perhaps will not get used too much. Others will help you take really stunning photos for sure.
Day to Day Usage
This is where I have to mark the camera, and Sony, down. As usual battery life is a major factor and can indeed be a deciding factor for many people, especially anyone who has been burned by constantly having their camera run out of charge at the wrong moment.
I don't have an issue with the battery life as such, it seems to be about the same as most other camera's that use Lithium Ion batteries. What is really bad though is that in order to charge the battery you have to remove it from the camera and place it in the supplied charging unit. This gets to be a pain. First of all there is always the chance you will misplace the charger, secondly why oh why can't we charge the battery while it is in the camera? In my old Fuji Finepix, when you put it in the docking station to transfer photo's - it would start charging, this is the way it should be! So, big minus point there.
Next, the system for connecting to a PC USB port is very flimsy. The proprietary cable connection on the base of the W300 just does not seem firm or solid, there is far too much movement in the connection to offer any sort of confidence and I find myself treating it with kid gloves always worried that the connection is going to break.
There really should be a charging/docking station for a camera at this price point. And there is! Except it is over £50, yes it has a cool feature that lets you view the photos on your HDTV, but we should not have to spend so much money just to get a decent charging set up.
Photo and Movie Quality
Like I said, there are plenty of sources for checking the picture quality of various cameras. I would summerise by saying that indoors can be a bit iffy, I've had some quite grainy results indoors, but outdoors you can achieve some stunning photos that will quite happily be printed out on large photo paper and still look fantastic.
The movies are pretty good. With compacts it is quite usual to see low frame rates that make the movie replay a little bit juddery or blocky if there is a lot going on, but with the W300 the movies are perfectly acceptable.
To finish on a positive note, the bundled software for transferring your photos is really very good. The photo transfer is fast, and the software is instinctive to use and has some neat options. For example there's a slider that changes the size of the photo thumbnails for easier, or quicker, viewing.
It's true that you should never focus on the megapixel count when choosing a new camera, but with the W300 you get an amazing 13.6 megapixel, a great lens, and superb Sony build. If only they had thought out the battery charging system it would be a no brainer.