Sony WX-350 and other small Travel Zooms

Clockwise, from the left: Fuji F850EXR, Sony WX-350, Nikon S6500, Panasonic ZS-15.

The Sony WX-350 delivers in a few remarkable areas: very small size and light weight, and extremely good battery life. That will be enough to please many, although in all other respects the WX-350 is just average. In terms of shooting performance, the Fuji F850 and the Panasonic ZS-15 are noticeably faster, while the similarly sized Nikon S6500 is the slow-poke of the bunch.

As is common with small digital cameras, the lenses are not particularly bright. The Sony starts out at f/3.5, closing down to f6.5 at full zoom. The ZS-15 goes from f/3.3 - f5.9, the Nikon from f/3.1-6.5, and the Fuji from f/3.5-5.3. As primarily a still camera, the Fuji is my pick of the litter, particularly when shooting in its "M" mode, or 8 meg mode, which allows the EXR processor to do its thing. For video, though, its battery life isn't good enough to be of much cold weather field use, as is the case with the Nikon S6500.

The Fuji also has the most visible, enjoyable LCD, the Panasonic having the weakest, which the only thing that I could consider a flaw of sorts with the ZS-15. Still, the Panasonic focuses faster than the WX-350, is better in low light (none of these cameras are great in that regard), and the Panasonic has the full PASM set of controls to work with. Though the Panasonic's battery life is not superb for video (260 CIPA still shot rating) by dimming the LCD as much as possible and going with higher capacity (1200 mAH vs. 895 mAH OEM) aftermarket batteries, I've been able to squeeze out over ninety minutes minutes of video capture between battery changes.


While the WX-350 delivers on lightness, low-bulk, and very impressive battery life, the rest of the camera is just wonderfully adequate, and not good enough to best the Fuji F850EXR as a 20x travel zoom, nor good enough to beat the older Panasonic 16x ZS-15 in terms of speedy shooting performance, video, or general still image quality.



Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.





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