point and shoot camera – Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350, 2017

Even though smartphones have largely taken over as the default picture taker for most people, there are good reasons to get a dedicated point and shoot camera. Sony’s DSC-WX350 illustrates one of these reasons well: large optical zoom.

Summary

Smartphones often struggle with taking pictures of distant objects. This is due to several technical limitations, the biggest of which is lens size. As a dedicated camera, the WX350 houses a larger lens that enables 20x optical zoom. The lens’s f/3.5 aperture is fairly narrow, which means the lens captures less light than the wider apertures on other cameras. This results in lower-quality images.

The battery life on this camera is impressive. You can take a whopping 470 shots before the battery needs to be recharged. That’s more than any other camera on our lineup. If you’re looking for a camera that can go for long periods of time before recharging, then the WX350 is a great option.

So, how good is it at taking pictures? The camera’s 1/2.3-inch sensor is only of average size, which means you’ll get decent-looking pictures, but nothing exceptional. That said, each image has great color accuracy, even if the clarity isn’t quite as good. You can also take advantage of high dynamic range (HDR) to create well-exposed images.

This Sony camera has a very high ISO ceiling (12,800), which means the camera’s sensor is quite sensitive. Theoretically, this means the WX350 should perform well in low light. The problem with high ISO is it can make images very grainy. In fact, the WX350 performed poorly in our low-light testing due to how grainy the images were.

The camera is missing a few features you’ll find on the best point and shoots. For instance, it doesn’t have any NFC (near field communication) to help you quickly and easily transfer photos from your camera to your smartphone. It also doesn’t have a touchscreen. Navigating menus with buttons and dials feels outdated now that touchscreens are so common.

Another aspect to consider before you purchase the WX350 is its shutter speed. At 1/1600, this camera has the slowest shutter speed of any point and shoot camera on our lineup. A faster shutter speed allows you capture crisper images. You need fast shutter speeds to take blur-free pictures of moving objects.

Sony’s DSC-WX350 is by no means a bad camera, but its low-end optics keep it from competing with the best. With some nice features like HDR, 20x optical zoom and a long battery life, the WX350 is useful in the right situations. However, a mediocre sensor and narrow aperture keep it from being among the very best point and shoot cameras.