Price (RRP): $449
Reviewer: Byer Gair
Another camera with a modest, outward appearance but with some useful features. The W55 is a slim (22.9 mm) point and shooter, available in blue, pink, black and silver.
The fully retractable 3x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar is absolutely all you need for average family picture taking but, if you want to capture sports shots, you should look elsewhere, and search out cameras with longer zooms.
The CCD holds 7.2 megapixels. Its maximum image size of 3072×2304 is sufficient to make a 35 x 26 cm print. The W55 can also shoot movies, with an image resolution of 640×480 pixels and a speed of 30 fps.
There’s only a handful of controls dotting the camera’s surface. The rear of the W55 carries a 6.4 cm LCD screen, small by comparison with many models currently on the market. There is also no optical viewfinder, so shooting in bright outdoors can be a bit of a challenge.
Check out the camera’s top surface and you find the mode dial, operational heart of the W55. A novel touch is the way each selection is displayed on the LCD: as each option is rolled across a small icon appears on screen, supported by text explaining the function. An example is the twilight setting: “Shoot a low light scene without flash.” Called Menu Guidance, the feature offers help in understanding what’s going on with exposure and also informs you on the most appropriate print size and number of shots available in memory. It takes much the guesswork out of selecting the right image size.
You can operate the W55 in auto exposure mode or in Program AE. If you feel a little uneasy ‘flying solo’, then the presets, built into the mode dial, will help. Here you can select from High Sensitivity ISO (this takes shots in low light with no flash using a high ISO setting of 1000), Soft Snap (this feature ‘warms up’ the subject’s skin tone), twilight and twilight portrait (both help to retain the night-time atmosphere in exterior night scenes), landscape, beach or snow.
Another feature not seen very often is a large internal memory allowance. The W55 has 56 MB available, even without loading a memory card. This memory will store 16 full size images, possibly sufficient for the average person’s shooting day. The internal memory also comes in handy if you have just bought the camera and have not laid out the cash for a Memory StickÂ – you can use it straight out of the box!
The supplied, rechargeable lithium ion battery is also a high capacity cell: 3.4 Watt hours of power will allow the shooting 380 shots before a recharge is needed. Most cameras have batteries only a third as powerful.
Power up the camera and you have to wait about three seconds before shooting the first shotsÂ – there are quicker cameras out there!
For an easy-to-pocket camera, the W55 can take some very high quality pictures. The high ISO 1000 setting can be useful.