Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W300 is a pocket-sized camera that offers one of best balances of size, performance and ease-of-use we've seen.

For the highest-quality shots, it's best to invest in a digital SLR. However, compact models such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300 offer high-quality sensors, good glassware, powerful digital processing and a wide set of manual controls within small, sleek, light bodies – so you can keep them on you at all times, ready to capture that perfect shot as soon as inspiration strikes.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300 is small considering its functionality, and has a unique dark grey styling with black and silver flash that's going to garner envious stares. It's not as tiny as ultra-compacts such as Casio's Exilim Card S10 – but those models have very limited feature sets and fiddly control buttons.

On the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300's back is a zoom rocker, a mode wheel, a D-pad and four buttons. Two of the camera's buttons are hard to get to with your right hand - a Home button that offers a slimmed down menu system to help the novice, and a slideshow button.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300's output is among the very best of the pocket-sized cameras we've looked at recently, beaten only by Nikon's Coolpix P5100, which produced slightly sharper and more accurate images. But the W300 isn't sluggish or bulky like the P5100. The W300's 13.6Mp sensor produces very detailed images and the SuperSteadyShot image stabilisation system is excellent.

The ability to capture great images is helped by some manual controls. There are no aperture- or shutter-priority modes, only a full manual mode with controls over both and you can only change the aperture in full f-stops.

One small niggle is that Sony still insists on using various versions of its proprietary media card format – Memory Stick Pro Duo – while most other manufacturers use SD Card media. This is not only inconvenient, but Memory Stick Pro Duo cards cost much more than SD.

However, this is a small price to pay to get your hands on a stylish snapper that's efficient and effective at taking great shots.

Visit Photo Advisor for reviews of the latest cameras, and digital photography and video hardware and software products.

Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W300 is a pocket-sized camera that offers one of best balances of size, performance and ease-of-use we've seen.

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300
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Visit Photo Advisor for reviews of the latest cameras, and digital photography and video hardware and software products.