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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V Review
Technology should make our lives easier
• Huge 30 x zoom range
• GPS mode
• Superb design
• Crisp HD video
• No RAW option
• Slow shutter speeds in Auto mode
• Good quality pictures at low ISO only
Sony’s latest bridge camera, the DSC-Hx100V is an impressive compact with thoughtful design and a huge focal range thanks to the 30x zoom lens. A lack of RAW mode is disappointing, but it can’t take away from the positives this camera has to offer.
The Sony DSC-HX100V is the latest ‘super zoom’ camera in their Cybershot range, and is the successor to the HX1 model from 2009. With a 30x zoom lens and built in GPS, it is quite a step up from the HX1, and we take a look below to see if this technologically advanced bridge camera matches up to its peers.
Features & specifications
The DSC-HX100V is crammed full of features and technology, and the main feature is the huge 30x zoom lens, which is remarkable on a compact camera. This is combined with a 16.2 megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, 1080p Full HD video with stereo sound, built in GPS tracking, a 3 inch tilting LCD screen with 921,000 dots, Intelligent Auto Plus, optical steady shot, 3D images and sweep panorama mode (which allows you to capture a panoramic image without the use of a tripod.
The built in GPS mode can determine the location of your photographs as you take them, and geo-tag them so that you can sort and categorise them at a later date. This works much better than other GPS systems we have seen on compacts, as it was very accurate in the locations we tested in.
The HX 100V does, however, lack a RAW shooting, which we would have expected on a camera of this level.
Design & build
Due to the fact that this camera has a 30x zoom lens, the Sony HX100V is certainly not the smallest bridge camera on the market. However, it is surprisingly lightweight and compact, and is still smaller and lighter than the majority of DSLRs available. It is very well designed ergonomically, with a great textured finish that makes it comfortable in the hand and easy to navigate.
The controls on the HX100V are a combination of a mode dial, a rear thumbwheel, a four-way D-pad and a variety of single-press buttons. The thumbwheel is very cleverly designed, as you can rotate to alter the shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and aperture, and you can also switch between the three settings by pressing the thumbwheel inwards. This becomes fairly intuitive after just a few minutes with the camera, and is a superb little feature that has really been thought about by the designers.
As mentioned above, the top selling-point and most impressive feature on the DSC-HX100V is the 30x zoom lens, which has a range of 27mm to 810 mm focal length. There are only a couple of other bridge cameras that boast a greater range, so this is quite remarkable on a compact. There is a nice dual zoom system on the HX100V, with one zoom control around the shutter, and a lens ring that can be used to control the zoom also, with a switch on the side of the zoom barrel that gives you the option to switch between the two. As this is a powered zoom, there is some steeping as it moves between focus lengths, but this a smooth and quick action so won’t cause any problems.
The 3 inch LCD monitor on the rear of the camera has a resolution of 921,000 dots, which provides excellent clarity, even in bright conditions, and can be titled to help with shots from above/below etc. There is also a viewfinder and the HX100V cleverly switches back to the LCD display when you take your eye away from the viewfinder.
During all our tests, we found that the DSC-HX100V performed very well at low ISO levels. It handled noise really well, producing noise free images up until an ISO level of 800, and then becoming progressively worse up to its fastest ISO level of 3200. At low ISO levels images were superb; very sharp and clear, especially once we adjusted the in-camera sharpening, but the camera struggled slightly at higher ISO.
We found that the HX100V handled chromatic aberrations very well, with only slight purple fringing around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations.
With the Macro mode, you can focus up to 5 cm away from the subject, which is reasonable but we have seen better on other bridge cameras. The maximum 30 second shutter speed allows the HX100V to capture enough light in low-light settings, and we found the built in flash works very well.
The main negatives we found were that firstly there is no RAW shooting mode included. For a camera that is clearly aimed at serious photographers, it is baffling that this option isn’t available. We also found that when shooting in auto or priority modes, the shutter speeds selected are excessively long, meaning that photos will be a little blurred due to handshake.
Video & sound
The Sony DSC-HX100V provides crisp HD video recording, and has the option of using the zoom whilst recording. There is also a built-in stereo microphone to record stereo sound.
The battery life of the HX100V is another plus point, with 410 shots per charge according to CIPA testing. However, these results are with the camera’s GPS switched off, so this will be considerably less if you have GPS constantly switched on.
Overall the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX100V is a very impressive bridge camera. It has a wealth of excellent features (including the superb 30x zoom), is superbly designed and will provide great images at low ISO levels. The lack of RAW shooting and the quality of photos at high ISO ranges are the main negatives here, but the HX100V more than makes up for these shortcomings in all other areas.
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