Review: Sony Cybershot DSC HX100v
Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V in the series of “superzoom” camera's provides plethora of features like 16.2MP 'Exmor R' back-illuminated CMOS sensor, Carl Zeiss 30x optical zoom, full HD 1080p video capture, GPS and stylish DSLR looks.
16.2MP Exmor R CMOS
30x Optical Zoom Lens 27-810mm Equiv with optical image Stabilization
921,000 3.0" tilting LCD Screen
1080x60p AVCHD HD Video W/Dual Record
Superior Auto W/Improved HDR
3D and Intelligent Sweep Panorama Modes
Up to 10fps Burst Shooting @16.2MP
Built-in flash, GPS, stereo Mic
Design and Build Quality
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V in the first sight look like a DSLR. It's a sizeable camera, considering the significant zoom range it's not any bigger than to be expected. The large hand grip features a rubber padding which helps in handles the superzoom with just right han. The camera is black and has a specked sort of textured design all over. Controls are dealt with by a mixture of mode dial and thumbwheel, met with a variety of single-press buttons, a four-way D-pad and a main menu button on the rear.
On the top of the HX100V are buttons for accessing the electronic view finder (EVF) or LCD display, custom settings, focus and a mode dial.The HX100V lacks a flash hotshoe mount and pop up flash is housed directly above the lens. Sitting just behind the pop-up flash compartment is a stereo microphone that records in Dolby Digital format for AVCHD video capture. With the rear hinge design of the HX100V's LCD, you frame the composition while looking directly behind the lens. The HX100V has ports for USB, HDMI and DC power connections. Charging connection is very intelligently placed so you can charge the battery and shoot using tripod at the same time.
The zoom trigger is located next to the shutter release button and is a common design seen on most cameras. The special in HX100v is dual zoom system which allows you to Manual zoom to focus preciously on your subject, specially useful during Macro shots because there is no dedicated Macro mode in the dial. The zoom/focus switch controls the behavior of the lens ring. In AF/zoom mode, turning the lens ring operates the zoom function. With the switch set to MF, rotating the lens ring controls focus.
Performance and Features
HX100v full of features, no denying the fact that Sony did a great job here but overall its a mixed bag in performance. The HX100V can shoot at a maximum framerate of 10fps at full-resolution which is great but there is a two to three second delay, between powering on the camera and accessing menus, adjusting settings or taking a picture. Switching to playback mode involves waiting a beat while a black screen with the message 'Accessing...' appears before you can review what you have just shot even in the Class 10 or better memory cards. Colors are reproduced in a reasonably accurate manner and contrast is pleasing at the camera's default settings.
Optical Zoom - The high-performance Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonar T lens with 30x optical zoom lens brings distant subjects closer for video recording as well as for outdoor, sports, and travel photos, and Close Focus shoots close-ups within a 0.5" of the subject. A 27mm equivalent wide-angle lens allows you to take wider shots of the scene or group in crowded spaces. But sony missed the Zoom Framing Assist feature, in this feature by simply pressing and holding the convenient Zoom Framing Assist function button, the camera will automatically zoom out to a wider focal point, allowing you to look for your elusive subject. Once found, releasing the button will cause the camera to return to its original position and intelligently keep the subject in focus. This is an outstanding feature with superzoom camera's and which is available in Canon Sx30IS / SX40IS superzoom camera's.
Video Recording - HX100v Record crystal clear movies at the highest resolution available with capabilities for 60p in 1080 Full HD. This provides stunning, fast motion video with less distortion for playback on your Blu-ray Disc players, Sony PlayStation systems and compatible PCs and HDTVs. A digital wind cut filter is available to enhance audio input from HX100V's the built-in stereo microphone.
Backlight Correction HDR - Don't miss a single detail in high contrast shots. The built in backlight correction analyzes the image and automatically adjusts accordingly to give you a perfectly lit shot. Backlight Correction HDR helps correct for this by taking three pictures at different exposure settings and processing the best elements of each into a single image for more natural looking shots.
Background Defocus - The system takes two shots, identifies the background and applies a defocused background keeping the subject crisp and clear. But you need to be at perfect distance other background defocus will fail and you will get a normal unblurred background shot.
Stablization - Optical SteadyShot image stabilization uses a built-in gyro sensor to detect camera shake and automatically shifts the lens to help prevent blur without sacrificing image quality. But at highest zoom stablization is not so good. If we talk about the Image Stablization then at highest zoom I have seen a outstanding stablization in Canon SX30IS/SX40IS superzoom cameras.
GPS - The built-in GPS and direction sensor of this camera acquire the information on location or the shooting direction, and record on images. The built-in GPS works well, unobtrusively and reliably recording your every movement, although the camera takes a few minutes to sync with one or more satellites and the battery life is reduced by around 25% if you leave it constantly switched on.
iSweep Panorama - With Intelligent Sweep Panorama mode just press the shutter, pan the landscape and let the camera do the rest. It automatically links together each frame to produce a high resolution panoramic image. But if you set the White Balance to Auto (Default value) then you can see the light variation in stiitching and easily noticed in the final panarama image. Worst thing is... this mode not keeps your settings saved so everytime you come to this mode then you need to adjust White Balance, Contrast, Sharpness etc... There are three sub-modes in this mode Standard ( panoramas extending approximately 120 degrees are created with dimensions of 4912 x 1080 pixels. ), Wide(a 180 degree panorama is created with dimensions of 7152 x 1080 pixels. ) HDR (a 180 degree panorama is created with dimensions of 10480 x 4096 pixels). For more Panorama images, please have a look here
Superior Auto Mode – Due to lack of final image quality setting (Medium, Fine, Super Fine) this feature becomes very useful. The camera automatically recognizes the correct scene mode, then quickly shoots and combines up to six shots to produce images with greater clarity, optimum dynamic range using backlight correction HDR technology and lower image noise using 6 shots layering technology. Otherwise in other scene modes or manual modes, noise is quite high in comparison to this mode. Due to combining of 6 shots, this mode also takes high processing time in shots with high detail. Sony we need a firmware update which allows us the less compression in final jpeg image.
Hand-Held Twilight mode – Last not the least, this is again a very good mode which allows you to take shots in a low-light with detail and less noise in high ISO settings. This mode functions by taking a series of images in rapid succession, then blending them into a single image. It is an automated mode though, and as such you do not have control over exposure parameters
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V is priced at $458 or Rs. 22,500 The 16 megapixel backlit sensor provides excellent results from ISO 100-800, with only the fastest settings of 1600 and 3200 suffering from too much noise and smearing of fine detail. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled and colours are accurate, and the incredible 27-810mm lens remarkably doesn't suffer from too much distortion at either end of the zoom range. This camera is lightweight and compact making it an ideal camera for those looking to travel. If Sony provides some firmware updates and improve the slow startup time, sluggish operational speed, control on jpeg compression because doesn't offer RAW file capture and mid-high ISO shots can lack finer details, then there is no doubt in saying this is the finest superzoom camera in the market till now.
These are some competitors in this superzoom range and everyone have some pros and cons. Major one's are... Canon SX40 HS (35x), Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ150(24x), Nikon Coolpix P500 (36x).
Some Sample Images shot from Sony HX100v
Sony Cybershot DSC HX100v Superzoom Camera Rating: 4.0 by Ashish Rastogi, CGArena