Sweeping Away the Competition

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V

With so many superzooms in the market today, how different is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V? Supriya Joshi puts it to the test.

When the HX1 was launched in 2009, it brought with it the Sweep Panorama mode, which gives instant panoramas by just moving the camera in a sweeping motion. Two years down the line, its immediate successor, the HX100V packs in a 30x zoom and a host of features. But after recently testing several superzoom cameras, the question is what makes it stand apart from the rest?

Features
The HX100V comes with a 27–810mm f/2.8-5.6 lens, a respectable maximum aperture range for a superzoom. It houses a backlit 16MP Exmor CMOS sensor that supports class-leading 1080p video at 60fps with stereo sound.
The ‘Intelligent’ Sweep Panorama mode of the HX100V has three formats— Standard, Wide or High Resolution (for 43MP panoramic images). Amongst the slew of other interesting features emerges the 3D mode, which again has three variants—3D Still Image, 3D Sweep Panorama and Sweep Multi Angle. These work by combining exposures from slightly different vantage points but do not have the same accuracy as that of lenticular based stereo 3D cameras.
An excellent 921,000-dot 3-inch tilting LCD along with a rather small but sharp 201,000-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) enhances the shooting and viewing experience. Program and full manual exposure controls, optical image stabilisation, and GPS functionality adds to the extensive list of features.
The camera lacks a hot shoe and there is no support for RAW, making it untenable as a beginner’s alternative to a DSLR or even an advanced compact camera.

Handling
The HX100V is quite light and compact considering its 30x zoom range. Yet, it feels sturdy enough and is comfortable to hold. Adding greatly to the user experience of this camera is the fly-by-wire ring on the lens that can either be used to manually focus or zoom. A switch near the lens barrel toggles between AF/Zoom and MF. The stepped zoom is smooth, quick and accurate. Manual focus is also quite handy in conjunction with a magnified view of the subject on the LCD.
The shutter release button is quite sensitive and only requires a slight touch to focus on a subject. Before I got used to it, I often ended up releasing the shutter when I wanted to focus. Another annoyance is the lens cap, which tends to fall off.
On the whole, once I got used to the dedicated access buttons, intelligently designed controls… and the quirks, I found myself enjoying the camera a lot.

Performance
The HX100V can shoot 10 frames at10fps before it needs to write to the card, and it does very well in photographing images of fast moving subjects. The AF is fast and consistent even at the telephoto end in most situations.
Distortion at either ends of the zoom, while visible, is surprisingly well controlled for a zoom of its range. Images show some purple fringing in high contrast lighting, but it is not as severe as some of the other superzooms I tested.
White Balance performance of the camera is precise. Colours are accurate. The metering system also performs well in tough situations. Up to ISO 1600, images are reasonably clean. Unlike its competitors, the HX100V allows you to increase ISO in 1/3rd stops, saving image quality. While the quality of the video is excellent, there are no manual controls.

Conclusion
A great mix of exciting features, good image quality, excellent video, at the price of Rs. 22,990 makes the HX100V a very compelling package. For the discerning photographer, the HX100V offers some of the best features against its competitors.
I started the review asking, how different is this camera from the other superzooms in the market, and after spending time with this camera, I can say with certainty that it is one of the best superzoom cameras in the market today.

The quick AF and minimal shutter lag of the HX 100V helped capture the moment. Exposure: 1/60sec at f/3.5 (ISO 100) Photograph/Supriya Joshi

The quick AF and minimal shutter lag of the HX 100V helped capture the moment. Exposure: 1/60sec at f/3.5 (ISO 100) Photograph/Supriya Joshi

Final Ratings
Features
30x zoom, Full HD video, Sweep Panorama
27/30

Performance
Fast AF, good noise performance
26/30

Build Quality
Lightweight, lens cap tends to fall off
13/15

Ergonomics
Articulated LCD, flimsy shutter-release button
12/15

Warranty & Support
2 years warranty, 75 service centres
6/10

OVERALL: 84%
Value For Money: 3.5/5 stars

 

Tags: 30x zoom, Camera review, Full HD video, January 2012, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V, Supriya Joshi, Sweep Panorama