Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Review

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Review


Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Review.jpg

I’ve had lots of experience with these mega zoom cameras: some enjoyable, some not so much.

If you’re new to the field, approach them with caution: the zoom range is appealing, impressive and somewhat frustrating.

For one, you simply cannot use them handheld at the full tele end: at best, use a tripod; at worst, lean them on something substantial, like a fence or a wall.

If you’re crazy enough to want to shoot video with the zoom working mid shot … practice, practice.

The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V initially surprised me: feels solid, pocketable, well-balanced in the hand, thanks to a prominent speed grip.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Rear.jpg

At rest, the camera is only 38mm deep; powered up, the lens protrudes and the depth increases to 73mm; with the zoom fully extended, it reaches 100mm depth.

Most external controls are id’d in white but some are rendered in off-white text. Designers: make ’em all white next time!

Bridge and ferry wharves Full wide.JPG

Bridge and ferry wharves Full tele.JPG

Sony claims it’s the world’s smallest 30x zoom, a claim with which I have no argument. The zoom range has a 35 SLR equivalent of 24-720mm, which makes it a very powerful shooting tool.

What sets it apart from most other mega zoom cameras is it ability to capture 20.4 million pixel images. This large image size is of course burdened by a small CMOS size, so noise will be a factor in large prints.

Bridge and ferry pano 1.JPG

Maximum image size is 5184×3888 pixels or as a 44x33cm print.

Video can be shot in either MPEG4 or AVCHD formats up to Full HD 1920×1080 pixel resolution. You can’t shoot stills while recording video.

Opera House.JPG

For what it’s worth the HX50V model offers enhanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation that is claimed to be about twice as effective as the HX200V high-zoom model of last year. It seems to me that each HX model raises the bar in image stabilising. Where will it end?

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Features

At first glance I felt the camera had minimal external controls. Anything missing?
No, as far as I could tell, everything appeared to be on deck.

Top surface: at left is the flash cell, with activating button just below; mid-surface is the multi interface shoe to attach electronic viewfinders, flashes or mics.

Moving further right is the power button, zoom lever, leading to the mode dial, with positions for intelligent and superior auto, PASM, scene modes, video, sweep panorama, memory recall. And a dial for exposure compensation.


The scene modes (17 in all) include positions for 3D shooting, fireworks, night portraits etc. Nine picture effects are accessed via the finder menu and these include HDR painting, rich tone mono, pop colour etc.

Rear: buttons for video record, replay, menu and trash. The four position control wheel gives access to self timer/burst shooting, flash options, display and ‘photo creative’ options. There is also a custom button that takes you directly to ISO, white balance, metering mode and smile shutter choices.

The finder menu is graphically clear and not at all intimidating.
The PDF manual I found to be sufficient bot no more than that. For a beginner, it’s poorly laid out and a little jumbled in access to important features.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V ISO Tests

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 80.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 400.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 800.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 1600.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 3200.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 6400.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V ISO 12800.JPG

Only at ISO 6400 did noise become a problem. At ISO 12800 noise was well up and definition down.


No problems at either end of the zoom.


About two seconds from power on I could shoot the first shot; follow-ons as fast as I could tap the button.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Review Verdict

Quality: above average.
Why you would buy it: compact; powerful zoom range; integrated WiFi; GPS functionality.
Why you wouldn’t: no RAW capture; no optical finder; no vari-angle finder.

Having already bought a couple of mega zoom compacts, I am loathe to invest more hard-earned shekels in acquiring another one, but this baby is enormously appealing. Please, mummy, can I raid the piggy bank one more time?

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V Specifications

Image Sensor: 20.4 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi pattern, centre-weighted, spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: Sony G f3.5-6.3/4.3-129mm (24-720mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 4 to 1/1600 second.
Memory: Memory Stick Duo, PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/SD/SDHC/SDXC and Micro SD/SDHC cards plus 48MB.
Image Sizes (pixels): 5184×3888 to 640×480.
Movies (pixels): 1920×1080, 1440×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
Rear LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, AVCHD, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI, WiFi, DC.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 108.1×63.6×38.3 WHDmm.
Weight: 272 g (with battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX50V at Amazon.

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

Some Older Comments

  • Terry O'Brien September 30, 2013 02:12 am

    I just returned from Africa after breaking in the HX50V. It performed very well and could out reach a number of big guns in the van. I carried a small hand tripod for tougher reaches and wasn't disappointed. More than two hours of AVCH movies, likewise were crisp and colorful. As a precaution, I carried along an old Sony D580 w. an 18-250 zoom, after a few days, I didn't use it much because the HX50 performed better at almost every level. If you are looking to simplify your life and avoid packing three or four lenses for you DSLR when traveling. The HX50V is a keeper.

  • Andrea Bulgarini September 10, 2013 08:47 pm

    Thank you Barrie for clear review of DSC-HX50V! Very good job! AndreA from Italy

  • Emily August 13, 2013 10:17 am

    Thanks Orville. I went with the TZ40. I love it!

  • Peter Park August 13, 2013 02:14 am

    I need a smaller digital camera in addition to my DSLR for mostly food and travel photography. I've been wondering if I should get this DSC-HX50V or Fujifilm x100 for many days now and can't decide. Which do you recommend?

  • Barrie Smith August 9, 2013 11:41 am

    Thanks tom Rich Smith

    for your correction. I may well have had the camera in AVC HD 28M record mode. Bit annoying that this could prevent still shooting mid video. Most people will shoot at this top quality.

  • Orville August 9, 2013 03:50 am

    If you are on the fence, I can say this is the best point and shoot I have ever purchased. It rivals most DSLR's in picture quality and you will love the 30x zoom. It is loaded with other features you might like, such as wi-fi capability, hi def video recording, ability to shoot in low light, and numerous scene selections and filter effects for fun. One of the drawbacks is no view finder, which makes it difficult to shoot and/or see the monitor in bright light. Overall, an excellent camera.

  • Rich Smith July 30, 2013 02:26 pm

    Your Sony HX50V review says "You can’t shoot stills while recording video.", however, page 48 of the HX50V Cybershot Users Guide says...

    "Shooting still images while recording a movie (Dual Rec)
    You can shoot still images while recording a movie. The camera keeps recording the movie even if you
    shoot still images.
    1. Press the MOVIE (Movie) button to start recording a movie.
    2. Press the shutter button.
    A still image is recorded.
    The number of recordable still images (A) appears on the screen when you press the shutter
    button halfway down.
    3. Press the MOVIE button to stop recording the movie.
    When movies are recorded in [AVC HD 28M (PS)] quality, you cannot use Dual Rec.
    The sound of the shutter button operating may be recorded.
    Flash is not available for shooting still images during movie recording.
    The size of a still image that can be shot while recording a movie varies depending on the movie
    size. For details, see “Still Image Size(Dual Rec).” [Details]
    When the Smile Shutter function is set to [On], the shutter releases automatically each time the
    camera detects a smiling face. You cannot switch [On] or [Off] for Smile Shutter during movie
    When the (Movie Mode) is set and the camera is on [Standby], you cannot use [Smile Shutter]."

  • Emily July 26, 2013 07:32 pm

    Hi Barrie

    Any chance you'll be doing a one on one comparison between this camera and Panasonic's Lumix TZ40/SZ30? I'm completely torn between the two.


  • Emily July 26, 2013 01:20 pm

    Hi Barrie

    Is there a chance you'll do a one on one comparison between this camera and Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TZ40? I'm completely torn between the two.