Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V REVIEW

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V REVIEW


As mentioned elsewhere, I bought this camera’s predecessor — the HX5V — about a year ago for family use. And enjoyed every still and video pixel it shot!

Sony Cybershot HX9V 2.jpg

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V Features

So what do we get with the new boy?

We can now enjoy a 16x optical zoom, (24-384mm on a 35 SLR). In 16:9 HD movie mode the zoom range resembles 25-400mm.

The 10fps burst rate continues in this model and, frankly, 10 full size JPEGs should keep everybody happy — but note this gives you a total of only 10 shots in each burst. No more.

Sweep panorama is an amazing feature and possibly limited by the choice of ideal subject matter, your own shooting skill and access to a large format printer.

The specs indicate that a sweep pano of 42.9MB can be captured with the final image size running to 10,480×4096 pixels. As a print: 88.7×34.6cm at 300 dpi.

Parking area pano 1 w car.JPG

This parking station shot was taken by panning in the direction of the car, which shows some of the genius in the pano mode. I count 30 plus segments.

You can shoot vertical or horizontal panoramas, tilting or panning in up/down or left to right/right to left directions.

As an adjunct to this function you can also shoot 3D image pairs, captured in 15 images at different angles and then compiled into one image, viewable on compatible TV sets. The PR blurb claims you can view these images “in simulated 3D on the camera’s LCD screen” by tilting the camera back and forth. I failed miserably to see 3D!

Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 is maintained in AVCHD capture and video capture is vastly improved in the bit rate figures: top rate (PS) is 28 Mbps, moving down to 9 Mbps (HQ).

MPEG4 capture at 1440×1080/1280×720/640480 pixels, rendered at rates of 12/6/3 Mbps.

The new camera can also capture smallish stills (2304×1296) while shooting video.

Sony Cybershot HX9V 1.jpg

Sony Cybershot HX9V 3.jpg

And More

Maximum image size is 4608×3456 pixels, or 39x29cm as a print.

The HX9V has GPS and a compass feature inbuilt so you can log your position after shooting an image or even find true North if you are trudging through the bush!

In camera guide.jpg

Newbies will like the in-camera guide. Sure helps when you’re on the road and need a hand up!

I had an issue with the instruction manual: too brief at 30 pages. There is an HTML guide but this is not searchable and, with the HX9V’s many complex features, the camera deserves better.

There is one factor missing from the HX9V. The HX5V had 45MB of internal memory … the new feller has none.

Fishing boys backlit 1.JPG


I had high hopes in this department.

To begin with, the new camera’s movie mode has fixed one of my major objections to the HX5V: the zoom’s wide angle end no longer has pronounced barrel distortion.

I then ran a comparison of the HX5V and HX9V, strapping the cameras together and shooting a walk through. Frankly, I could not pick a distinct advantage with either in smoothness; it depended on your own movement, with the stabiliser cushioning any violent movement.

However, the highest bit rate setting (PS) produced considerably less image noise.

When importing the clips into editing software the story became more interesting …

I could import all four quality levels (PS/FX/FH/HQ) into Adobe Premiere 5.0. However, my attempts to import the clips into Mac’s iMovie software were slightly less successful … all except the PS clip could be imported.

My advice? Go into the editing situation carefully before you buy the camera.

To see some incredibly good, professionally captured footage with this camera go to:

Sony Cybershot HX9V ISO 100.JPG

Sony Cybershot HX9V ISO 400.JPG

Sony Cybershot HX9V ISO 800.JPG

Sony Cybershot HX9V ISO 1600.JPG

Sony Cybershot HX9V ISO 3200.JPG

ISO Tests

I was frankly surprised to find the camera’s rendition: quite good in resolution and noise all the way up to ISO 1600. Only at ISO 3200 was there was any (slight) sign of a problem … but in fact this setting could quite satisfactorily be used for non-critical photography IMHO. A very good performance.


The HX9V has been slightly redesigned and some control points moved around. For me, there was not a lot of difference, as I had found the HX5V’s layout to be quite OK.

The 10 position mode dial gives access to auto camera operation as well as Program AE, manual exposure, scene modes, movie mode, iSweep plus a High Dynamic Range mode that relies on two identical exposures to maximise image quality. There is a mysterious one called MR for Memory Recall which gives a status display. A useful one if you shoot a lot portraits may be Background Defocus, but I couldn’t get it to work for me.

The flash is now a pop up job but still gives about the same output power as the predecessor.
Now there’s a new comfort pad on the camera’s back just beneath the shutter button; the speed grip is also textured.

Startup Time

Two seconds after I hit the power button I took my first picture, with follow-ons coming in at about a second each.


The still image and video modes showed no distortion at the zoom’s wide or tele end.

Park and skateboarder.JPG

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V Review Verdict

Quality: excellent in all my shots. This one of the skateboarder is an enlargement from about a quarter of the full image. Not bad!
Why you would buy this camera: biggish zoom; fast burst rate; sweep panorama function; Full HD with high bit rates; GPS feature.
Why you wouldn’t: you want a simpler, de-featured camera!

For me — a phenomenal camera.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.2 million effective pixels.
Sensor Type: CMOS.
Metering: Multi-zone, centre-weighted; spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm.
Lens: Sony G f3.3-5.9/4.28-68.48mm (31-496mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/1600 second.
Continuous: 10 fps.
Memory: MemoryStick Duo/Pro Duo/PRO-HG, SD, SDHC, SDXC.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608×3456 to 640×480. Movies: AVCHD 1920×1080, 1440×1080 at 50/60i + 50/60p. MPEG4 1440×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
File Formats: JPEG, AVCHD, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
LCD Screen: 7.5cm (921,600 pixels)
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, mini HDMI, and DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 104.8x59x33.9 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 245 g (inc battery, card).
Price: Get a price on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V at Amazon or at B&H Photo and Video.

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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V
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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

  • Ted August 4, 2012 03:29 pm

    RE: Roland: October 24th, 2011 at 6:28 pm "You must zoom the photos you shot with e.g. 10 or 16 megapixels to 100%, then you will aware the “aquarell effect”."

    I also see this "watercolor painting" effect when viewing at high magnification. It definitely looks like the photo has been processed in some way. I've only had the camera for two days so I haven't had a chance to dig in. I'm hoping there's a setting change that can correct this, otherwise I consider it a major defect. Does anyone have experience with this?

  • Tom Harmon April 24, 2012 10:27 am

    I just bought the DSC-HX9V and I'm loving it. Question: I was thinking the GPS function would somehow register your location with each photograph when the function was turned on. Am I wrong? I was thinking if I took a picture and stored it away for 15 years, I could come back and determine where the picture was taken because it had stored the GPS data with that individual photo. If that's not possible then I guess all that is possible is that you can write down your coordinates and save it with a picture manually. Somehow?

  • Arnab Ghosh April 5, 2012 07:20 am

    Please Help...

    I recently purchased this DSC-HX9V.
    And Capturing Still images at 4608×3456 pixels in various mode.
    But the all captured images are saved in 72 dpi.

    So, my problem/question is, can I change this image dpi to high in camera? or I've to always edit those in photoshop.
    Is there any solution?

  • Neringa January 22, 2012 11:22 pm

    I wanted to ask how to take good quality pics with this camera at concerts without flash? tried manual settings but photos were quite bad. could anyone tell me what ISO and shutter speed and aperture should i set or maybe its possible to do it wtihout manual settings? thx

  • Artman January 20, 2012 05:03 pm

    Hi there, it's a true story about water color like photos, which is on my nerve, after paying this much for having a high quality picture I only reach to an effect in photo shop. Please do not buy if you like to have detail in your photos instead a long shot.

  • Mohamed elarosi January 18, 2012 06:54 am

    sport mode:
    i got this camera 2 months ago and i took lots of gr8 pics, but i have a problem, most of the pics taken from sport mode using burst are out of focus, does anyone experienced this problem too?

  • Barrie Smith December 16, 2011 07:20 am

    Correction: the HX7v has a 10x zoom! Not having seen one I pulled the stats from a Sony press release! Wrong!

  • Barrie Smith December 16, 2011 07:18 am

    To Donald Hansen:

    the cameras are similar, with the same effective capture: 16.2 megapixels. With Full HD video capture, Sweep Panorama etc. 30x zoom.

    The HX9v: 16x zoom.

    The HX7v: Price? About 1/5th cheaper.

    I have been using the earlier HX5v for over a year and find it excellent.

    In your case either model would be OK.

  • Donald L Hansen December 15, 2011 12:32 am

    I recently purchased a DSC-HX7V Sony Cyber-shot. Can you tell me the difference between it and the DSC-HX9V?

  • roland October 24, 2011 06:30 pm

    PS: Sorry for the many typos in my last comment...

  • roland October 24, 2011 06:28 pm

    No, I am not deluded. You must zoom the photos you shot with e.g. 10 or 16 megapixels to 100%, then you will aware the "aquarell effect".

    This is due to the fact, most displays have only 92 dpi resolution, for that, you will not aware the aquarell effect on displays.

    So, for use on a website pciture from HX9V are no problem. But if you order a photobook or print the photos you have resolutions of 600 dpi or even 1200 dpi. Try it. You will get a print or expensive photobook ful of aquarells instead of photos.

    The movies the HX9V makes are - within system ranges - almost perfect. Specially the autofous woks best!

    But also here a problem: if you select the highest format for movies - 1920x1080p50 resp. x60p in USA and Japan - movies are saved in an incompatible format. You may not import them wether to iMovie, FCPX or FXP7. But there are no import problems with the other formats. So: it's not a problem of the software mentioned here, it's a Sony problem.

    Again: No firmware update available to download and install what will solve this problems. And this is extremely poor for a company like Sony. For this reason, this cam was my first and last Sony product I ever purchased.

  • Tony October 23, 2011 06:15 pm

    I think the reviewer is a little deluded. I bought this camera and have used it to take some 4000 photos over 6 weeks in Europe. The cam is very compact and takes some excellent video in bright light in 1080p.
    The problems however are numerous. There is SEVERE distortion on the wide end, so much that I had to use software to correct all wide shots as they look quite stupid to be honest. The video mode is good but don't pan too much as the camera's OIS can't handle anything more than the movement of pushing down on the shutter, i.e.. it is designed for OIC on camera stills. It is a good camera but far from perfect, I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Roland September 2, 2011 05:53 pm

    The cam itself has quite nice features.

    But I never saw a cam making that bad pictures (looking like water color paintings) like the HX9V.

    All complaints to Sony support has been rejected. The problem is the worst ever JPG compression. They say, it's the Sony standard compression and will never be changed to "fine".

    Yeah, it's a Sony. And you're lost. Also no firmware update ahead. :(

    My hint: do not by this crap. This was my first and last Sony product I purchased.

  • susy September 1, 2011 09:23 am

    To Barrie
    I've seen many reviews of terribile pictures that are likes a paint. Aren't you agree with this (maybe the only one problem that has this camera?? I'd like to know your opinion. sorry for my english...

  • Kimmie August 25, 2011 09:40 am

    Gene - I hope you mean chromatic aberration !

  • Barrie Smith August 23, 2011 07:31 am

    To Gene

    "severe focus softness on the left side of that image"

    That is sun flare.

  • Gene August 22, 2011 12:56 pm

    Horrible chromatic abortion in the last image... There also seems to be a severe focus softness on the left side of that image... That drop this from a 9 to 6 out of 10 for this camera...

  • Ceri Vale August 19, 2011 06:16 pm

    I've JUST purchased the Olympus XZ-1 with its zuiko f1.8 lens

    (PLEASE NOTE EVERYONE - the word LENS does NOT have an E on the end - THANKS)

    It's a fantastic piece of kit - so much so that I'm tempted to leave my dslr at home when I go on vacation to Sri Lanka

  • Diana Cacioppo August 19, 2011 11:21 am

    Me personally I just do not like the sony cameras with the sony lens I would rather spend the money on a point and shoot sony with the Carl Ziess but that's just me. The clarity with this lense it much more crisp and clear in my opinion.

  • Yacko August 18, 2011 09:04 pm

    Donna wrote: "I have seen a GE DSLR camera in a local store"

    You mean the GE X series, the X5 or X500? It isn't a DSLR just an elaborate point and shoot camera made to look like a DSLR. It's what is known as a "bridge camera". The lens is attached and doesn't come off though it is a wide zoom.

    It might be better for a beginner as no dust enters the body.

    But you need to do much more research to avoid an inappropriate purchase. Are you really looking for a point and shoot or a DSLR? If the latter, the only game is Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus and maybe Sigma.

    Any camera is better than no camera but if you are looking at a camera that gives you ultimate control then it's a DSLR. I'd recommend the lowest Nikon, a 3100 kit. You can eventually get better lenses and the menus are geared for assisting beginners in their quest to shoot good pictures.

  • Dominik August 18, 2011 04:33 pm

    I had a sony camera (T1?) years ago. it made also very nice pictures. but I will never again buy a camera from sony because i had discussions obout sand IN the lense, which was, in this case a lense with no moving parts visible from the outside. they didn't accept the warranty. I would not have discussed about sand in the body, but in the lense, which is assembled in a clean room?

  • Donna Ford August 18, 2011 09:13 am

    I have seen a GE DSLR camera in a local store and I can't seem to find any reviews on it. Have you tested or anyone else tried out this camera. I can't afford a Nikon or a Canon as of yet. I am new to the photography world and was thinking about buying this camera.
    I appreciate your help in this.