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About this time last year I fell upon a Sony DSC-HX5V compact digicam with great glee, buying one to use for my family picture making. It has since traveled with us on all our excursions, elegantly and easily recording our trips as HD movies.
Admittedly, there are a few hangups with it, mostly to do with the image stabiliser… it doesn’t like the camera to stay still!
So, it was with considerable interest that I wrapped my sticky fingers around this new model, eager to suss it out.
The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX100V is quite a bit larger than the HX5V, in the guise of a faux DSLR, with a fixed 30x Carl Zeiss zoom, swing out 7.6cm LCD screen and a few other tricks.
The CMOS sensor captures 16.2 million effective pixels, with a maximum still image of 4608×3456 pixels, enough to make a 39x29cm print.
But what makes the HX100V a dynamically powerful camera is its panorama function, able to capture vertical or horizontal sweeps of up to 10,480×4096 pixels, leading to a 89x34cm print. True!
Like the HX5V, the HX100V shoots the sections of the panorama as you swing it up/down or across (in two directions), then stitches the sections in-camera.
Then there is the burst mode that shoots 10 full size images in a second. No excuses for missed action!
Then, if that’s not enough, you can shoot 3D in the MPO format, first seen in the Fujifilm 3D camera. The 3D is captured using the 3D Sweep Panorama mode or the 3D Still image mode. In this mode, the camera takes two consecutive shots and creates left- and right-eye images to produce a 3D effect. You can watch these on compatible 3D TV sets or you can view a simulated 3D on the camera’s LCD screen … but not very successfully, demanding you tilt the camera to get the stereo effect.
Full HD video capture of 1920×1080 pixels at 60 progressive frames is recorded in the AVCHD format. Select lower resolutions and it will write MPEG4 to the card.
Somehow, the HX100V seems able to capture video with less fuss than my earlier compact; something to do with the shape and weight of the former. The stabiliser arrangement appears to be the same.
What’s nice is that, as you shoot video and move around, the auto exposure and auto focus work well. You can also shoot stills mid-movie at the 2304×1296 size (with AVCHD video).
The GPS function (as indicated by the ‘V’ in the model number) will attract many and the feature, logged on the LCD screen, worked well in my location. Post-shoot, you can access the GPS data embedded in the image with the supplied PMB software (Picture Motion Browser), but only for Windows.
What’s interesting about the camera is the lens arrangement: you can work the zoom with the toggle, atop the camera; or you can move out to tele or back to wide by rolling the lens barrel itself, but, as the lens is servo operated, there is a lag that can be a little off-putting. Alternately, you can choose to use manual focus by switching a button on the lens itself, with an on-screen indication of your focus point is. Me? I’m happy with auto!
?There is an HDR feature in the HX100V that is in reality a way to handle heavily backlit subjects: three shots are taken at differing exposures, then the trio are stitched into a single, properly corrected image. Naturally, this is not a feature you can use if you use flash, hold the camera erratically or with subject movement.
As expected, the ISO 100 shot is fine. By ISO 400 noise is on the rise, continuing with ISO 800 and 1600. IMHO the ISO 3200 could still be used with certain shots requiring the increased speed.
The odd thing is that, although indirect sunlight was the light source, the rendering of all these test shots tended towards blue.
This is an unusually well-corrected lens, as it showed no sign of distortion at the wide or tele ends of the zoom. Does the name Zeiss mean anything to you?
In three seconds after power is tapped, the camera shot its first shot; follow-ons came in as fast as I could touch the shutter button.
The review was conducted under less than ideal circumstances; getting the camera with no manual, after a day or two eventually tracking down a small PDF guide on the Net. This was a far from ideal publication, in English and Spanish, with only 33 pages in my mother tongue. Olé!
The camera is a reasonably complex one, so you may have difficulty in figuring out its options in the tiny manual!
Quality: top class images with fine resolution and good colour saturation.
Why you would buy it: Full HD capture; 10 fps burst; 30x zoom.
Why you wouldn’t: the camera is not truly pocketable.
For me, this is a honey of a camera and could handle all the photographic chores most amateurs face. The image critical will come down heavily on the small sensor; fewer and larger pixels could mean improved picture quality.
Image Sensor: 16.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zones, centre-weighted, spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar f2.8-5.6/4.8-144mm (27-810mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second.
Memory: Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo/SD/SDHC/SDXC cards plus 19MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608×3456 to 1920×1080. Panorama: 10,480×4096 to 1920×1080.
Movies (pixels): 1920×1080, 1440×1080, 1280×720, 640×480 at 60p.
Viewfinder: 5mm EVF/FLC (201,600 pixels).
Rear LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (921,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, AVCHD, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI, DC.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 122x87x93 WHDmm.
Weight: 577 g (with battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX100V at Amazon.
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