Sony CyberShot HX1

Review Date : Fri, 10 Apr 2009

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Sony Cyber-shot HX1
Sony Cyber-shot HX1 Sony Cyber-shot HX1 back

Sony takes on the superzoom market with the fully specified Cyber-Shot HX1 camera boasting ground-breaking features. The What Digital Camera Sony CyberShot HX1 review...

Pros: Excellent specification, innovative new features, ample LCD screen
Cons: Carries Sony price premium, LCD not vari-angle, no Raw capture

The Sony Cybershot HX1 was the product that caused the main stir when announced at this 2009's PMA, combining both slick design and a top-end matching specification with a pair of new technologies that are genuinely innovative. The What Digital Camera Sony CyberShot DSC-HX1 review...

Sony CyberShot HX1 review - Features

First up is the HX1's superzoom specification. A first for any of Sony's Cyber-shot H series, the HX1 features an Exmor CMOS sensor, much the same as the brand's Alpha series DSLRs, and one that outputs at 9.1 effective megapixels. The HX1 is also bolstered by Sony's BIONZ processor, one that allows the camera to shoot up to 10fps at full resolution, albeit for only a one-second burst.

The HX1's demarcation into the superzoom category comes in the shape of the model's 20x optical zoom. The lens is a Sony-developed G class lens, as opposed to Carl Zeiss optics often used by the brand, and offers a focal range of 28-560mm in 35mm equivalent terms.

A feature which is again prevalent throughout Sony's H series is the 'tilt-angle' LCD screen. The HX1 boasts a 3in, 230k dot version, and as with other models in the range, the LCD pulls away from the rear of the camera and pivots 180° around a horizontal axis. Again, as with many other superzoom cameras, the HX1 also features an electronic viewfinder as an alternative.

The HX1 offers full 1080p HD movie capture at 30 frames per second, and the on-board microphone offers stereo sound capture, complete with full HDMI output.

The real headline-grabbing features of the HX1, however, are in the camera's functionality, namely the model's 'Panorama sweep' and 'Handheld twilight' capture modes. The first of these capture modes allows the user to capture a 220° panorama image by simply pressing the shutter release and moving the camera in a sweep motion, with the HX1 automatically stitching together a series of images captured within a matter of seconds.

The HX1's handheld twilight capture works in a very similar manner, capturing six images in one burst and then combining the correctly exposed areas for one final image.

SonyHX1sampleshot-MiniPanorama.jpg
Where panorama assist functions have been available before, they've often involved manually lining up the images yourself, which is often an inexact process. The alternative to the in-camera version involves post-processing software, often a stand-alone application specifically made for the task, which will combine a range of images in one wide vista. The Sony HX1 simplifies the process in the extreme - all you have to do is press the shutter and move the camera in a sweep motion, and a 220° panorama is created. The HX1 captures the vista by utilising its burst mode and capturing up to 30 images, then taking the central section of all the images captured and stitching them together. The result - a 7152 x 1080 pixel image perfectly finished in the blink of an eye. 

 

More info:

Sony Cyber-shot HX1 - design and performance

Sony Cyber-shot HX1 - image quality and value for money

Sony Cyber-shot HX1 - verdict

Sony Cyber-shot HX1 - specifications

Verdict

It's not often that a camera comes to the market with new technologies that excite camera enthusiasts, but the HX1 does just that. Not only does it offer something new with its panorama sweep and handheld twilight modes, but it also offers a specification as good as that of any other superzoom camera currently on the market. Good image quality and performance follow, meaning that the HX1 is pretty much the complete package. The price is currently a bit of a stumbling block, but with that bound to fall in the near future, the HX1 looks like a good buy indeed.


Jon Tarrant

Jon Tarrant

Former professional photographer and photography journalist, Jon has now put his physics degree to good use by becoming a physics teacher. He contributes technical features to WDC and is our primary lens tester, where his science background comes in very handy. He is the author of eight photography books on topics ranging from portraiture and lighting to Understanding Digital Cameras.

Price as reviewed

£489.00

Scores

Scores
Design 18/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 18/20
Value 17/20
Features 19/20
Overall Score 90%