Sony Cyber-shot HX5 review

Review Date : Thu, 1 Apr 2010

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Sony Cyber-shot HX5

The Sony CyberShot HX5 is a flagship for Sony's compact range and offers a full assortment of its latest technologies, all rolled into one camera. Read or reviw of the Sony CyberShot HX5

Pros: Heaps of really clever functions
Cons: Overly bright low-res LCD screen

The Sony CyberShot HX5 is a flagship for Sony's compact range and offers a full assortment of its latest technologies, all rolled into one camera to create what they believe to be the ultimate creative tool.

It features a relatively sparsely populated 10.2MP sensor but is of their back illuminated Exmoor R CMOS models, designed for low noise at high sensitivity. It outputs at 3648 x 2736 pixels, in 3:2 format at 4000x2672, or 16:9 at 3648x2056 pixels.

The ISO range offers from 125 to 3200, with a handheld twilight scene mode that combines six exposures to produce shake-free images in very low light scenes.

Other intriguing functions on this model include: the intelligent sweep panorama that can produce a 270 degree images in just a quick sweep of the camera; a ten frames per second burst mode at full resolution; a backlight mode that takes multiple shots for an almost HDR effect, and GPS that not only pin points where the shot was taken but also, with the compass feature, the direction and coverage of the shot.

The lens offers a 10x zoom from a wide 25mm to a moderate 250mm with an max aperture of f/3.5 to f/5.5 at full extension controlled again via a lever around the shutter button. Interestingly, this is not a Zeiss lens but is classed as a Sony G lens, the range classed as professional quality in the DSLR lens range.

The Sony CyberShot HX5 offers a range of creative and easy shooting modes. For the creative side there's a Program mode and a manual mode, though no aperture or shutter priorities. There's a range of 14 scene modes, an intelligent Auto setting and an easy mode that keeps it purely as a point and shoot. The rear screen is a 3in LCD in 4:3 format that dominates the rear panel but features a fairly basic 230k dot resolution.

The video mode uses a standard AVCHD format to produce 1080i high definition video. This is the highest resolution in the test - though in an interlaced form so not full HD - and the AVCHD still suffers from having to use editing software to be able to view, unless you are plugging the camera directly into your TV.

Sony CyberShot HX5 design

The Sony CyberShot HX5 has a very solid build and few protruding features.

It features a recess to form a grip on the front of the body and also a slight recess on the back for the thumb position. The top plate includes a shooting mode dial which sits to the far right.

The rear panel has been kept very clean with a simple d-pad control that also includes quick functions, a dedicated movie record button and three small function buttons controlling playback, menu and delete.

Otherwise the LCD screen dominates the rear of the camera. Sony's new multi-card slot allows for either MemoryStick Duo or SD cards to be used in this model too.

Sony CyberShot HX5 performance

In use the Sony CyberShot HX5 is responsive and logical, with the main scene functions accessed directly from the top mode dial, however the lack of at least aperture priority does seem an oversight.

However, with only a choice of two apertures available at any one time, the manual and program modes are probably sufficient.

The added features on this camera are what really makes it special, and the burst mode, twilight shooting and intelligent sweep panorama would all be reason to buy this camera alone. Auto focus is swift and reliable even in low light conditions.

The real let down though is the LCD screen; despite its impressive size the 230k dot screen appears overly bright and the only display controls offer to further increase the brightness rather than reduce it.

Sony CyberShot HX5 image quality

Still images are bright and punchy with a well controlled and even exposure though can occasionally lose some highlights at the benefit of the overall scene.

Shots are well detailed and though some signs of noise reduction are visible throughout the range in areas of solid colour, the image is well preserved even at higher ISO values and offers some of the best performance at ISO 1600.

The backlight correction HDR mode, though impressive in maintaining a full tonal range, does appear Skin tones appear natural though the white balance can struggle at times with indoor and low light scenes.

The flash offers good coverage and leaves exposures looking natural.

The video gives a great looking image that is somewhere between the naturalness of the Canon and the punch of the Panasonic, though the sound lacks the richness of the TZ10.

Sony CyberShot HX5 value for money

Though the HX5 is the most expensive camera in this test it has by far the largest number of added features, almost all of which you'll want to use on a regular basis.

Images are a nice mix of natural tones and punch, and they more than hold their own in terms of quality and noise. It's only really the screen and slightly limited manual exposure options that hold it back.


Digital SLR Reviews

Price as reviewed

£320.00

Scores

WDC-goldaward
Scores
Design 18/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 18/20
Value 18/20
Features 19/20
Overall Score 91%

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