Sony's Cyber-shot range has long been known for combining cutting-edge technology with sleek design in some of the most reliable compact cameras on the market. The HX20V is the latest of these models, but how does it shape up under WDC test conditions?
Sony has a knack of cramming its Cyber-shot series with a whole host of imaging gadgetry, as well as a range of cutting edge features. The latest model in the range – the Sony HX20V – is no different at first glance.
The HX20V features an 18.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, combined with Sony’s BIONZ processing technology for enhanced performance in low-light conditions. The model’s 20x optical zoom covers a focal range of 25-500mm, which is comprised of Sony’s self-manufactured ‘G’ optics. The rear of the camera, meanwhile, houses a 3in 921k-dot LCD screen complete with Xtra Fine Trublack technology.
So far, so advanced compact, but it’s with its extra functionality that Sony’s aims to distinguish the HX20V from the crowd. For example, the model’s 20x optical zoom can be doubled in range using Sony’s ‘Clear Zoom’ functionality – an advanced take on its digital zoom predecessor.
The model also not only features Sweep Panorama shooting, but also a 3D variety of Sweep Panorama, while GPS functionality is also on offer. The list of advanced features and gadgetry continues, and for those struggling to get to grips with the functionality there’s an in-camera guide to help the user with on-screen tips.
With the HX20V packing a substantial focal range, as well as said host of technology, it was always going be difficult to keep the model’s size down. Although Sony has performed admirably in this regard, the HX20V certainly feels substantial in the hand. Handling is aided, however, by a well-placed thumb rest and textured grip, making the model feel comfortable in use.
The general user experience is a enjoyable, with the HX20V operating in a swift manner. Sony claims AF speeds of as little as 0.13 seconds and, while it’s difficult to perceive variations around that measure, it’s certainly both lightning quick and accurate. As you’d expect with an advanced compact, the HX20V features manual capture controls that which are welcome, although the maximum aperture of f/3.2 is slightly disappointing.
While the HX20V’s white balance proves to be reliable, the same cannot unfortunately be said about the model’s metering. As a rule it underexposes by a little way and, while it does preserve highlight detail and can be corrected by exposure compensation, this is a slight disappointment. The model also suffers with rendering fine detail, no doubt in part to the megapixel count on a compact camera sized sensor. It’s not all bad news, however, as the HX20V’s lens performs admirably, while colours pack a punch and the general tonal range captures is also impressive.
While there’s no denying that the Sony HX20V is feature-laden advanced compact capable of producing good images, it’s not without it’s flaws. The model’s lens could be better specified, while the lack of Raw capture is a disappointment – two key features when considering a compact nearing the £300 mark