With 720p HD video recording, is the Sony Cyber-shot H20 a step ahead of the superzoom pack? The What Digital Camera Sony H20 review tests it out...
Sony Cyber-shot H20 Review
Sony Cyber-shot H20 – Features
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20 is a 10 megapixel compact camera poised at the superzoom end of the market. It’s 10x optical zoom provides ample focal length for picking off subjects from afar, although with only 38mm of coverage at its widest point doesn’t push into the superwide superzoom territory.
There is a secret weapon on the feature front too – the HD 720p movie recording function is, whilst becoming a more commonplace feature on many stills cameras, something that’s not widely available as yet. Sony, being the domineering electronics giant it is, is certainly pushing promotion of HD products.
A manual mode features alongside programme auto (P) for more demanding image makers, with an abundance of scene modes following suit. ‘Easy’ mode and ‘intelligent scene selection’ also add an extra layer of performance by taking the need to think about the controls out of your hands – these modes judge the lighting conditions to select all the appropriate shooting settings for the scene at hand. So there’s functionality for first time users as well as those more demanding, experienced users.
Enhanced Face Detection – including a Smile Shutter option and Face Motion Detection to up the ISO and ensure a faster shutter to keep faces crisply exposed without the blur of any movement – finish the package.
Sony Cyber-shot H20 – Design
The Sony H20, given it’s large 10x optical zoom range, is relatively slender. Some more significant superzooms are of a considerably larger size, but the H20 maintains the sort of size to slip into a bag or, if you’ve got some baggy jeans, perhaps a pocket too. This makes it a very transportable camera given it’s not much chunkier than a lot of compacts on the market.
The H20 body itself is finished in black (and black only) with some silver-coloured trimmings, and has a rubberized grip to assist with holding firmly. The finish is generally rather plasticy, though the construction is rigid, so it feels like a well made bit of kit considering. Even with the lens at full extension the camera never feels flimsy.
Control-wise the Cyber-shot H20 has a number of knobs and buttons to get your hands on. On top of the camera is the standard W/T zoom control, next to a silver thumbwheel to select shooting mode. It’s easy to flick between shooting modes – from Manual to Movie and the like – with a quick rotation. As Face Detection is such a strong feature as part of the H20, it gets a whole ‘smiley’ button all to itself too, to enable quick and easy adjustment of face-based settings. On the back is the 230,000 dot 3in LCD screen to the left, with standard d-pad, menu, playback and trash buttons not straying too far from a comprehensive and usual layout.
The H20’s in-camera menu system is quickly accessed using the ‘menu’ button on the back of the camera. All options appear in a vertical strip to the left, which when selected, reveal their options across the screen. This can make for a lot of d-pad bashing, but successfully breaks down the categories to click in and out of options quickly enough (the last option corrected is the one you will return to upon accessing the menu once again). Menu options differ from mode to mode too, so you’re not overburdened with options that can only be used in Manual when in Easy mode, for example. This helps to keep things that extra bit stream-lined.
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