Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V Review

April 17, 2012 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is a feature-packed super-zoom camera, offering a 30x, 27-810mm zoom lens, 18.2 megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, built-in GPS tracking complete with a compass, 1920x1080 50p Full HD video recording with stereo sound and HDMI output, and 3D Sweep Panoramas and 3D Still Images. Other key features of the well-appointed Sony HX200V include high-speed autofocusing (0.13 seconds), a tilting 3 inch LCD screen with 921,000-dots, 10fps burst shooting mode at full resolution, ISO range of 100-12800, Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode which cuts camera-shake while you're shooting handheld HD video, Intelligent Auto Plus, Superior Auto, Program and full Manual shooting modes, a range of Picture Effects and and support for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and Secure Digital cards. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is available in black for £479.00 / $479.99.

Ease of Use

Compact cameras with big zooms - the so-called travel camera category - are big business right now. Get the balance right and you’ve hit the so-called sales ‘sweet spot’. So it’s no surprise that the manufacturers seem to be battling each other for who can provide the longest lens reach, the biggest resolution (with minimal noise at higher ISOs), yet the smallest overall chassis. Sony’s new Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V isn’t a pocket model like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 by any means - it has instead, as with its predecessor the HX100V, taken its design cue from an entry-level DSLR or bridge camera. It’s one to be worn about the neck, slung over a shoulder - with strap provided for both purposes - or tucked in a suitable pocket of that rucksack. The optical zoom here is 30x, like its forebear, though the effective resolution has been boosted from 16.2 million to 18.2 million pixels. It features a 1/2.3-inch Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor.

In not being a fashion conscious pocket snapshot - despite being the flagship unit of Sony’s High Performance compact series - the HX200V, which also incorporates built-in GPS, has its shooting advantages; chiefly the grip is larger - large enough to squeeze three fingers comfortably around - the camera, when loaded with rechargeable battery and SD or Memory Stick Pro Duo card, is heavier, plus both these features help provide a steadier hold when shooting towards the telephoto end of the zoom. To further help prevent blurred shots in such circumstances and in low light, Sony has also provided optical ‘SteadyShot’ image stabilization.

The build and finish here is of high quality, with the all-black matt finish to the body and various DSLR-like dials and controls - not to mention both angle adjustable LCD and built in electronic viewfinder - on initial inspection lending it an impression of being a ‘serious’ enthusiasts’ model. While, as we’ll discover, there might be some features missing in that department, overall we prefer the look and feel of the HX200V to the same manufacturer’s entry level Alpha DSLRs; it’s less obviously plastic-y. The compact size also means that locating the right control is never a stretch for forefinger or thumb. Most of the features you want to access are literally at your fingertip, which of course makes for speedier overall operation. The only stumbling block may be, cough, the price. A price of £479 via Sony’s online store at the time of writing is the equal of an entry level amateur digital SLR and kit lens, if admittedly one with far less scope when it comes to available focal range. Overall dimensions are 121.6x86.6x93.3mm and the HX200V weighs a starter DSLR-like 531g.

The front of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is dominated by the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens, here boasting a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a focal range the equivalent of a wide angle (but not ‘ultra’ wide) 27mm to 810mm in 35mm film terms - suggesting serious ‘poke’ at the telephoto end and real suitability for those paparazzi style candid portraits at full zoom, as well as of course landscapes and group portraits at the wider end. The lens does offer the advantage of built-in anti shake and its maker claims this model features a refined gyro sensor - presumably, we hope, thereby making it more effective.

We also get an AF assist/self time lamp porthole top left of the lens - when viewing the camera front on. The barrel itself features a lens ring, which will hold real appeal for photographers who prefer to get hands on, as this not only controls the zoom - if you don’t want to use the compact camera-style lever that alternatively encircles the shutter release button - but can also be used to focus if flicking the switch at the side of the lens to ‘MF’ mode. So manual focusing and manual zooming on a consumer level ‘super zoom’ camera, that is less physically bulky than say Fuji’s Finepix HS20 and HS30 models (also 30x); that’s not to say it’s wholeheartedly better of course - for us the Fuji still has the edge for more precise manual focusing. On the Sony the zoom action is still motor driven, however you handle it.

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V
Front Rear

The top plate of the camera extends the HX200V’s sophisticated look and feel, with a chunky stereo microphone that looks like it’s been purloined from one of the company’s voice recorders sitting just behind the otherwise hidden raised flash. To the right of this, when looking down at the camera as you grip it in both hands, is a small button for swapping between use of the EVF and LCD, though there’s also an eye sensor next to the former, that switches the EVF on and the LCD off if it detects the pupil of your eye. Take your eye away and the LCD bursts back into life - a very fluid, natural process.

The next control along is the narrow lozenge shaped on/off button, with an embedded lamp that glows green when the camera is switched on, or orange if the battery is low and the unit is being recharged. Incidentally we don’t get a separate mains charger here. We get a mains lead, adapter and plug instead, meaning that the lithium ion pack is charged in-camera. When your battery is down, so is the camera therefore.

The Cyber-shot HX200V takes roughly two seconds to power up, lens extending a little beyond its protective housing to arrive at maximum wideangle setting while the image on the rear LCD pops into life. While slower than an actual DSLR, that’s respectable for this class of bridge camera, or super zoom.

The camera is commendably swift to determine focus and exposure - officially 0.13 seconds - green AF point/s highlighted in green on screen the very instant your finger presses down on the shutter release button and finds the half way point. Press down fully to take the shot and a full resolution 18 megapixel JPEG is committed to removable media card in just over two seconds - so respectably swift. Face detection/selection and tracking focus are also offered here as standard features, activated or de-activated via a press of the unmarked button at the centre of the Sony’s backplate command pad.

Keep a forefinger on the zoom lever that encircles the shutter release button and the HX200V powers through its 30x optical zoom range from wide angle to telephoto in a couple of seconds. Continue holding down the lever and it will continue zooming digitally to a 60x equivalent setting. If this option is taken the camera deploys the fantastically named Pixel Super Resolution technology that automatically enhances imagery to avoid the usual blocky appearance of conventional digital zooms. The alternative of course is to use the manual zoom ring as already mentioned, though this is slower to respond that using the zoom lever. However the upshot is that it’s slightly easier to arrive at more precise framing.

Next to the power button is a raised, ridged-edged shooting mode button with an action that is stiff enough to prevent the user accidentally slipping from one setting to the next in the thick of it. There are 11 options on this dial. We get the creative quartet of program, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual mode settings plus Sony’s now ubiquitous Sweep Panorama function, whereby the user pans through an arc as directed by the on-screen arrows - the resulting elongated shot automatically stitched together in camera. It’s both very effective and very easy to use.

Next to this setting we get a memory recall mode, which, as the camera describes in lieu of a manual not included with our production sample, recalls registered settings and resumes shooting. This feels slightly superfluous as we found the camera didn’t lose the previous settings when it was turned off and then switched back on again.

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V
Top Tilting LCD Screen

Also on the dial is a dedicated High Definition video mode for up to 1920x1080 pixels clips at 50 frames per second progressive capture, which complements the dedicated video record button top right of the backplate. While a press of the latter begins a recording despite the fact that you might have a stills shooting mode selected on the dial at the time, a pres of menu when in video mode and there are a variety of options at you disposal that confirm the HX200V as a jack of all trades, or, if you prefer, a capable all-in-one. Here we can not only adjust video resolution and vary the frame rate, but also switch from intelligent auto video recording to applying a specific scene modes, as we more usually can with stills photography. Video it seems is becoming more refined on digital cameras than the point and shoot video modes of old where all you could do was vary the resolution. Here there’s the ability to filter out external wind noise too. Another bonus is that full use of the optical zoom is provided in movie mode, as is automatic focus adjustment if you alter framing or swap subjects mid sequence.

This being a Sony camera we also expectedly find a 3D mode on the camera - with the ability to capture 3D stills or Sweep Panoramas as MPO files only viewable in the stereoscopic glory on a suitably equipped TV, or alternatively there is Sony’s Sweep Multi Angle mode which provides a lenticular print type view on the camera’s LCD screen, so at least you can get a 3D type effect in situ.

Scene modes are up next and there are 16 user selectable options on the HX200V, covering everything from the usual portraits - including a separate DSLR-style ‘background defocus’ option - to shooting landscapes by night and even handheld; pet, beach, snow and fireworks mode round out the more usual suspects.

Rounding off the shooting mode options here are both the scene and subject recognizing and thereby automatically adjusting Intelligent Auto mode, plus Superior Auto mode. The latter is, if you will, your in-camera version of Photoshop, adjusting images on the fly. This means that there is a little additional automatic processing happening in this mode, so it’s slower to get an image from capture to card than when shooting in, say, Program mode. But it is a welcome aid in trickier conditions such as low light and does allow the user to point and shoot rather than having to find and change the ISO setting manually. Incidentally the sensitivity range here is broad and stretches from ISO to ISO12800 with many incremental points in between. Our only moan is that we could have really done with a dedicated ISO button marked as such. There is a ‘custom’ button provided alongside the one for ‘focus’ just behind the shutter release on the top plate, but there’s a choice of dedicating this to auto exposure lock (AEL), white balance, the application of a ND (neutral density) filter, metering mode or switching on the smile shutter facility (as it sounds the camera shutter automatically firing when it detects a grinning goon in the frame).

With the shutter release button and the zoom lever that encircles it comfortably sloping forward at the top of the handgrip, that’s it for the HX200V’s top plate.

The back plate of the HX200V is unsurprisingly dominated by the tilting 3-inch, whopping 921k dot resolution LCD screen, which can be angled up or down, but not swung out through 180° so it sits alongside the body, like with a camcorder, or flips inward to face the body itself. This means that, whilst very useful in itself compared with a fixed monitor, it is best used for achieving those otherwise awkward low or high angle shots than anything more ambitious. The alternative as mentioned earlier is to use the EVF ranged directly above the LCD, though as this is both smaller and has a lower resolution (202k dots), we found it easy to overlook.

In terms of controls the back of the camera looks slightly sparse mainly due to the small dimensions of the actual buttons, though in fact most of the essentials are here. A dedicated playback button sits next to the previously mentioned movie button, while a DSLR-like jog dial sits alongside that, where it automatically falls under the thumb of the right hand as the camera is gripped. If you’re shooting in Program mode a press of this allows access to the likes of ISO, shooting speed and aperture value on screen, though we had to press quite hard and repeatedly to arrive on the settings required - each highlighted in turn - at which point a spin of the same dial is required to make alterations. It works, but requires a period of familiarization, and is more fiddly than simply selecting ISO speeds from an on-screen menu or toolbar.

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Speaking of toolbars, beneath the movie record button is one marked menu, a press of which summons a toolbar. This appears ranged to the left hand side of the screen. It’s here that we have access to the camera’s set up folders - surprisingly missing a function reset button but otherwise offering all the regulars - and the in-camera help guide, even though a dedicated button marked with a question mark is additionally provided for such a purpose. Also on the toolbar is a means of saving chosen settings to the Memory Recall mode provided on the top plate shooting dial, not one but two GPS settings, choosing between two Steadyshot options when recording video (‘standard’ or the stronger ‘Active’), fixing movie quality, deploying noise reduction, individually controlling sharpness, contrast and colour saturation (with ‘standard’ being the default setting), plus switching between the default ‘standard’ colour mode and vivid, ‘real’, or sepia toned options.

In addition, the intensity of the flash can be dialed up or dialed down, the sensitivity of the ‘smile shutter’ feature can likewise be altered to register a slight up-turn of the mouth or alternatively a big goofy grin, or the automatic feature turned off entirely. Furthermore we get three exposure and one white balance bracketing options, continuous burst shooting of either 10fps per second for up to 10 sequential shots or 2fps to the same number, plus selection of metering modes (multi segment, centre weighted or spot).

Continuing in this vein we’re also offered an auto ND filter option, with the ability to turn it off or alternatively have it always on. Still image size can of course also be adjusted via this same left-of-screen toolbar - with 18 megapixels in 4:3 aspect ratio being the top setting.

Lastly at the end of this exhaustive list we find a smattering of fun picture effect options. Here these comprise a painterly High Dynamic Range option, a chrome like rich-tone monochrome, the ubiquitous toy camera and miniature effects, pop art, soft high key, watercolour, and a funky illustration effect which provides a look akin to that designed by the artist Julian Opie for Blur’s Best Of album, only not quite as good, emphasizing subject outlines but smooth the detail therein. Still, with these riches it does feel Sony is spoiling us.

The familiar four-way control pad at the bottom right of the HX200V’s backplate features options for controlling the rear display, flash settings (with red eye reduction turned on or off via the menu screens), self timer (two or 10 seconds) plus, more unusually, bringing up some on-screen ‘photo creativity’ options if the user is shooting in one of the auto modes. Selecting this option on the pad, for example, allows users to darken or lighten the image by flicking the jog dial left or right. Colour can also be adjusted in the same manner and the picture effect options previously detailed can be flicked through via a virtual mode dial. It reminds us a lot of the Live Guide feature on Olympus Pen cameras; namely it allows newcomers to exert some personal control over the outcome of their shots without knowing anything about exposure values, aperture settings and so on, with adjustments shown on screen live and in real time before the shutter release button has even been pressed. Neat-o.

On either flank of the camera meanwhile is a lug for attaching the provided shoulder strap, while on the left hand flank there are two flip-open doors protecting the camera’s three ports. Here we get USB and HDMI output, plus a mains port for attaching the provided cable and mains charger. Incidentally battery life of the lithium ion cell inserted in the base of the handgrip is around 450-490 shots, which isn’t bad at all, even if we found ourselves recharging it a couple of times over our two week test period.

With a screw thread dead centre of the base plate this Cyber-shot certainly seems to have ticked most boxes. A degree of complexity is there for those who want it, but for those that don’t there’s the option to twist the top plate dial to Superior Auto, point and shoot and get a remarkably consistent performance. But how does the Sony DSC-HX200V perform when it comes to the real tester, image quality, across a range of scenarios? Read on and find out.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 18 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The inherent beauty of any super zoom camera is the ability to choose from a wide range of framing options, and photograph a broad range of subjects, without having to take a single step forward or back. Unfortunately most new product releases appear to be about impressive specification lists rather than impressive performances. Fortunately for the 30x optical capacity of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V, it’s not just an exercise in numbers however. Here the entirety of the focal range is actually useful in that we were able to achieve sharp results consistently from shot to shot when shooting handheld at maximum telephoto - a rare thing indeed. The performance at the telephoto end of most competing models is distinctly soft.

Conversely, at the extreme wideangle setting we did notice some slight fall-off towards the corners of the frame, though this is only visible if you’re looking for it and is subtle at best, as is the inevitable pixel fringing between areas of high contrast. Generally though, the HX200V acquits itself very well indeed, with bags of detail in every shot and good, even exposures too that manage to maintain both highlight and shadow detail. The result is that you will very rarely find yourself wanting to alter any of the results straight out of the camera in Photoshop or its ilk.

For shooting in low light, this Sony of course offers the impressively broad light sensitivity range option of captures between ISO100 and ISO12800 at top whack. You’ll want to stick at ISO3200 or below however if you want to avoid the effects of vigorous processing to keep image noise well under control. However at ISO 6400 we’d offer that results are still perfectly usable, so it appears this pushing of the spec is advantageous to the user rather than just a number to stick on the box.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is a super zoom camera that is actually not only a jack-of-all-trades, but also a master of most of them. Picture wise, there’s not a lot here to find fault with.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V's 30x zoom lens offers an incredibly versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft and ideally benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V are Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Syncro, No Flash, with a Red-eye Reduction option in the Main menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (27mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (810mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (810mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the Forced Flash setting or the Red-Eye Correction option caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night Shot

The Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds in the Manual mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 4 seconds at ISO 100. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V camera, which were all taken using the 18 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample video from the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V camera at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 50 frames per second. Please note that this 37 second movie is 118Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Front of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Isometric View

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Isometric View

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Rear of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Rear of the Camera / Tilting LCD Screen

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Rear of the Camera / Tilting LCD Screen

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Top of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Bottom of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Side of the Camera


Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Side of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Front of the Camera

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Rear of the Camera / Tilting LCD Screen

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V

Memory Card Slot

Sony CyberShot DSC-HX200V
Battery Compartment



Undoubtedly the biggest recommendation we have with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is that, by daylight, we were able to achieve sharp results shooting handheld with it with greater consistency than we have been able to achieve with pretty much any super zoom camera to date. The hand-held twilight mode selectable from within the scene modes also comes in very useful by night. Simply put, if you line up a trick-sy shot there is more chance of you actually pulling it off with this Sony, which many would agree is worth the admission price alone, even if it is a rather pricey £479.

OK, so there’s no ability to shoot raw files here which will be a deal breaker for some, but to be honest the results from the HX200V's JPEGs didn’t give us much cause, if any, to find fault. Though it might satisfy the enthusiast looking for a portable means of gaining some extra poke in the lens department as well as the family user who would like a wealth of framing options at their fingertips, this is after all a consumer level camera, and has to be rated as such. Fortunately then impressions are more favourable than not.

As an all in one with ‘DSLR lite’ style handling that really does offer most, if not all, of what you need - and delivers consistently high image quality - the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V takes some beating if a big zoom really is chief among your imaging requirements.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 4

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V from around the web. »

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V ($479) is a high-end super zoom camera that does just about everything imaginable. Whether you're talking about its built-in GPS, 360 degree panorama maker, 10 fps burst shooting, instant HDR photos, or 1080/60p videos, the HX200V has nearly every bell and whistle ever created. To top it off, it features the highest resolution sensor in a compact camera (18 Megapixel, which may or may not be a good thing) as well as one one of the most powerful zoom lenses (30X).
Read the full review »



Optical Zoom 30x
Clear Image Zoom 60x
Digital Zoom 18M Approx.120x / 10M Approx.161x / 5M Approx.226x / VGA Approx.459x / 13M(16:9) Approx.120x / 2M(16:9) Approx.306x
F F2.8(W)-5.6(T)
Focal Length (f= mm) 4.8-144
Focal Length (f=35mm conversion) 27-810
Macro (cm) iAuto:AF(W:Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T:Approx.200cm(6.56') to Infinity) / Program Auto:AF(W:Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T:Approx.200cm(6.56') to Infinity)
Filter Diameter (mm) NO
Conversion Lens compatibility NO
Carl Zeiss® lens YES
Sony G NO

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