Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V Review

July 9, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |


The Sony CyberShot DSC-HX20V is a more capable and more refined version of our favourite travel-zoom camera from 2011, the HX9V, with a longer lens, higher resolution and extra features helping to maintain Sony's lead over the competition in this ultra-competitive part of the camera market.

The move to a headline-grabbing 18 megapixel sensor may elicit groans amongst more experienced photographers, but in reality Sony have been able to maintain the excellent image quality that the previous 16 megapixel HX9V offered. The 18 megapixel backlit sensor provides excellent results from ISO 100-800, with only the fater settings of 1600 and 3200 suffering from too much noise and smearing of fine detail. You should ignore 6400 and 12800 though unless there's really no alternative. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled and colours accurate, and the 20x 25-500mm lens commendably doesn't suffer from too much distortion at either end of the mammoth zoom range.

The Manual shooting mode lets you set a shutter speed of up to 30 seconds for effective night-time shooting, although I missed the Aperture and Shutter Priority modes that several rivals offer, and only having two possible apertures in Manual mode does somewhat limit what you can achieve creatively. Less expereinced beginners shouldn't be scared off the HX20V either, as Sony's excellent hand-holding Intelligent Auto modes are as effective as the competition's, while the new Photo Creativity menu lets you experiment with the camera's core settings without having to know all the photography jargon.

In addition to the excellent still images, the Sony HX20V also offers full 1080p video recording, and you can even take a high-res still whilst shooting your movie masterpiece. You can use the full 20x zoom during recording, sound is stereo rather than mono, and the AVCHD format ensures that file sizes don't get too out of control. The built-in GPS also works well, unobtrusively and reliably recording your every movement, although the camera takes a few minutes to sync with one or more satellites and the battery life is reduced by around 25% if you leave it constantly switched on.

Add in the 3D Sweep Panoramas and 3D Still Images, amazing 10fps burst shooting mode, 0.13 second auto-focusing, closer macro mode, extensive range of in-camera Picture effects and the high-resolution 921K dot LCD screen, and it's still easy for us to recommend the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX20V above all of its travel-zoom rivals. Essential!

5 stars

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