Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V Review
The Sony CyberShot DSC-HX9V is the best travel-zoom camera that we've reviewed to date, taking on and beating the market-leading Panasonic DMC-TZ20. The HX9V offers a compelling mix of advanced features, excellent still image quality, and a class-leading video mode, all at a price that is competitive with its main rivals.
The move to a 16 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 10 megapixel HX5 offered. The 16 megapixel backlit sensor provides excellent results from ISO 100-800, with only the fastest settings of 1600 and 3200 suffering from too much noise and smearing of fine detail. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled and colours accurate, and the extended 24-384mm lens commendably doesn't suffer from too much distortion at either end of the zoom range.
The Manual 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. If you don't want to use a tripod, the Hand-held Twilight mode also delivers great results at night, albeit with an increase in noise levels. Sony's ever popular Sweep Panorama mode now offers an impressive 42.9 megapixel high resolution mode, while the Backlight Correction HDR feature dramatically increases the detail in the shadow and highlight areas. Beginners shouldn't be scared off the HX9V either, as Sony's excellent hand-holding Intelligent Auto modes are as effective as the competition's.
In addition to the excellent still images, the Sony HX9V is one of the very few digital compacts to offer full 1080p video recording, gaining the upper hand on its key rivals. You can use the 16x zoom during recording, sound is stereo rather than mono, and the AVCHD format ensures that file sizes don't get 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, 0.1 second auto-focusing and the much improved 921K dot LCD screen, and it's easy to recommend the Sony CyberShot DSC-HX9V above all of its travel-zoom rivals. Essential!
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4.5|