Body & Design
The Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is a fairly large super zoom camera. The body is mostly composite (read: plastic), though the frame is still pretty solid. The HX200V has a very large right hand grip, giving it a secure feel in your hands. The mode dial feels a bit cheap, and turns too easily, and the door over the memory card slot is flimsy.
The camera has more than its share of buttons (in various locations), but thankfully they usually serve just one function. One nice feature on the camera is the ring around the lens barrel. This ring can electronically control either zoom or manual focus, and it works quite well, and gives the camera a more upscale feel. You wouldn't expect a high-end super zoom to come in pink, and it doesn't - black only.
As you'd expect, the HX200V's 30X zoom lens has an optical image stabilization system (which Sony calls SteadyShot), which reduces the risk of blurry photos in low light, or at the telephoto end of the lens. In movie mode, an "active" IS feature further reduces shake in your videos, with the ability to reduce motion in three directions, including rotational.
Behind the lens is an 18.2 Megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, which Sony brands "Exmor R". This is the highest resolution sensor that you'll find in a compact camera, and we'll see how the image quality looks later in the review. Directly above the lens is the camera's pop-up flash, which is released electronically (well, you can pry it up if you really want). The working range of the flash is 0.3 - 12.4 m at wide-angle and 2.0 - 5.9 m at telephoto -- very impressive numbers. One thing you cannot do on the HX200V is add an external flash. The only other thing to see on the front of the camera is the AF-assist lamp, which is located to the lower-left of the Sony logo. This lamp also illuminates when the self-timer or Smile Shutter features are being used.
|One of the advantages of an EVF design over an optical viewfinder is the amount of information that can be included in the live view screen. Here you can see all sorts of information, including GPS status and a live histogram.|
The LCD on the back of Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is very nice. This three inch display has over 921,000 pixels, so everything is ridiculously sharp. I found outdoor visibility to be very good. On the other hand, low light viewing isn't great, as the screen doesn't "gain up" very much. The HX200V also comes equipped with an electronic viewfinder, or EVF. This viewfinder is average in terms of quality. It's not very large (0.2"), nor is the resolution (201k pixel) very high. If you've used one of the XGA viewfinders on some of Sony's other cameras, the difference is glaring. Still, it'll get the job done for most folks.
Now let's take a look at how the HX200V compares to other super zooms in terms of size and weight:
|Camera||Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions)||Volume (bulk)||Mass (empty)|
|Canon PowerShot SX40 HS||4.8 x 3.6 x 4.2 in.||72.6 cu in.||557 g|
|Fujifilm FinePix HS25EXR||5.1 x 3.6 x 5.0 in.||91.8 cu in.||636 g|
|Kodak EasyShare Max Z990||4.9 x 3.4 x 3.7 in.||61.6 cu in.||589 g|
|Nikon Coolpix P510||4.8 x 4.1 x 3.3 in.||64.9 cu in.||555 g|
|Olympus SP-810UZ||4.2 x 3.0 x 2.9 in.||36.5 cu in.||413 g|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150||4.9 x 3.2 x 3.7 in.||58 cu in.||484 g|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V||4.8 x 3.43 x 3.66 in.||65.2 cu in.||531 g|
I have to admit that I was expecting the HX200V to be near the top of the chart for dimensions and weight, but it turns out to be about average for both. It's certainly not a jeans pocket camera, though it should fit in most jacket pockets, or over your shoulder.