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Sony DSC-HX1 Review

April 2009 | By Don Wan

2009 is already shaping up to be another bumper year for the superzoom 'bridge' camera. Since the publication of our superzoom test at the start of this year there have been a number of new models released with new features such as bigger zooms, better video and fast burst modes. Sony's entry in this category, the HX1, features a 20x lens (that extends from 28mm at the wide end all the way to 560mm at the telephoto end), HD video recording, a large 3' tilting LCD screen, up to 10 frames per second continuous shooting speeds, and special shooting modes that help you get better pictures easier. All this built around an all-new CMOS sensor.

Until recently, almost all compact (small sensored) cameras were built around CCD sensors. This is because CMOS sensors have more circuitry built into the chip than CCD sensors and, with less room for actually capturing light, noise and noise reduction issues will have a detrimental effect on image quality.

Manufacturers have been working on these problems with CMOS sensors for a number of years in DSLR cameras, where all but the cheapest models feature CMOS sensors. Canon, which has been at the forefront of this CMOS sensor development, released the CMOS-sensored SX1 IS which we reviewed last month. Given Sony's heavy involvement in the sensor design and fabrication industry it is not surprising that it has followed suit with the CMOS based HX1.

While the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS utilizes its CMOS sensor to record 1080p (30fps) HD video, a fast 4fps continuous shooting speed, and offers RAW file recording, the HX1 uses its CMOS technology in some less conventional ways. The first of these is a super fast (as fast as the top end professional sports cameras) 10 fps continuous shooting. This relies not only on the sensor's speedy processing but also on a fast physical shutter, which in turn enables three unique shooting modes: Sweeping panorama (which stitches panoramas together as you shoot), Anti Motion Blur (which takes 6 images, and combines them to try and minimise the amount of blur in an image) and Twilight mode (which uses 6 stacked images to reduce the noise produced in images shot in low light situations).

While the HX1 may not feature RAW file recording, there are many manual settings such as three noise reduction settings, many white balance settings, a full range of manual modes, and many others for the photographer who wants ultimate control. Does this combine to make a compelling package that should command your money? Lets find out in our review.

Sony DSC-HX1 vs DSC-H50- key changes

  • New 28 - 560 mm equiv 'G' lens
  • Ultra fast 10 fps continuous shooting speed
  • HD movie recording at up to 1440x1080 at 30 fps
  • Intelligent Auto mode
  • Unique sweeping panorama, twilight, and anti-shake modes
  • A revised menu system (Home menu is gone)
  • HDMI port
 

Sony DSC-HX1

Sony DSC-H50
Sensor

• 1/2.4 " Type CMOS
• 9.1 million effective pixels

• 1/2.3 " Type CCD
• 9.1 million effective pixels

Maximum Image Size 3456 x 2592 3456 x 2592
Lens • 28-560mm equiv.(4:3), 31-620mm (16:9)
• 20x Optical zoom
• F2.8-8.0(W)-5.2-8.0(T)

• 31-465mm equiv.
• 15x Optical zoom
• F2.7-8.0(W)-5.2-8.0(T)

Video Recording HD Up to 1440x1080 30fps Up to VGA (640x480) 30 fps
Sensitivity

• Auto
• ISO 125-3200

• Auto
• ISO 80-3200
Special Scene Modes Sweeping Panorama, Twilight, Anti-Shake, None
LCD screen

• Tilting
• 230,000 pixels
• 3.0 inch TFT LCD

• Tilting
• 230,000 pixels
• 3.0 inch TFT LCD
Continuous shooting max 10 fps max 1.6 fps
Weight (no batteries) 514g (18.1oz.) 547g (19.3 oz)
Other HDMI output

Sony DSC-HX1 specifications

Price • UK: £429.99
• US: $499.95
Sensor

• 1/2.4" Exmor CMOS Sensor
• 9.1 million effective pixel

Image sizes

• 3456 x 2592
• 3456 x 2304
• 3456 x 1944
• 3648 x 2056
• 2048 x 1536
• 1920 x 1080
• 640 X 480

Image sizes
(Panorama)
• 7152 x 1080
• 4912 x 1080
• 4912 x 1920
• 3424 x 1920
Movie clips • 1440 x 1080 (30fps)
• 1280 x 720 (30fps)
• 640x480 (30fps)
File formats

• Still Image : JPEG (EXIF 2.2), DPOF v1.1, DCF v2.0, MPF baseline
• Movie Clip : mp4, MPEG4

Lens

• Sony G lens
• 13 elements in 10 groups (including 1 ED and 1 Aspheric element)
• 28-560mm equiv.(4:3), 31-620mm (16:9)
• 20x Optical zoom
• f = 5.0-100.0mm
• F2.8-8.0(W)-5.2-8.0(T)

Conversion lenses Yes, Tele:VCL-HD1757 (Optional)
Digital zoom Approx. 40x
Image Stabilization Optical SteadyShot
Focus

9 points / Center Weighted AF / Flexible Spot / Semi-Manual / Manual

AF area modes Intelligent
Focus Mode • Multi
• Center
• Flexible Spot
Focus distance

• Normal :W:Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T:Approx.150cm(4.92') to Infinity
• Macro: W: Approx.1cm(0.03') to Infinity, T:Approx.150cm(4.92') to Infinity

ISO sensitivity

• Auto
• ISO 125
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200

Metering modes • Multi
• Center
• Spot
Shutter speed • Auto(2 sec- 1/4,000)
• Program Auto(1 sec- 1/4,000)
• Aperture Priority(8 sec- 1/2,000)
• Manual(30" - 1/4,000)
Aperture • Auto (F2.8./F8.0(W),
• Program auto (F2.8/F8.0(W)
• Manual( F2.8/F8.0(W)
Shooting modes

• Mode dial: Intelligent Auto, P Auto, easy, SCN, movie, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
• Scene: High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight portrait, Landscape, Snow, Beach, Fire works, Sports, gourmet, Sports, handheld Twilight, Anti-Motion Blur, Sweep Panorama

White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Fluorescent 1 (White Fluorescent)
• Fluorescent 2 (Natural White Fluorescent)
• Fluorescent 3 (Day White Fluorescent)
• Incandescent
• Flash
• Custom

Self timer • Off
• 10sec
• 2sec
Continuous Shooting 10.0 fps / 5 fps / 2 fps (10 shots max)
Flash

• Modes :Auto, Flash On, Slow Sync, Flash Off
• Red Eye Reduction : Auto, On, Off
• Range : ISO Auto: Approx.0.3-Approx.9.2m(W) Approx.1.5-Approx.5.1m (T)

Viewfinder • 0.2 inch
• approx. 201K pixels
LCD monitor

• 3.0 inch TFT LCD
• approx. 230,400 pixels

Digital input/output

• USB 2.0 High Speed
• Multi-use terminal Type2d

Microphone / Speaker Stereo / Mono
Video output • HD(1080i) - HDMI
• Composite
• NTSC/ PAL
Storage • Internal memory (Approx. 11 MB)
• Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/ Pro HG Duo
Power InfoLITHIUM H type 6.8V
Weight (no batt) Approx. 514g (18.1oz.)
Dimensions 115mm x 83mm x 92mm
(4 5/8" x 3 3/8" x 3 5/8")


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2009 dpreview.com and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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