Conclusion - Pros
- Good image quality for its class with pleasing colors and contrast
- Extremely versatile zoom range
- Excellent video quality and stereo microphone
- Good ergonomic handling experience with well-placed external control points
- Generally good metering and accurate WB
- Reliable AF performance for its class
- Impressive flash power for its class
- Well-implemented HDR, anti-blur and panorama scene modes
- Articulated LCD screen
- Eye sensor that switches automatically between EVF and LCD view
Conclusion - Cons
- Slow startup time
- Sluggish operational speed
- Cannot adjust placement of the zoom area in MF magnification mode
- Self-timer cancelled after each exposure
- Color mode options not available when shooting video
There is a lot to like about the HX100V. Its 30x optical zoom lens, which covers 27-810mm (equivalent) is incredibly versatile, the camera feels great in the hand, is comfortable to use and its 16MP sensor provides image quality which, at most ISO sensitivity settings compares well with the best of its competition. Especially impressive is the HX100V's video mode, which offers a maximum quality of 1080/60p from 60fps sensor output. In addition, as we've found with other recent Sony cameras, both compact and interchangeable lens models, high-speed modes like Backlight Correction HDR and Hand-held twilight work well and add real value to the camera.
The Achilles' heel of the HX100V is without a doubt, its slow operational performance. Its headlline fast framerate modes are exactly that - fast - but basic operations like reviewing images in playback and switching modes involve significant wait times that can easily mean the difference between capturing or missing that special moment.
While no compact camera sensor stands up very well to 100% screen views, the HX100V's 16MP sensor produces some of the better image quality you will find in this class of camera, particularly in moderate sized prints from images taken at medium to ISO settings. Colors are realistically rendered with pleasing contrast and saturation while auto WB works reasonably well in a range of natural light scenarios. The Steady-Shot optical image stabilization function works well for both still image and video capture, a benefit which is especially valuable at the long end of the HX100V's zoom, where without it, camera shake would inevitably ruin sharpness.
As you'd expect from a camera with a mini-DSLR form factor and styling, the HX100V is very comfortable to use. The camera's relatively light weight compared to an interchangeable lens model makes it a pleasure to carry on photo-taking excursions. Buttons and dials are generally well-placed and significantly larger than those found on more conventionally-sized compact cameras. The eye-sensor switches automatically between EVF and LCD views; a great time-saver, and the tilting LCD screen is very useful for shooting above your head or below waist-level.
The Final Word
The HX100V does so much right, in terms of specification, image quality and video output, but like its close relative the HX9, it is marred by slow operational speed. Of course, one could argue that for users who take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to exposure values, camera modes and menu settings, this doesn't matter too much. We're hard-pressed, however, to imagine a compact camera user who wouldn't like to quickly review what they've just shot; a process that involves quite a long wait even in single shot mode.
Relatively poor operational responsiveness is something that traditionally we'd expect from compact cameras compared to DSLRs, but the simple fact is that in this respect the HX100V compares poorly within its class. Compared to competitors like Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ150 the HX100V simply feels laggy. We're very disappointed to see this behavior continue in the HX1 series lineup as well as the HX9V, which we recently reviewed in our travel zoom roundup. While the HX100V's lens is impressive, and the camera itself is capable of producing lovely images the process of capturing them can be an exercise in frustration.
Ergonomics & handling
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Movie / video mode
Shooters looking for a DSLR-like handling experience with an EVF and a wide zoom range.
Not so good for
More experienced shooters who like to tweak settings between each shot. Those who prefer a small pocketable camera.
The HX100V combines abundant external control points, DSLR-style ergonomic handling and an extremely versatile 30x zoom range. Image quality is better than average for a compact-sized sensor. Unfortunately, the camera's slow startup time and sluggish operational response can lead to missed photo opportunities.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
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