One of the best "H" cameras from Sony
I've had the Hx100v for several months now. At first, I didn't know if I'd take advantage of the 30-day return period or keep the thing. It wasn't a very big investment, especially compared to my Nikon D7000 and bag full of lenses!
I was initially disappointed when I pixel-peeped my first efforts. As always, Sony's noise reduction and sharpening are both a bit heavy-handed, and not all that effective. The sharpening left edge artifacts, but didn't particularly sharpen the image. I considered sending the camera back.
Then, I took some nature shots at a local botanical garden and was truly amazed at the detail this camera captured. I also shot with the D7000 (also a 16mp camera) and could get to the same point but only with some serious sharpening in Photoshop CS5.
I've printed up to 9X12 with no artifacts showing and the detail is lovely to behold. I sold some of the Hx100 shots in a recent outdoor exhibit and they were greatly admired.
The video is just superb. It's quite amazing. There simply is no need for a stand-alone video camera if you have the Hx100. At first, I had trouble finding the files on the memory card, but a little diligent sleuthing turned them up, and they ran wonderfully on all my PC video players, including Windows Media Player and VLC Player.
One note about resolution. Sony went all the way here with their 1080i resolution and 60fps performance. But I've been doing a lot of video over the last few years, and decided early-on that 1080i was not good for me, and 60 fps unnecessary, so I dialed the video back to 720p. The reason is, I still burn my videos to DVD, which has a native resolution of only 854/480, so what would I do with the highest res video? Can't burn 60fps to blu-ray, either. So while it's great to view out of the camera, it's fairly useless otherwise. At least to me. Furthermore, not everyone I share DVD videos with has a blu-ray player available. In fact, I don't have one on my main workstation.
It seems to me that Sony's video is a bit ahead of its time, but the quality is, nonetheless, superb.
The lens is brilliant. Back to a super-high-quality Carl Zeiss design. Wonderful detail, color, saturation and dynamic range (surprising in such an inexpensive camera). My only complaint is that the amazing zoom range caused the minimum focus distance to extend to around 8' (no matter what the specs say). Therefore, it's really hard to get telephoto macros with nice bokeh since you can't get close enough. I've gotten the third-party filter adapter and used the Sony 3.3X closeup lens, but have yet to find the right combinations of zoom and distance-to-subject to get good bokeh. I'm working on it.
As for high ISO, I simply do not go over ISO 400. At higher ISOs, the noise reduction and artifacts get really ugly, and this was my greatest disappointment as the rear-illuminated sensor was supposed to improve this dramatically. It didn't. I suspect it's all those millions of tiny pixels on such a small sensor. On the other hand, hand-held twilight mode does take some remarkably clean pictures.
I haven't tried all the modes, but iAuto didn't work for me at all - pictures came out too dark, too light, or blurry at that setting. Manual and Aperture-Priority, I found, work really well.
All in all, I recommend this camera highly. If nothing else, it's just simply huge fun to shoot with and requires much less effort and guesswork than my DSLRs. It lets me concentrate on the subject instead of the camera! What more can you ask?
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