Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V Review
Performance & Image Quality
The Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is no slouch in the performance department. It's one of the most responsive super zoom cameras I've used. The table below summarizes its performance:
|Timing||Measured Performance||How it Compares|
|1.9 sec||Above average|
|Autofocus (Wide-angle)||0.1 - 0.3 secs||Above average|
|Autofocus (Telephoto)||0.6 - 0.9 secs||Above average|
|Autofocus (Low light)||0.8 - 1.0 secs||Above average|
|Shutter lag||Not noticeable||Above average|
|Shot-to-shot (no flash)||~ 1 sec||Above average|
|Shot-to-shot (with flash)||~ 3 sec||Average|
The only time you're really spend waiting on the HX200V is when it's combining multiple exposures, and even that doesn't take long.
After all of the multi-shot features that I've covered in this review, you can probably guess that the DSC-HX200V is going to be pretty quick when you put it in burst mode. There are two speeds to choose from in burst mode: low and high. Here's what kind of performance you'll get in both of those modes:
|Image quality||Low speed||High speed|
|Large/Fine JPEG||10 shots @ 2.0 fps||10 shots @ 10.0 fps|
|Tested with a SanDisk Class 10 SDHC card|
It's no surprise that the HX200V's continuous shooting buffer fills up after ten shots at the high speed setting. I was, however, disappointed to see that the 2 fps speed had the same shot limit -- I was expecting it to just keep going.
Let's move on to photo quality now, shall we?
|Photos are taken under indirect lighting provided by two Smith-Victor Q80 lamps at a focal length of 40mm (equivalent) and an aperture of f/3.9.|
Now it's time for our studio ISO test. Since the lighting is always the same, you can compare these with other cameras I've reviewed over the years. Super zoom shoppers may want to open up the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 reviews right about now (though I have a quick comparison at the end of this section). Keeping in mind that the crops below represent only a tiny portion of the HX200V's huge photos, let's travel from ISO 100 to 12800:
There isn't a huge difference between the first three ISO sensitivity settings, with noise levels increasing gradually as the sensitivity goes up. Detail loss becomes more evident at ISO 800, and you get grain-style noise appearing one stop higher. It's at this point (ISO 1600) that I'd probably stop raising the sensitivity. The ISO 3200 shot has quit ea bit of noise, as well as a drop in color saturation. As with the night shots, the top two sensitivities are unusable, despite the camera's multi-shot layering trick.
I want to throw in a quick comparison of how the HX200V compares against the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150. Here's how the three cameras look at ISO 800 (100% crops)
|Canon PowerShot SX40 - ISO 800|
|Panasonic DMC FX150 - ISO 800|
As you can see, the HX200V is probably the best in this particular bunch. In real world shooting though, I think the Canon and Panasonic have a lot less detail smudging than the Sony, though that blends away in most situations.
|This scene was shot from a fixed position using a tripod at at a focal length of 123mm (equivalent). Exposure was automatic in aperture priority mode at f/4.5, and image stabilization was turned off.|
The night test scene turned out quite well. You can take long exposures either with the camera's manual controls, or by using either of the Auto modes. The HX200V took in plenty of light here, though you will encounter some highlight clipping in places. The buildings are sharp, though there is some detail loss due to the large amount of noise reduction being applied. That said, the detail loss (and noise in general) isn't a whole lot worse than super zooms with lower resolution sensors. Purple fringing levels are moderate.
Let's use this scene now to see how the HX200V performs at high sensitivities in low light:
There isn't a huge difference between the photos taken at ISO 100 and 200. At ISO 400 there's pretty noticeable detail loss, so I'd make this your stopping point, saving ISO 800 for desperation only. The ISO 1600 and 3200 crops are mostly noise, and things really go downhill at ISO 6400 and 12800, where the camera tries some multi-shot layering (which didn't help, evidently).
The HX200V has an auto macro mode, so there's no button to push in order to take close-up photos. The minimum focus distance is 1 cm at wide-angle, and 2 m at full telephoto.
|Straight out of the camera (flash redeye reduction on)|
|After removal tool in playback mode|
Despite having a pop-up flash, the HX200V has redeye problems. If you've got face detection turned on, the camera will automatically fire the flash a few times to shrink your subject's pupils (you can force this, as well). As the first image illustrates, that didn't do any good. Thankfully, there's a digital redeye removal tool in playback mode which got rid of that annoyance.
There's remarkably little barrel distortion at the wide end of the HX200V's lens. That's because the camera (along with most others) digitally reduces this phenomenon when the photo is taken. I didn't find corner blurring to be a problem -- not a lens problem, at least. Vignetting, or dark corners, was not an issue, either.
Overall Image Quality
Overall, the Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V's image quality is good, as long as you don't look too closely. Exposure was generally accurate, though the camera had a slight tendency to underexpose. As with all compact cameras, highlight clipping reared it's ugly head, but it wasn't too bad on the HX200V. Colors are nice and vibrant -- no complaints there. Image sharpness is a mixed bag, and really depends on what you're looking at. Some objects are nice and sharp, while anything with fine details is smudged by noise reduction. That's really the camera's biggest problem, and not entirely surprising given its 18 Megapixel resolution. Things like grass, leaves, hair, and sand are most likely to have mushy details -- even at ISO 100. Detail loss can also be found in the shadowy areas of a photo.
While I'm going to knock the HX200V for this, I should point out that for the vast majority of people, this will not be an issue. If you're making prints at 8 x 10 or smaller, odds are that you won't see any detail loss until the ISO gets pretty high. The same is true if you're just downsizing the photos for Facebook or Flickr. If you're making large prints or viewing the images on your computer at 100%, then you'll certainly notice what's going on. Other cameras produce images that look cleaner at 100% than the DSC-HX200V, but for most uses, that won't matter a whole lot. The only other issue of note is purple fringing -- the HX200V has more of this phenomenon than I would've liked.
|One issue which can marr images taken using the HX200V is purple fringing around high-contrast edges. It's not always too intrusive but can be very obvious on occasion.||100% Crop|
Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, maybe printing a few of the images if you can, and then you can make your own decision about the DSC-HX200V's image quality!
|Demolition by Dutch Newchurch|
from Your City - Demolition
|Antz by Deadfisheye|
from Animated Film Title
|Beautiful Kyoto's girl in Kimono by Fuji san|
from Miss Japan
|All pink by Minas_Eye|
|Jaguar Hood Ornament by edandgini|
from J is for ...
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