Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V Review
Conclusion - Pros:
- Good photo quality for target audience
- Packs a 20X zoom lens into a compact body
- Optical image stabilization, with 3-way 'active mode' for movies
- Super-sharp 3-inch LCD display
- Very snappy performance, especially autofocus
- Good set of manual controls, which include white balance fine-tuning and bracketing
- Two 'intelligent' auto modes pick the scene mode for you
- Built-in GPS with compass
- Anti Motion Blur and Handheld Twilight modes produce usable photos in very low light situations
- HDR feature dramatically improves image contrast
- Fun sweep panorama feature (now with high res option), works in 2D and 3D
- Continuous shooting as fast as 10 frames/second
- Helpful in-camera guide
- Records Full HD video at 1080/60p with stereo sound and use of optical zoom, continuous AF, and image stabilizer
- Best-in-class battery life
Conclusion - Cons:
- Lots of detail smudging, even at ISO 100
- Tends to underexpose; highlight clipping can be an issue at times
- Redeye a problem, though it can be removed in playback mode
- Only two apertures to choose from at any one time; no shutter or aperture priority modes, or RAW support
- No manual controls in movie mode
- Ten shot limit in burst mode, even at 2 frames/sec
- Design annoyances: custom button hard to reach, controls on back of camera are small and cramped, no room for fingers when flash is raised, USB port on bottom of camera, memory card slot inaccessible when using tripod
- Internal battery charger is slow, prevents you from charging a spare
- Deafening 'beep' sound when buttons are pressed (it can be turned off)
- Full manual only available on the Internet (!)
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V is a very good travel zoom camera that offers a great selection of auto modes, some very useful bells and whistles, limited manual controls, blazing performance, and 1080/60p video recording. If you're not 'pixel peeping' or making giant prints, then you'll likely be satisfied by the image quality, as well. The HX20V is compact, well built, and easy to hold. While most controls are well-placed, pressing the custom button requires a bit of a stretch, and the buttons and dials on the back of the camera are small and cramped. I can't say I'm thrilled with the location of the USB port (on the bottom of the camera) or the lack of finger space when the flash is popped up, either. The HX20V features a 20X Sony G lens, which covers a nice range of 25 - 500 mm. Naturally, the camera has optical image stabilization, including an 'active' mode for extra shake reduction in movies. On the back of the camera you'll find a beautiful 3-inch LCD display, whose 921k pixels make it nice and sharp. Both outdoor and low light visibility are average. Another big part of the camera is its built-in GPS receiver. There's no database of landmarks or maps, but the GPS gets the job done fairly well.
The DSC-HX20V is fully loaded with features - especially on the point-and-shoot side of the spectrum. You've got a pair of 'intelligent' auto modes, including one which will use multiple exposures to produce sharper photos with less noise than you'd get otherwise. If you want to learn about a certain feature on the camera, or how to take a certain kind of photo, then you'll love the built-in help guide. Some other automatic features that I enjoy using are sweep panorama, high dynamic range (HDR), and the Anti Motion Blur / Handheld Twilight combo. Fans of people pictures will also enjoy the Smile Shutter and face self-timer features, as well. The manual control story isn't quite as exciting. While you can adjust exposure (though there are no 'priority' modes - just full manual), white balance (including fine-tuning and bracketing), and focus, you are limited to two aperture choices at any one time (due to the camera's use of a ND filter). The HX20V has an impressive movie mode, with the ability to record at 1080/60p with stereo sound, continuous autofocus, and use of both the optical zoom and image stabilizer. No manual controls are available in movie mode, though you can adjust the mic level and turn on a wind filter.
Camera performance is among the best of any travel zoom on the market. The camera starts up in 1.4 seconds, which is average, and after that, it's off to the races. The camera focuses extremely quickly, whether at wide-angle or telephoto, good light or poor. Shutter lag wasn't an issue, and shot-to-shot speeds ranged from a brief 1 second without the flash, to 3 seconds with it. The HX20V is capable of continuous shooting as rates of 2 or 10 frames/second. The bad news is that it's only for ten shots - even at the slower of the two frame rates. Like most of Sony's cameras, the DSC-HX20V's battery life is very good - best-in-class, in fact.
Photo quality is what needs the most work on the Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V. Starting off with exposure, the camera tends to underexpose by about 1/3 of a stop. It also clips highlights at times, though that's pretty common on compact cameras. Colors look good, both inside our studio and out in the real world. Subjects are sharp at first glance, but if you look closer, you'll see that noise reduction has smudged fine details and given low contrast areas a mottled appearance - even at ISO 100. Things stay pretty steady through the middle of the sensitivity range, but you'll definitely want to avoid the highest ISOs. If you're inspecting photos at 100% on your computer screen, then you'll certainly notice the effects of all that noise reduction. However, I figure that the average buyer of the HX20V will probably be downsizing their photos for web sharing or making 'normal sized' prints. When you do either of those, the noise tends to blend away. One thing that won't go away when you downsize images is redeye. You will run into this annoyance on the camera, though thankfully there's a tool to remove it in playback mode. Purple fringing levels were relatively low.
Overall, I enjoyed using the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V, and had the same response to it as I did to the HX200V super zoom. It's a responsive, fun-to-use camera with some genuinely useful extra features (HDR, Anti Motion Blur, Sweep Panorama), a decent set of manual controls, and a top-notch movie mode. It'll never win awards for its photo quality, though it's super high resolution means that downsized photos look very good. If you're looking for a GPS-equipped travel zoom camera, then the HX20V is well worth considering.
Some other GPS-equipped travel zoom cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS, Fuji FinePix F770EXR, Nikon Coolpix S9300, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20, and Samsung WB850F. If you can live without the GPS, the Olympus SZ-31MR, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS15, and the Pentax Optio VS20 may also be worth a look.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V
Category: Travel Zoom Compact Camera
Ergonomics & handling
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Movie / video mode
The Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V features great automatic shooting modes (plus limited manual controls), several gimmicky-sounding features that are actually useful, a GPS that works quietly in the background, and 1080/60p movie mode. Image quality isn't class leading when viewed full size, but the HX20V's target audience probably won't be doing much of that.
- Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20/TZ30 Review
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS15/TZ25 Review
- Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Review
- Compact Camera Group Test: Travel Zooms (2011)
About Jeff Keller
Jeff Keller is the Founder and Publisher of the Digital Camera Resource Page. When it was created in 1997, DCResource was the first digital camera news and review site on the Internet. Jeff's love of gadgetry introduced him to digital cameras in the mid-90's, from which his passion for photography developed. Jeff runs DCResource from his home in Oakland, CA, and is often found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a bag full of cameras.
Jul 21, 2012
Feb 28, 2012
Jul 20, 2015
Jul 17, 2015
|Douaumont Ossuary by Eric 54-BNF|
from Armistice Day
|Silhouette at sunset by Jill Hancock|
from Portrait Lens (around 80mm or equivalent - please check the full rules)
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear ain't fly? You gotta hit us up and read our treat yo' self guide.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.