A super-zoom that can compete with DSLR's
In the Field
One of the things most super-zoom fans like is their DSLR-like body design. Sony’s HX100V does a decent job of emulating a DSLR with its prominent rubbery grip, command wheel on the upper right of the camera back, and focus/zoom ring on the lens barrel. We like its design and found it comfortable to use. The focus ring on the lens feels sluggish next to most DSLR lenses; zoom action is better, though the loud whir of the motor might surprise you.
For photographers who are used to composing shots only on an LCD, an electronic viewfinder offers plenty of advantages. The one on the HX100V was about average—not as good as the EVF on Sony’s Alpha A55 DSLR.
To change shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, or ISO, you use the clickable command wheel on the camera back. Click once to get to the last setting accessed, and then again to cycle through to the next one you want. This can be a good way to control settings, but the wheel was a bit too hard to press and sometimes didn’t register. And its tactile feedback could be better—occasionally it clicks without changing setting.
Most other functions worked well. Face detection reliably finds faces, using them to set focus and metering. Intelligent Sweep Panorama shoots a long burst of images as you pan in one smooth motion, and stitches them together to create panoramas up to 1920x4912-pixels. While these are about one-half the height of the camera’s normal images, it’s the simplest way we’ve experienced to capture such wide panos.
You can make 3D panoramas the same way, and we found this the best of the Sony’s three methods of 3D capture. 3D Sweep Panorama typically yields images that show meaningful depth and occasionally seem to extend out of the screen toward the viewer, while 3D Still image capture creates a fake 3D effect by shooting two images in succession, giving results less oomph. Sweep Multi Angle can be played back on the camera by tilting and creating a 3D-like effect, again with less impressive results. You’ll need a 3D-enabled TV to view these 3D images.
Despite our few gripes, we still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the HX100V to someone interested in a superzoom camera. It offers a very pleasant shooting experience, image quality that’s impressive for its class, at a price that won’t break the bank.
IMAGING: 16.2MP effective 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor captures images at 4608x3456 pixels each, with 8 bits/color. No RAW capture.
STORAGE: SD/SDHC/SDXC/MemoryStick Duo stores JPEG or MPO (3D) files.
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs up to 10 shots at 10 fps with focus, white balance, and metering locked.
AF SYSTEM: TTL contrast detection with 9-point Multi-AF, centerweighted AF, and Flexible Spot AF selectable from center 45% of frame; Face Detection for up to 8 faces; subject tracking, although not between shots during bursts.
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/4000 to 30 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments).
METERING: 99-area TTL metering for evaluative, centerweighted, and spot (percentage of frame not available). In face detection, metering is based on the face used for focus. video: Records at up to 1920x1080p at 60 fps in AVCHD format, built-in stereo microphone, no mic input, continuous AF available in movie mode.
ISO RANGE:ISO 100–3200 (in 1/3-EV increments).
FLASH: Built-in pop-up with a range to approximately 20 feet (Auto ISO, with lens zoomed to telephoto)
BATTERY: Rechargeable NP-FH50 Li-ion, CIPA rating 410 shots.
SIZE/WEIGHT: 4.6x3.5x3.6 in., 1.3 lb with an SD card and battery.
STREET PRICE: $450