As far as travel compacts go, we’ve recently seen the launch of the Canon Powershot SX230HS as well as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20. Sony has just released the Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V travel compact, which has some pretty interesting attributes, including 16x optical zoom, a 16.2 megapixel sensor, 3D still image capturing, and full HD video recording, amongst others. Here’s a closer look at this point-and-shoot camera.
The DSC-HX9V is a compact camera, but is a bit larger than other point-and-shoot compacts available in the market. That said, given all the features and functions loaded in this camera, it is quite slim. The camera sports a predominantly matte black finish, with a gun metal finish on the side and top. There is a rubberized hand grip, allowing you to shoot images easily with one hand. There is also a thumb grip on the back, making the camera easier to hold.
The lens on the front is slightly raised from the body, but still allows the camera to retain its compact size. The lens slides out easily and there no build issues noticed here. There is a large 3-inch screen at the back that flushes along the body. To the right of the screen are the buttons, which have a silver finish. The four-way navigational key acts as a jog dial as well as for scrolling between the different options. The dial is easy to turn, with very little resistance.
To the top of the camera is the mode dial, the shutter release button that’s attached to the zoom rocker, a stereo speaker, on/off button and a custom button. These buttons are well spaced out and sturdy. The pop-up flash is located on the top right of the camera and can be deployed by activating the flash. The build quality of the flash is good. Concealed in a bay at the side is the mini HDMI port. The flap for this port is made of plastic and when closed, remains flush against the side. The camera uses a USB port for charging, so there is no need to remove the battery from its bay. The battery bay also houses the 4 GB memory card that comes bundled with the camera.
This is a stylish looking camera and though on the slightly bulky side, it can fit easily in a jeans or shirt pocket. The build quality is good and feels like it could definitely withstand a few knocks.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V, as mentioned earlier, is pretty loaded with features. It houses a 1/2.3-inch 16.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor with a BIONZ processor. Sony claims that by using this processing engine, the noise levels are reduced and the colour integrity is maintained. We will see if this holds true in the performance section. The processor is fast, allowing one to click images quickly for continuous shooting.
One of the main features of this camera is the 16x optical zoom featured on Sony’s proprietary G lens. These lenses complement another feature of this camera, whereby the background defocuses while the subject in focus appears sharp. These lenses are also found on Sony’s Alpha range of DSLR cameras. The image stabilization, called Optical SteadyShot, helps in reducing blur when the zoom is set at its maximum. The ISO range is between 100 - 3200. In the Scene mode, there is a High ISO Sensitivity option that allows you to click images well in extremely dark environments. The camera lacks the aperture priority and shutter priority modes, but these settings can be adjusted through the manual mode.
The interface is pretty easy to operate and we found ourselves enjoying the ease of use a lot. Another feature we enjoyed was the camera’s 3D ability. There are three options. The first is the ability to view a 3D captured image on the camera as well as a 3D TV; the second is 3D sweep panorama; and the third is the ability to capture images in 3D to be viewed on a 3D TV. We had to tilt the camera to view 3D images on it.
Other features of this camera include full HD (1080p) video recording, a built-in GPS and compass as well as several scene modes, giving you the ability to capture images based on profiles such as soft-skin, fireworks, snow, sports, etc.