The Sony Cybershot HX7v is one of the latest pocket zooms from Sony, offering a 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, a wide angle 10x optical zoom lens, 3 inch screen, Full HD video with stereo sound, and 3D sweep panorama, as well as GPS. The Sony Cybershot HX7v is the little version of the HX9v and features a 25mm wide angle 10x optical zoom lens, instead of the 24mm wide angle 16x optical zoom lens on the HX9v. Nb. Due to similarities between the HX7v and HX9v, this review is based on the HX9v review.
Sony Cybershot HX7v Features
The Sony Cybershot HX7v features a wide angle 10x optical zoom lens and backlit "Exmor R" CMOS sensor. It is capable of shooting at 10fps for up to 10 shots. The camera also features full manual controls, and a number of useful and easy to use intelligent auto modes, and a wide variety of scene modes, include 3D photos and 3D panoramas.
Full HD video is available with stereo sound, and optical zoom. HDMI then lets you output the video to a compatible TV for viewing. Alternatively you can view your videos and photos on the large, high resolution, 3 inch screen. The camera also uses the high speed shooting to enable a "backlighting HDR" mode, capturing a number of shots in quick succession, the camera then merges the shots in camera.
The HX7v features built in GPS - this gives you position information display, with a number of options including: GPS on/off, GPS assist data (designed to speed up GPS signal lock), auto clock adjust (by GPS), auto area adjust (by GPS). The big advantage of this feature is that when it's switched on and the GPS signal is locked on, then it will embed the GPS location information into the JPEG file's EXIF data - then whenever you look back at the photos you'll know exactly where you were when you took them. This is especially useful if you're travelling the world, or maintaining a travel blog, particularly when a number of websites and travel blogs support GPS mapping.
Sony Cybershot HX7v Key Features
16.2 megapixel Exmor R Backlit CMOS sensor
10x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 25 – 250mm in 35mm equiv. f/3.3 - f/5.9
High Resolution Sweep Panorama - shoot 42.9 megapixel panoramas
Memory Card Slot: MS Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC Compatible
Built in GPS
ISO 125 - 3200
5cm Macro mode
Sony Cybershot HX7v Handling
The design of the camera is quite angular, with a conservative design, and a mostly rectangular style. The HX7v is slightly slimmer and more compact than the HX9v, and the camera has a body that feels sturdy, and the larger than expected hand grip provides a good level of grip, although there is no rubber grip on the back. The rubber on the front isn't as soft as some cameras, but it should be more durable as a result.
The body is mostly metal, with a chrome effect surround on the top and left hand side, with a metal tripod mount. The battery and memory compartment is lockable with a latch, and although it is made out of plastic, the mechanism underneath is made out of a solid looking piece of metal. Another interesting feature of the camera is that it supports both Sony Memory Stick memory cards, as well as SD/SDHC/SDXC, although only one will fit in at a time.
The buttons are slightly small, especially the smaller round buttons on the back of the camera, however they were generally easy to use once you familiarised yourself with the location. The mode dial is a little stiff initially but appears to becoming easy to use after some use (or perhaps I'm adjusting myself), although the small size of the dial makes it a little tricky at times to use. The screen outdoors works quite well and is still visible in bright sunlight.
Menus: The Sony Cybershot HX7v menus differ slightly from other cameras (depending what you are used to), instead of giving you quick access to a limited number of options, the menu button on the back of the camera gives you an overlay of options that can be quickly accessed, however it shows you all of the (photography) settings available, and then to go deeper into the menu system, you are actually taken to the setup menu. The setup menu options do have all the usual menus, such as shooting, main settings, memory card, and clock, however the idea is that you shouldn't need to enter these settings whilst taking photos.
Battery Life: The camera's battery life is rated at approx. 290 shots according to the Sony website, however, the box says the battery will last for 300 shots. The battery is rated at 960mAh and was able to provide around 300 shots before going flat, this is good for a compact zoom with GPS.
The Sony Cybershot HX7v is a quick performer, with fast focusing, very fast shutter response, and excellent continuous shooting at 10fps for 10 shots, the slowest feature is the shot to shot time when using the flash. *When pre-focused.
Sony Cybershot HX7v Performance
Here are a number of sample photos taken with the Sony Cybershot HX7v. The photos posted here are from a full production version of the camera. Click the images to view full size version.
Portrait with flash
Portrait - Beauty Shot (Softens skin, etc)
Portrait shot above shows very little red-eye, and the beauty shot softens the skin, removing freckles etc.
HDR Backlighting On
Backlighting HDR takes a number of shots at different exposures and combines them to produce and image with higher dynamic range, and in this shot it has increased detail in the bright white areas of the photo.
AWB - Tungsten lighting
Tungsten preset - Tungsten lighting
Fluorescent, Fluorescent 1
Fluorecent lighting, Fluorescent 2
Fluorecent lighting, Fluorescent 3
Photos above show: the camera tested in different lighting to see how the auto white balance (AWB) copes, and whether you get better results from using the presets. The auto white balance results are good under tungsten lighting, although using the tungsten preset produced more natural looking colours. Under fluorescent lighting the camera performed best using auto white balance, and using the fluorescent preset gave either a magenta cast (as shown above), or a yellow colour cast to images (when using fluorescent preset 2 or 3).
Above shows the camera tested at the full ISO range of the camera, from ISO125 to ISO3200. Noise is very low at ISO125 and continues to be very low even at ISO400. At ISO800 there is some noticeable noise, but very low for a compact camera sensor. ISO1600 produces useable results, with some detail being lost. Using ISO3200 has the highest noise, and detail is lost, this setting is most likely to be suitable for resized images.
The photos above show the full range of the optical zoom from 25mm wide angle to full 10x optical zoom. The optical zoom provides a zoom range from 25mm equivalent to 250mm equivalent, helping you zoom into distant subjects and view high levels of detail.
Glossop, Night shot (Handheld Twilight Scene Mode, combines shots)
The photo above right, shows the camera when taking macro photos - the HX9v doesn't feature a "macro" button, but instead focuses from the closest range automatically. The closest focus is 5cm, however using some optical zoom can get you a little closer to the subject.
The camera doesn't particularly have "creative" or "effect" modes (such as miniature or toy camera modes like others), rather it has some of the more traditional scene modes, as well as some of the newer, more photographic focused modes, these are: background defocus, soft skin, soft snap, anti motion blur, landscape, backlight correction HDR, twilight portrait, twilight, hand-held twilight, high sensitivity, gourmet, pet, beach, snow, fireworks, advanced sports shooting, 3D still image, 3D sweep panorama, 3D sweep multi angle (shoots 3D image previewable on the camera, and displayable in 3D on a 3DTV), intelligent panorama (standard, wide, high resolution - shoots vertically).
Panoramic shot: High Resolution Sweep Panorama mode asks you to take a panoramic shot by holding the camera vertically, then sweeping across the scene. This creates an image size of 10,480 x 4096 - a massive 42.9 megapixels!
In addition there are further options available in Program mode, manual focus, manual white balance, exposure bracketing, white balance bracketing, although some of the more advanced options have been removed from the HX7v, as there are additional options on the HX9v such as colour modes, and control over sharpness, saturation and contrast.
Sony Cybershot HX7v Full HD Sample Video:
Video quality is very good recording full HD videos with stereo sound, and allows the use of optical zoom. The optical zoom is very smooth when recording, however this means that barely any lens noise is picked up on the video.
The video quality options available are: AVC HD 28M (PS) 1920 x 1080,50p, AVC HD 24M (FX) 1920 x 1080,50i, AVC HD 17M (FH) 1920 x 1080,50i, AVC HD 9M (HQ) 1440 x 1080,50i, and MP4 12M (1440 x 1080, 25p), MP4 6M (1280 x 720), MP4 3M (VGA).
Value for Money
The Sony Cybershot HX7v is available for £249 and is available in Black or Gold. This puts it at the cheaper end of the GPS pocket zoom market - although the majority of other pocket zooms with GPS have longer telephoto reach. The Sony Cybershot HX9v with 16x optical zoom is available for £299, the Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR with 15x optical zoom is £235, the Panasonic Lumix TZ20 with 16x optical zoom is £270, the Canon Powershot SX230 HS with 14x optical zoom is £265, and the Casio Exilim H20G with 10x optical zoom is £195.
Sony Cybershot HX7v Verdict
The Sony Cybershot HX7v is an extremely well built camera, with a high quality metal body, and good design. The rubber grip is good, and the camera performs well in every situation, thanks to low noise, built in image stabilisation, and a great lens. The full HD video mode is impressive and the high resolution screen makes viewing photos enjoyable, and GPS works well. The Sony Cybershot HX7v may only feature a 10x optical zoom lens, but the relatively low price compared to most of the competition make it a very appealing camera.
The Sony Cybershot HX7v is a great travel zoom, featuring a compact body and wide angle 10x optical zoom lens.
Sony Cybershot HX7v Pros:
GPS provides useful information - quick lock
Full HD video with stereo sound and optical zoom
Good image quality - excellent colour
Built in optical image stabilisation
Excellent low noise up to ISO1600
Images look great on the high quality screen
Clever high resolution panoramic mode
Sony Cybershot HX7v Cons:
Limited telephoto zoom compared to alternatives
Some purple fringing in extreme conditions
iAuto (2" - 1/1600) / Program Auto (1" - 1/1600) / Manual (30"-1/1600)
Contrast detection AF
Auto Focus Area (Multi Point, 9 points (Under Face Undetected), Auto Focus Area (Centre weighted, Auto Focus Area (Flexible Spot), Manual Focus
5 cm (W) from front of lens
ISO 125 - 3200
Light Metering: Multi Pattern, Centre weighted, Spot
± 2.0EV, 1/3EV step
10fps, 10 shots, full resolution
Yes (lens shift-type) - Optical SteadyShot
Memory Stick™ Duo / Memory Stick PRO Duo™(Mark2 only) / Memory Stick PRO Duo™ High Speed (No Speed Advantage) / Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™ (No Speed Advantage), SD Memory Card(Class4 or Higher for movie), SDHC/SDXC Memory Card(Class4 or Higher for movie)
SD, SDHC, SDXC
Hi-Speed USB 2.0, Multi use Terminal with HD, Type3b, AV ( SD ) / USB / DCIN
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NP-BG1 (battery and charger supplied)
Camera, Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BG1), USB charger (AC-UB10/10B), USB cable, Wrist strap, CD-ROM