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The Sony Cybershot HX9v is the latest pocket zoom from Sony, offering a 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, a wide angle 16x optical zoom lens, 3 inch screen, Full HD video with stereo sound, and built in GPS. Along with one other camera, it offers the most optical zoom in a compact body, for a GPS camera.
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 merges the shots in camera.
The HX9v features an automatic pop-up flash, it only pops up when the flash is needed, and stays inside the camera body if you've switched the flash off.
The other big feature of the HX9v is 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.
- 16.2 megapixel Exmor R Backlit CMOS sensor
- 16x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 24 – 384 mm in 35mm equiv. f/3.3 - f/5.9
- Compact metal body available in black, or gold
- Optical Steady Shot (Lens based) Image Stabilisation
- Full HD with optical zoom, and stereo sound.
- 3.0 inch screen with 921k pixels
- intelligent Auto, intelligent Auto plus called "Superior Auto"
- Burst Mode : Approx 10 fps at 16.2 megapixels (Maximum 10 shots)
- 3D Stills and 3D Sweep Panoramas
- High Resolution Sweep Panorama - shoot 42.9 megapixel panoramas
- Memory Card Slot : MS Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC Compatible
- Built in GPS
- Manual Control
- ISO 100 - 3200
- 5cm Macro mode
The inclusion of a custom button on top is a nice addition, it defaults to exposure compensation, but can easily be changed in the setup menus, and the middle button in the center of the command wheel letting you switch to tracking focus.. 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 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 (photograph) 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. 410 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 decent but it would be nice if it was nearer 400 shots as per Sony's website.
Speed: We tested the Canon Powershot SX230 HS, and tested the camera with the Panasonic Lumix TZ20, Sony Cybershot HX9v and Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR, taking 6 shots and using the average to ensure consistent results.
|Fujifilm F550EXR||Panasonic TZ20||Canon SX230||Sony HX9|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.20||0.25||0.35||0.20|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.20||0.25||0.40||0.20|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||3.7s||2.2s||1.8s||2.0s|
|Shot to Shot (without flash)||2.4s||1.2s||1.8s||1.0s|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||2.5s||2.0s||3.2s||1.9s|
|Continuous shooting (with flash)||N/A||N/A||1.2s||N/A|
F550: no of frames: 4, 8, 16, 32. 8fps full resolution (max 8 shots), 11fps at Medium, max 16 frames / or 32 frames at S (Small). *when pre-focused.
The fast performance of the HX9v is rather impressive, with the quickest continuous shooting available, the quickest shot to shot time with or without flash, and a very quick switch on time (only beaten by the Canon Powershot SX230 HS). The camera also has the fastest focusing time, joint with the Fujifilm FinePix F550.
Here are a number of sample photos taken with the Sony Cybershot HX9v. The photos posted here are from a full production version of the camera. Click the images to view full size version.
|Portrait with flash||Flowers|
Portrait shot above with some red-eye, although other portrait shots showed very little to no red-eye.
Cricket clubhouse, and forest, near dusk, grey skies.
|AWB - Tungsten lighting||Tungsten preset - Tungsten lighting|
|AWB - Fluorescent lighting||Fluorecent lighting, Fluorescent Preset 1 (of 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 ISO100 to ISO3200. Noise is very low at ISO100 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.
|HDR - Backlight HDR mode||Wide-angle (24mm)|
|Mid-zoom||Full 16x optical zoom|
The photos above show the full range of the optical zoom from 24mm wide angle to full 16x optical zoom. The optical zoom provides an impressive zoom range from 24mm equivalent to 384mm equivalent, helping you zoom into distant subjects and view high levels of detail.
|Blue Land Rover||Macro with some zoom.|
Pics above show 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-helf 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).
|Night Shot - Handheld Twilight Scene Mode||Thoresby Hall|
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, colour modes (standard, vivid, real, sepia, and black and white), colour saturation / contrast / sharpness (low, standard, high).
Sony Cybershot HX9v 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 HX9v is available for £299, and it's most direct competitors are the Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR with 15x optical zoom, at £235, Panasonic Lumix TZ20 with 16x optical zoom, at £280, Canon Powershot SX230 HS with 14x optical zoom, priced at £299, and Casio Exilim H20G with 10x optical zoom, at £220. There are no other new GPS pocket zoom cameras available at the moment, and the only other cameras with built in GPS are waterproof / tough models, or last years models. As such the Sony Cybershot HX9v offers quite good value for money considering the full range of features.
|The Sony Cybershot HX9v excels at everything it does, and packs everything you need into a pocket sized camera. Highly Recommended!|
GPS provides useful information - quick lock
Full HD video with stereo sound and optical zoom
Excellent 16x optical zoom lens
Good image quality - excellent colour
Built in optical image stabilisation
Excellent low noise upto ISO1600
Images look great on the high quality screen
Clever high resolution panoramic mode
Sony Cybershot HX9v Cons:
Limited availability initially
Some purple fringing in extreme conditions
|Lens||16x optical zoom (35 mm equivalent: 24 – 384 mm) f/3.3 – f/5.9|
|Resolution||16.2 million pixels|
|Sensor type||Back-illuminated "Exmor R" CMOS|
|Max. Image size||16.2mp 4608 x 3456|
|Aspect ratio||4:3, 16:9|
|Monitor||3.0in TFT LCD monitor, 921k pixels|
|Shutter speed||iAuto (2"" - 1/1600) / Program Auto (1"" - 1/1600) / Manual (30""-1/1600)|
|Focusing system||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 **
|Focus distance||5 cm (W) from front of lens|
|File types||JPEG compression,|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO 100 - 3200|
|Metering modes||Light Metering: Multi Pattern, Centre weighted, Spot|
|Exposure compensation||± 2.0EV, 1/3EV step|
|Continuous||10fps, 10 shots, full resolution|
|Image stabilisation||Yes (lens shift-type) - Optical SteadyShot|
|Movie mode||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)|
|Media type||SD, SDHC, SDXC|
|Interface||Hi-Speed USB 2.0, Multi use Terminal with HD, Type3b, AV ( SD ) / USB / DCIN|
|Power||Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NP-BG1 (battery and charger supplied)|
|Box Contents||Camera, Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BG1), USB charger (AC-UB10/10B), USB cable, Wrist strap, CD-ROM|
|Size||104.8 x 59 x 33.9 mm|
|Weight||215g (excluding battery and SD memory card)|