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.
Sony Cybershot HX9v Features
The Sony Cybershot HX9v is the latest pocket zoom from Sony, with a wide angle 16x optical zoom lens and backlit "Exmor R" CMOS sensor it is capable of shooting at 10fps for upto 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 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
High Resolution Sweep Panorama - shoot 42.9 megapixel panoramas
Memory Card Slot : MS Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC Compatible
Built in GPS
ISO 100 - 3200
5cm Macro mode
Sony Cybershot HX9v Handling
The design of the camera is quite angular, with a conservative design, and a mostly rectangular style. The thickness of the camera also makes it seem quite chunky compared to some of the more compact pocket zooms. However, the benefits of this are that the body feels very sturdy, and the larger than expected hand grip provides a good level of grip, especially when combined with the rubber thumb grip on the back of the camera. The rubber isn't as soft as some cameras, but it should be more durable as a result.
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.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous shooting (with flash)
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.
Sony Cybershot HX9v Performance
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
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
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
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!
HR Panoramic sweep mode, click to enlarge, although please be aware that the full size image is 14mb.
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.
Sony Cybershot HX9v Verdict
The Sony Cybershot HX9v 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. GPS works well and the only initial problem is the fact that you can't yet seem to buy the camera, except in limited quantities. If you can find one, then it's Highly Recommended!
The Sony Cybershot HX9v excels at everything it does, and packs everything you need into a pocket sized camera. Highly Recommended!
Sony Cybershot HX9v Pros:
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
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 100 - 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