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Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Review

The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Review is the World's smallest 30x optical zoom camera, it also has a 20.4 megapixel sensor and built-in Wi-Fi.

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Sony Cybershot Dsc Hx50 6

The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 is a new travel zoom camera, it is the World's first pocket zoom with 30x optical zoom lens, and it has a 20 megapixel sensor. It also offers a flash hot-shoe (Ni) accessory port, manual controls and exposure compensation dial. You can buy the HX50 for around £350.00.

NB. We are testing the HX50V - this has GPS, but won't be available in the UK. The HX50 will be in the UK, this is the same, just without GPS.

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Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Features

The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 has a 20.4 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor and 30x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-720mm. The zoom can be doubled to 60x using Clear Image Zoom and there is Optical SteadyShot to help take sharp shots. The BIONZ processor allows high-speed shooting at 10 fps.

For easy sharing of you photos and videos, the HX50 has built-in Wi-Fi, which also allows you to use your phone as a remote control. The Multi Interface Shoe allows you to add a flash, electronic viewfinder or a microphone.

Shooting modes include Superior Auto and Intelligent Auto, this adjust the camera settings automatically for the detected scene, with Superior Auto ideal for moving subjects. There are a range of scene modes to choose from as well as full manual controls. Other modes include Intelligent Sweep Panorama and artistic effects which includes toy camera, partial colour and HDR painting.

Videos are recorded in 50p full HD with Optical SteadyShot Active Mode to keep them steady. When playing videos back you can press the shutter to take a picture.

Sony Cybershot Dsc Hx50 8

Key Features

  • 20.4 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • 30x optical zoom (35mm equiv: 24-720mm)
  • Optical SteadyShot
  • 3.0 inch 921K dot LCD screen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Multi Interface Shoe for flash, electronic viewfinder or microphone
  • Full manual controls
  • Full HD 50p video recording
  • ISO 80 - 12800
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • Intelligent Sweep Panorama
  • Artistic effects
Sony Cybershot Dsc Hx50 12

Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Handling

The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 is a chunky and heavy compact camera, but it can be forgiven as it does have the large 30x optical zoom lens. You could carry it in your pocket, but a small bag may be better. It has a good rubber grip on the front with a rubberised patch on the rear for your thumb.

On the top of the camera is a mode dial, an exposure compensation dial, zoom rocker, shutter release and on / off button. On the rear are movie record, playback, menu, delete and custom buttons. The custom button can be set to ISO, white balance, metering mode and smile shutter. Also on the rear is a rotating dial for cycling through the menus and changing the aperture / shutter speed. Just above the screen is a button which activates the pop-up flash.

The menu system is well laid out and easy to navigate. The 3.0 inch LCD has a good 921k dot resolution and is viewable in all lighting conditions. It's bright and colour, excellent for viewing you pictures.

To use the Wi-Fi you need to install the free PlayMemories app. Pairing the devices and using the app is easy. You can transfer images and videos, as well as use the app to capture them as well. You can control the zoom and set a self-timer with the app.

Sony Cybershot Dsc Hx50 App Screenshot 2 Sony Cybershot Dsc Hx50 App Screenshot 4 Sony Cybershot Dsc Hx50 App Screenshot 5

Battery life is rated at an excellent 400 shots according to CIPA test results, great for shooting pictures and using the Wi-Fi. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response   0.1 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.2 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.3 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   1.3 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.2 secs
Continuous Shooting - Hi   10.0 fps
Continuous Shooting - Low   2.0 fps

The continuous shooting modes both record at full 20.4 megapixel resolution.

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Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Cyber-shot HX50 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with excellent colour reproduction. Portraits have excellent skin tones and are free of red-eye when using the flash. The background defocus mode takes two shots to create a blurred background with your subject in focus.

Sony Cyber-shot HX50 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Images have a good amount of detail at both ends of the lens, but there are signs of some purple fringing and chromatic aberration. When using the Clear Image Zoom image quality does reduce, but the images are fine for use on the web. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm, which allows for well detailed macro shots.

Sony Cyber-shot HX50 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80, 100, 200 and 400. At ISO 800, noise causes a slight loss in image detail, with images becoming soft at ISO 1600. Images are very soft at ISO 3200, but the increase in noise at ISO 6400 and 12800 is quite significant. Images at these two highest settings are best for images that will be resized for web use.

Sony Cyber-shot HX50 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the auto white balance (AWB) performs well, with a slight colour cast when using the incandescent preset. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB again performs well, with all three fluorescent presets having a colour cast.

Standard Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Standard Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80

Wide Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Wide Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80

360 Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
360 Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80

High Resolution Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
High Resolution Panorama | 1/640 sec | f/3.5 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80

Panorama mode - There are a number of panorama modes including standard, wide, 360 and high resolution. The images have a decent amount of detail and are well stitched.

Sony Cyber-shot HX50 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The HX50 has a range of picture effects to help take creative pictures, with a number of examples above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD and the quality is good. The optical zoom is available during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.

Value For Money

The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 is available for around £350. Other cameras which 30x zoom include the Canon Powershot SX500 IS at £190, Sony Cybershot DSC-HX200V at £269 and Fujifilm FinePix S4800 at £150. All of these cameras are considerably larger than the HX50. If you want a pocketable travel zoom camera, options to consider are the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40 with 20x optical zoom at £280, Fujifilm FinePix F900 EXR at £290 with 20x optical zoom, Sony Cybershot DSC-WX300 at £270 with 20x optical zoom, Nikon Coolpix S9500 with 22x optical zoom at £250, Canon PowerShot SX270 HS at £250 with 20x optical zoom and the Olympus Stylus SH-50 with 24x optical zoom at £250. For more options, please read our Top 10 Best Pocket Zoom Digital Cameras article.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Verdict

The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 is the first pocketable camera to have 30x optical zoom. Despite being pocketable it is a little on the bulky side and fairly heavy. There are other features that make it ideal as a travel camera - built-in Wi-Fi and a good battery life. You can also shoot full resolution images at 10 fps. There's no RAW shooting, although there are full manual controls. Image quality is good, with excellent colour reproduction, although noise reduces image quality significantly from ISO 3200 upwards. We are happy to recommend the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50.

  The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 has upped the amount of zoom in a pocketable camera and delivers good image quality.

Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Pros

30x optical zoom in a pocketable body
Good image quality
Flash hot-shoe accessory port
10 fps continuous shooting
Full manual controls
Built-in Wi-Fi
Good battery life

Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 Cons

No RAW shooting
Images have significant noise from ISO 3200 upwards
A little on the expensive side


Sony Cyber-shot HX50 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
35mm equivalent24mm - 720mm
Optical Zoom30x
Image Sensor
Pixels20.4Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5184
Pixels (H)3888
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,600 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1600sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS50p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick (Sony)
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)400shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Battery Pack NP-BX1, AC AdaptorAC-UB10/UB10C/UB10D, Micro USB cable, Shoe Cap, Instruction Manual

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Photographs taken using the Sony Cyber-shot HX50

here I am...ducksfish with ears?flowerpot full of flowersfrom our citybambusKitty cats and circles around.Kitty cat 2Kitty cat and flowerplaying 2little catslittle catfor family reunificationSomething is happeningI spread out the petals of a flower

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MarioV 11 Australia
8 May 2013 2:58PM
Nice work, Daniel.
Good review. Good photos. Love the high res panorama.
Generally, I find that the photos are best reduced down in size, say to 12MP.
To me, this will just be a 50g heavier Olympus SZ30 which I found to be at the limit of pocketability.
simmybear 16 32 United Kingdom
12 May 2013 2:45PM
Why no GPS in the UK as the culmination of hx9, hx20, hx30 all of which had GPS this is a stupid and shortsighted ommission as it is only in the UK that you cant have it - come on Sony what gormless idiot in your marketing department came up with that one??
MarioV 11 Australia
18 May 2013 1:50AM
Simmybear, no GPS for UK users is a very strange ommision.
Sony Australia has included GPS in its specifications.
Sony store US does not mention GPS in its specs, but it mentions GPS tagging in its Features.

Meh, I ended up going with the Canon SX280.
21 May 2013 12:23PM

How is the image quality of the Canon SX280 compared to this? Or just of the Canon in general? Any battery issues with the Canon? I've been tossing up between the 2.. Its doing my head in! Lots of bad reviews regarding the battery. I'm also in Aus & about to look/buy this Sony on Thursday (23/05/13). Would u recommend the canon though?
MarioV 11 Australia
23 May 2013 1:29PM
Hi Jasmine
Sorry for the delay in responding.
The SX280 image quality is very good. But there is the currently unresolved issue regarding the battery with regards to taking video, eg. once the battery goes down to say 2/3 power, and you try to take some full hd video, the battery warning flashes and you can hardly take any video before it shuts down. Very annoying and its unknown as to whether/when there will be a firmware fix.

The other alternative is the Panasonic TZ40. Its pretty close. Thinner, lighter but a bit more expensive.

Whilst the SX280 is said to currently have best in class image quality, I really doubt you'd go wrong with the Sony HX50 - if you mainly just look at the pictures full screen and dont zoom in too much or crop heavily.

Otherwise, the longer zoom, HDR and high res panorama make the HX50 very nice indeed - as long as you are ok with the slightly larger, heavier size and higher cost.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure you'll be happy with the HX50 as a good all-rounder.
4 Aug 2013 4:55PM
Hi looking at buying Sony PowerShot hx50 or lumix tz40 was wondering what's the better one to buy for a non proffesinal who down't understand all the technical information.
alexph 9
3 Sep 2013 1:52PM
Have just bought one and am really pleased. However beware that transferring pictures from camera to Apple Mac Book pro laptops appears impossible. It works great with iMacs, but I cannot get the transfer to work with any one of three macbook pro's
4 Nov 2013 9:08AM
I have recently purchased sony hx50v, while shooting photos outdoor in cloudy environment (intelligent auto mode) viewing it in actual size getting lot of noise even more then any old sony camera.
My question is why is this is happening how can i fix it.? is there is any problem with camera or intelligent auto mode.
I look at a lot of reviews before buying a camera but find the Ephotozine reviews as good as any. The clock dial and panoramic shots in this review were particularly impressive. Had a look at the HX50's competitors, but, apart from anything else, their appearance put me off. Like the Sony design and finish, perhaps a little reminiscent of Rollei cameras. Set in aperture priority the camera almost instantly locked on to everything in the shop that I pointed it at. So out came 200 in cash and an HX50 came home with me.
The most impressive thing about the HX50 is the efficiency of its optical image stabilisation. For long telephoto shots I use it in aperture priority (Though I don't think it has an iris diaphragm) at ISO 80 with centre focusing and metering set. At ISO 80 it can cope with daylight levels down to about a 60th at f8 for ISO 100 and that's at the full 720mm extent of the zoom.
At the lower ISO speeds there's much less noise than one would expect and the images can take quite a lot of extra sharpening and other editing without running into noise problems.
The "Superior" program mode is very clever and fun to play with, but it isn't foolproof. I took two shots of a speedboat, one in Superior mode and the other in aperture priority. In the program shot the camera metered on the water and under exposed the boat. In aperture priority with centre metering and focusing it produced an image that wouldn't have disgraced a DSLR.
The worst thing about the HX50 is the screen in bright sunshine. "Shooting in the dark" sums it up. Then there's my pet hate : exposure compensation is unavailable in landscape scene mode and I've yet to find a compact that doesn't overexpose in bright sunshine. However, I'm very happy with the camera as long as I can use it in aperture priority.

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