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Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review

Joshua Waller reviews the new Sony Cybershot HX9v - a pocket travel zoom with 16.2 megapixel sensor, 16x optical zoom lens, and GPS.

| Sony Cyber-shot HX9V in Compact Cameras
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Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review: Sony Cybershot HX9V GPS

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 GPS Camera Review: Sony Cybershot HX9V GPS

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.

Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review: Sony Cybershot HX9V GPS

Key Features 
  • 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
Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review: Sony Cybershot HX9V GPS

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.

Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review: Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Top

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.

Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review: Sony Cybershot HX9V GPS

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
Shutter Response* <0.05 <0.05 0.05 <0.05
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
(full resolution)
(8 shots)
(14 shots)
2.5fps 10fps
(10 shots)
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.

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 Flowers
Portrait with flash Flowers

Portrait shot above with some red-eye, although other portrait shots showed very little to no red-eye.

Clubhouse Forest
Clubhouse Forest

Cricket clubhouse, and forest, near dusk, grey skies.

Tungsten preset
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).

Noise tests:

ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200

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.

Land Rover
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).

Nightshot Thoresby Hall
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!

HR Panoramic
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!

Sony Cybershot HX9v GPS Camera Review:
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


Sony Cybershot HX9v Specification

Price £299
Lens 16x optical zoom (35 mm equivalent: 24 – 384 mm) f/3.3 – f/5.9
Resolution 16.2 million pixels
Sensor size 1/2.3
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
Focusing modes

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)

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Photographs taken using the Sony Cyber-shot HX9V


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I'm particularly interested in burst speed and am a little puzzled.

The review states "The fast performance of the HX9v is rather impressive, with the quickest continuous shooting available"

According to the specs, the panasonic TZ20 would seem to match this, and it seems to be the only camera in this class that can refocus between burst shots - albeit 'only' at 5fps. For a fast moving subject this would seem to be an advantage.

The TZ20 also has a burst flash mode of 5 flashes, although what frame rate is achievable I can't find in the spec's
joshwa Plus
12 927 1 United Kingdom
Yes, the TZ20 matches the Sony on paper, but for some reason I was only able to get 6fps from it when I was testing it.
Interesting to hear your actual measurement rather than 'claimed'

Did you try the TZ20's '5' burst mode for which the instructions claim "The subject is brought into focus as far as this is allowed by the burst speed. The pictures are taken with the burst function while the exposure and White Balance are being adjusted" and number of pictures - 100 ?

Also, did you try the flash burst mode on the TZ20?

How do the gps functions compare on the various models?

Are yo going to review the TZ20 soon?
Yes - review coming soon. We had limited time with the TZ20, so were unable to test all of the burst modes. The speed problem may have been memory card related but without testing further I can not confirm this.
Thanks Joshwa

It's really nice to be able to 'talk' to the reviewer - I look forward to your full findings on the TZ20
dcash29 17 2.4k England
whatever happened to a hx7v review? Sad

Its like the model never existed

To late now cos ive purchased a cheap tz10

Quote:Whatever happened to a hx7v review? Sad

Its like the model never existed

To late now cos ive purchased a cheap tz10

We can get the HX7v to review but I fear it may be too late for you Smile
My friend has just bought a Fuji F550exr and is taking it to Alaska tomorrow.

That model is still in the running for my next purchase - other contenders Panny TZ20 and Sony HX9V.

Putting me off the Fuji is the flash which pops up every time you turn the camera on

The TZ20 seems to have best burst functions including 5fps with focus/exposure set for each frame. All the other seem to fix settings on first frame of a burst (as does TZ20 at 10fps). But the TZ20 seems to have the worst picture quality. Flash burst may also be interesting to play with.

The Fuji EXR sensor may give it a quality advantage but no-one seems to have tested it at 'M' resolution which may give optimum results on high contrast scenes (ie not burning out the sky in landscapes).

So waiting for more reviews and a hands on with the camears - the only one of these three that I've 'felt' is the Fuji - and that was good.

As for the HX7v - isn't that just a HX9v with a shorter zoom?
I purchased the HX7v on eBay for £235 inc carriage. I am extremely pleased with the camera - I looked at the HX9v but decided on the HX7v because the extra zoom was more than offset by the additional bulk and cost. This is very much a second camera for me - one that I carry around with me. My main camera is a Nikon DSLR.

The video is excellent and very smooth - when walking carefully it gives a dolly - type effect. I have a 'proper' HD camcorder which I use for video reports etc. But when the light is half decent the video on the HX7v is comparable. The main drawback is the lack of a external mic input.

Overall the HX7v is a great camera with very useful features and a fantastic screen.
Hi VirtuallyWight

Nice to hear from someone with 'real world' experience of the Sony.

'Back in the day' I used to lug around two Canon EOS 10's and a bag full of lenses, film, etc. Now I'm more of a happy snapper.

Once a month I try and get a few shots on an organised dog walk and was perhaps concentrating too much on 'burst' performance. I suspect for my use I might be happy grabbing frames from that 1080p video - have you tried that?

Some of my snaps are posted at:

I'm looking forward to the HX9's arrival here in west Cornwall.

I might go for he longer zoom as I do like to try and grab the occasional 'critter shot'
The burst performance is definitely of a far lower quality and smaller file size than normal shooting. But its very useful when you want to grab an action shot.

1080p video works well - I've tried AVCHD and Mp4 - my computer didn't immediately recognise the AVCHD format, but renaming the files to mpg did the trick. I use mp4 normally and I'm very pleased with the results - remember though that its not a dedicated movie camera. One BIG plus for me is that it zooms out far wider than my Samsung HD camcorder - so I use this when I need wide angle shots.

My video of watching the Royal Wedding at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight was shot using HX7v

This was shot hand held.

To reduce wind noise I've stuck some fake fur on top of the stero mics
The F550 has a number of burst modes: 8fps for 8 shots at 16mp, 11fps for 16 shots at 8mp, and at lower resolution you can shoot even more shots. But really, the Casio FH100 and ZR100 have the highest continuous shooting speeds at full resolution.
I see your review of the Fuji F550 is now out, so I'll join you again over there
Is it true that the position of the flash (popping up when needed) is due to the fact that the bigger the distance between lense and flash the higher the red eye reduction?
Somehow the position is inconvenient because usually I keep my left indexfinger where the flash poppes up.
It is also possible that the position is caused by the lense which is more in the center of the housing than in the hx5 or hx7.
Somehow I also worry that dirt and dust may find its easier way into the camera...

Do you have any other explanation for the flash there?

Best wishes,

Kamil from Germany
RV 12 1
Exclusion of Aperture- and Shutter-Priority is pretty dumb.

Quote:Exclusion of Aperture- and Shutter-Priority is pretty dumb.

I would have liked it too, but I believe the manual settings will allow sort of A or S 'mode' if you will. Pros seem to prefer manual controls than any automated controls. I believe you can see the instant effect of manual settings in terms of exposure by seeing the LCD display. I do that on a Canon sx130.

I was not too keen on getting the HX9V but a friend got it and sent me photos which for my limited photographic expertise is more than I expect, as opposed to initially wanting the HX100V but the extraordinary voluminous bulk deterred me....DSLR sized without the imaging quality of it.
I've seen some GPS camera comparison and a link led me here. I thought I'd find a review for the GPS function (and perhaps some answers) addressing problems in the built in GPS implementation for the HX9V not being able to store the last GPS fix.
The lens on the Sony HXV9 is the "G" branded lens, this means top Quality. Sony has throw all their expertise and cash on the "G" lens its good
The HX9V is appears to be the new benchmark; above Canon and Nikon.
I'm generally very pleased with my HX9V but do have a few ideas for possible future firmware updates. Any other owners got any thoughts?

Suggestions for firmware updates to HX9V
(and other Cybershots)

1/ Option to turn GPS on (or off) from position information page

2/ Add a continuous shooting mode

ie hold down shutter button and camera continues taking pictures (refocusing for each shot) as quickly as possible (depending on shooting conditions and file size) until finger lifted from shutter button (or card is full)

Include this function as fourth option: single / continuous / burst / bracket

3/ Increase bracket range to +/- 2EV

4/ Add function to ‘DISP’ – hold down 2 secs to enter panel brightness menu

(failing this, include panel brightness in top menu )

5/ Provide ‘automatic’ panel brightness option

6/ Save display detail settings separately for playback mode

eg detailed when shooting, clear screen on playback
Quote:I'm generally very pleased with my HX9V but do have a few ideas for possible future firmware updates. Any other owners got any thoughts?

Thanks Bluedog69, I've been following your comments as I too am going through the same decision process. I too have decided on the HX9V, not least because I have an old Sony N1 which I have used for a few years now with great success.

Thanks for the help

Just bought a second hand hx90 from Amazon. It came with one software disc enabling a variety of Windows OS. I am Mac based OSX 10.58 and OSX 10.72. There is a Mac folder on this disc but when files will not open on either of my Macs. Been on to Sony - but not much help..
The camera itself works fine but I need to set up Gps Assist
I have taken some trial photos with the Gps in operation but this is not transferred with the EXIF file
When I download to Aperture
Any help or ideas greatly appreciated
the sony HX9V is a really good camera...but the final image quality is RUINED by Sony's crass, heavy handed noise reduction...the smearing of fine detail and "painted on" , watercolour effect is terrible !!!!! Dont waste your hard earned money...dont bother with the sony HX10v, suffers from the same heavy compression....even if there is only moderate zooming in of the pic , it is obvious there is an unnatural look to the image ( it sucks !!)....cant crop, cant print.....ignore Sony as they ignore their customers genuine concerns.
I will be more than happy to buy a Nikon or Canon Slr and a nice HDTV (.. non-Sony, of course )...Sony have lost me as a loyal customer BIG time !!
Bantu 9 7 1 India
very good camera with a good lens .video quality is quality is really breathtaking.very responsive.very good processing power also.

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