Sony’s latest high-end travel compact features technology designed to make it easier for you to produce great shots. We find out if the HX9V really does the job
Features and build
At the heart of the HX9V is a 1/2.3in Exmor R CMOS sensor, now with 16.2 million effective pixels. Exmor R sensors were first introduced to Sony cameras in 2009 and use a back-illuminated design to allow increased sensitivity and reduced noise; this version, also shared by the Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V and HX7V, is the highest resolution of its type and size.
The sensor is paired up with a Bionz processor to offer an ISO range of 100-3200 and enough speed to provide the 10fps burst shooting and intelligent panorama controls. One disappointment is that images can only be saved in JPEG format, with no raw alternative.
The lens has a 16x zoom, which extends from a 24mm wide equivalent through to 384mm, with a maximum aperture of f/3.3-5.9 and a minimum aperture of f/8-14. SteadyShot optical stabilisation is built in, and macro focusing is available up to 5cm at its wide setting or 120cm at full zoom.
The shooting modes include a program setting and a fully manual mode but, strangely, no aperture or shutter priority. However, as only two apertures are ever available (minimum and maximum), the manual mode is easy to use.
On top of the scene modes and iAuto mode, the Superior Auto (iAuto+) mode recognises the type of shot, then takes a quick burst of images at differing exposures and combines the results to achieve higher quality and lower image noise. The dedicated background defocus mode maintains the maximum aperture and recommends your subject distance to optimise the effect.
Image: Superior Auto mode analyses the scene, then takes a burst of images at different exposures and combines the results for improved quality
There is also a range of 3D modes for panoramic, multi-shot and still images, which can be displayed on 3D-compatible TVs or computers but not on the camera itself. The 3D Still Image mode uses two exposures and combines them to simulate a 3D effect, so lacks the true movement of the panoramic feature.
In program or manual mode, the HX9V allows control over ISO, white balance (including manual adjustment), AF point selection, three metering options (spot, centreweighted and evaluative), and bracketing controls. Other focusing options include manual focus, face detection, and Smile Shutter, which fires the shutter automatically when the subject smiles.
The camera’s video shooting capabilities have also been upgraded from those in the HX5V, and offers full HD (1920×1080 pixels, 50i) with increased bit rate averaging 24Mb/s, compared to 17Mb/s on the HX5V at its highest setting. The HX9V also includes GPS data capture, which is embedded into the JPEG files and video for geotagging.
The body of the camera is small, stylish and rather simple in design. There are no extreme protrusions and, with the lens retracted, it fits easily into a trouser pocket. It is almost identical in looks to the HX5V, except for the new rubberised grip on the front and thumb position on the rear, and the location of the flash. While the flash was previously built into the front of the camera, it now pops out of the top-plate, sitting higher above the lens. On the rear, the 3in, 921,600-dot LCD takes up most of the space, with just four buttons, including a direct movie record button next to a four-way selection dial, which also offers rotation.
Although the HX9V uses the same battery as the HX5V, the power consumption has been optimised to improve its lifetime from 310 to 410 shots.