Sony’s latest premium compact camera features a 20x zoom and 18.2-million-pixel Exmor R sensor. Mat Gallagher finds out if the Sony Cyber-shot HX20V offers enough for the creative photographer

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Sony Cyber-shot HX20V

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Sony Cyber-shot HX20V review


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Sony Cyber-shot HX20V at a glance:

  • 18.2-million-pixel, 1/2.3in Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • 20x zoom (25-500mm equivalent)
  • Full HD (50p) video capture
  • GPS tracking
  • Street price: around £330

Cameras at the top end of the compact market have to work hard to maintain their positions, due to competition from less expensive compact system cameras and advanced point-and-shoot models. Loosely termed ‘travel compacts’, these models feature a range of creative options and typically long zooms.

Sony’s Cyber-shot HX range encapsulates these features with three models, comprising the HX20V on test here, a slightly lower-spec HX10V and a more bridge-styled HX200V. Both the HX10 and HX20 follow on from last year’s HX9V model, but feature a new higher-resolution sensor and, in the case of the HX20V, a longer 20x zoom.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. Performance
  5. 5. Our verdict
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  • Seamus Donnelly

    Purchased the X-S1 on release and due to orbs and focusing issues returned within days for a Panasonic FZ200. On offer on Amazon at Christmas for £250 decided to try again. The results are very good for a bridge camera, probably the best excepting Sony’s mega priced RX10,definitely better than the FZ200 at 100% viewing and cropped printing. However the slow focusing and slow write times issues are still present. Excellent on static subjects but when used on subjects such as wildlife and grandkids kept missing too many shots due to poor focusing and less than stellar image stabilisation. Took the FZ200 out and used it. Performed much better than the X-S1, not missing any shots with pin sharp photos. Recommend X-S1 highly for landscape and macro but when using for moving subjects, zoom and focus performance beyond 400mm is very poor. Built in flash has excellent coverage for general and macro photographs. The standard colour reproduction is also excellent on both inside and exterior subjects. As a result of missing too many shots have boxed the X-S1 and continue to use FZ200, that 600mm F2.8 lens is still the best on any bridge camera currently available and Panasonics focusing and OIS system is the best of the bridge cameras I have tried, includes Canon and Nikon.

  • dougsinnott

    Sorry,Edward,just read your comments!
    I have found the image quality on the Fuji to be better than my previous Panasonics,with their smaller sensor,especially at higher ISOs,and the viewfinder to be much superior to any competitor,and better even than my newer Sony DSLR.
    The colours produced by my XS1 are so vibrant,and the images as printed out at larger sizes are comparable in quality to my DSLRs,unless blown up to silly sizes on the p c.
    So the Xs1 must be the best all in one currently available,and I find I use my DSLRs less and less these days!

  • Doug Sinnott

    I have had my XS-1 for over 6 months,and been most impressed by the quality of it’s images,particularly close-ups.
    I use the “Pro Low-Light Mode” a lot for close-ups of flowers,etc.,and it’s just great!
    Although image size is reduced,it combines 3 or 4 images,at different ISO settings,etc.,and the final image seems sharper than the full size,EXR image.
    Comparing the XS-1 images,with my Panasonic G2,and older Nikon D40,I have been very impressed,as the Fuji images seem more colourful,sharper,(at all focal lengths),so I’m surprised in your comments about the lens resolution,I just can’t agree!
    Most other reviews have been very complimentary about the Fuji lens quality,so you seem to be in a minority there!
    And I have been a keen amateur for nearly 50 years,so I think I know a good quality lens when I use one!

  • Doug Sinnott

    The longer I have this camera,the more I like it!
    Superbly built,with a great lens,it certainly is a great advantage to have nearly everything you need in such a versatile all-in-one package.

    The image colours,with the Velvia mode,are just superb,the Lowlight,and Pro-focus modes work really well,and,of course,the viewfinder and the rear LCD are in a class of their own.
    I also have a Panasonic G2 micro 4/3rds kit,but,although,techntnically,the bigger sensor should give a better image,in practise,I prefer the using the Xs-1,as the colours are that much better,and,to my eyes,every bit as good,even at 100%.
    I have discovered,after nearly 40 years,that cheapo filters on the front of my lenses can cause quite bad flare,if shooting into the sun,particularly on complex zoom lenses like the XS1.
    So,the filters are off,at least until I can afford better ones,and the images ARE noticeably better,so,if you are using EBay cheapos,just try it!

  • usama khan

    can i cahnge a lens to my xs1 i know the lens is fixed but i want to chnage the lens can

  • John Wilson

    I have been using the Fugi for some months and having owned a number of Bridge cameras over the years, consider this the best. The digital viewfinder, tilt rear screen and manual focus are way better than any of it’s competitors.
    It takes very good pictures, which for a bridge model, are excellent. I’m keen on wildlife photography and the zoom lens is ideal for this.

  • Chuck

    it’s kind stupid to quote the price for this camera and add “body only” when in fact, the lens cannot be removed.

  • Mr Keith Patrak

    I have had numerous film cameras over the years, Zenith, Chinon, Cosina, Canon, Pentax, Olympus and Nikon, all very good but heavy and the constant need to change lenses was a bind. Then along came digital and I had a Minolta Dimage bridge camera with a tiny rear screen, 5mp but the image quality was amazing. Later on i bought a Olympus E450 with two lenses, very compact, excellent picture quality but too small for my hands and back too constantly changing lenses. Then along came the Fuji XS1, back to a bridge camera but what a camera! Picture quality just amazing, lens range unbelievably, camera build faultless and fantastic, the BEST camera i have owned, love it, all that i need, well done Fuji!

  • Stephen

    I was thinking about buying the Fuji X-S1or canon’s SX50HS model both are bridge cameras and offer powerful zoom lenses, the price of the Fuji is that bit more expensive but maybe its worth it? Can anyone offer some advice?

  • Les Wilson

    Being a semi-pro, for the past 12 years or so I have always sworn by either my trusty brace of Pentax, or my sturdy Canon EOS. (I never quite managed to own a Nikon, though my wife has….??) Now an old foegy and retired, I decided to sell up and do away with all the heavy gadget bags and dust getting in when changing lenses, and I went for the simpler life of a Fuji HS20. Wow’ just the ticket…..though a little less all around useful than my DSLR’s.
    However, on reading the spec on the Fuji X-S1 I decided to rob my kids inheritance and buy one. WoW’ whay a piece of kit this is…..I honestly think, hand on heart, that this is the way to go. I know all the hardened photographers will instantly boo-hoo me, but then, they said digital would never take the place of film !!!
    I reckon with kit this good, nobody will be carrying bags of lenses in another ten years time.
    A Great Camera, No, a Great Photo System.

  • Chuck

    I bought this camera about 2 months ago. In general, image quality is pretty good, if not quite the same as that of my previous DSLR Canon XT camera + 2 zoom lenses (8mp on a much larger sensor). But having this tremendous zoom range and the flexibility it affords of never having to changes lenses is a good compromise in my opinion. It all depends on your own standards. Build quality is excellent. So is the zoom, the EVF and rear screen. So for me it was a great upgrade and so far I’m pretty satisfied.