With its 20.4-million-pixel sensor coupled with a stabilised 30x optical zoom lens, we find out whether the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 makes the perfect compact travel camera. Read the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 review...
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 at a glance:
- 30x optical zoom
- 24-720mm (35mm equivalent) Sony G lens
- 20.4-million-pixel Exmor R CMOS sensor
- Easy Wi-Fi shooting and sharing
- Multiple-interface hotshoe
- ±2EV dial
- Optical SteadyShot
- Street price around £320
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 review – Introduction
Sony’s high-end travel compact cameras have impressed us over the past few years. In 2012, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V won AP’s Consumer Compact Camera of the Year award, while the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V won the same award in 2013. The latest version, the Cyber-shot DSC-HX50, shares a number of features with its predecessor, the HX30, but it has also inherited some of its characteristics from Sony’s premium compact camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, which costs £2,500. These features include an exposure-compensation dial and multiple-interface hotshoe, but more about these later.
The HX50 has a 20.4-million-pixel sensor compared to the HX30’s 18.2 million pixels. The HX50 also has a greater optical zoom range (a 30x optical zoom compared with the HX30’s 20x) and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, the compact travel camera category is a very competitive market and the HX50 is up against some stiff competition. Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-TZ40 has an 18.1-million-pixel sensor but a smaller focal range, while the Olympus SH-50 offers a 24x zoom and a 16-million-pixel sensor, although both come with a street price of around £250 compared to the HX50’s £320.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 review – Features
Sony has opted to use the same Exmor R CMOS 1/2.3in sensor in the HX50 as in other cameras in the HX series. However, the new model has a 20.4-million-pixel sensor compared to 18.2 million pixels in the HX30. Sony claims the Exmor R sensor produces half the amount of noise compared to a conventional sensor using a back-illuminated design.
The standout feature of the HX50 is the extensive 30x optical zoom provided by the 4.3-129mm Sony G lens, which has a 35mm equivalent of 24-720mm. Of course, at 720mm there is the issue of camera shake, but Sony has used its SteadyShot technology to optically stabilise the lens to help avoid this. Measuring 108.1×64.3×38.3mm, the HX50 is currently the world’s smallest camera to feature a 30x optical zoom. With its extensive focal range, the camera is suitable for macro work, telephoto shots and everything in between.
The sensitivity range of the HX50 runs from ISO 80 to 12,800, although in iAuto it is limited to ISO 80-3200. After ISO 3200, the camera helps reduce noise by taking six pictures in succession and then combining them. These images are very quick to process thanks to the HX50’s Bionz processor, which is capable of processing 10 frames per second for up to ten frames and can be selected from the menu. Advanced Wi-Fi connectivity not only makes it easy to share photos directly with a smartphone or tablet and publish them online, but it also supports shooting directly from a smartphone or tablet.
As stated earlier, the HX50 has inherited some of its features from the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, one of which is an exposure-compensation dial. Exposure control is ±2EV in 0.3EV steps. The other feature is a multiple-interface hotshoe, which allows compatibility with a number of Sony accessories, including external flashes, microphones and the EV1MK electronic viewfinder. The EV dial is a brilliant addition to the camera, making it easy to correct any exposure metering inaccuracies.