Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V benefits from a radical design overhaul compared to its HX60V predecessor. Does this make it one of the best travel zooms ever? Callum McInerney-Riley finds out
Sony Cyber-shot HX90V at a glance
- 18.2MP, 1/2.3in Exmor R CMOS sensor
- 24-720mm (equivalent) f/3.5-f/6.3 lens
- 3in 921,600 dot tilting LCD
- 5-axis image stabilisation
- New sleek, lightweight design
- Built-in EVF
With the rise in popularity of smartphones, sales of compact cameras have steadily declined. However, there are a few compact camera ranges, such as tough cameras and travel zooms, that still thrive, as they provide something that smartphones cannot.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V falls into the travel zoom category, with its seriously impressive optical zoom range of 24-270mm (35mm equivalent) inside a newly designed body that takes inspiration from Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III. The HX90V is smaller than its HX60V predecessor, and it promises better image quality and extra functionality, such as a tilting LCD screen and pop-up electronic viewfinder.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Review – Features
The Sony HX90V has an 18.2-million-pixel, 1/2.3in, Exmor R back-illuminated sensor. This is a lot of pixels to pack in to a small area, but those who wish to make large prints will find it useful.
Rather than the Sony G lens found on the HX60, a Zeiss lens is fitted to the HX90V. This all-new Vario-Sonnar 4.1-123mm T* f/3.5-6.4 lens is 30% smaller than the previous optic thanks to new aspherical elements and a floating rear optical group. With a 30x optical zoom (24-720mm equivalent focal length), the HX90V packs an extensive zoom range for a camera of this size, and allows users to cover every focal length a photographer is likely to need. Of course, at 720mm there’s a risk of camera shake, but Sony has used Optical SteadyShot 5-axis stabilisation to steady the image.
The HX90V’s sensitivity range of ISO 80-3200 can be selected either manually or it can be automatically determined using the auto ISO setting. There’s also the option for multi-frame noise reduction, which blends three images together to minimise image noise. Sony has said that the Bionz X processor inside the HX90V has improved in-camera noise reduction over the HX60, which is very important as the HX90V is a JPEG-only model and cannot shoot in raw format. This is where its most direct competitor, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70, has the advantage with its ability to capture raw files (see here for a comparative look at the HX90V and the TZ70). In burst mode, the Bionz X processor allows a speed of 10 frames per second for a total of ten images.
One of the standout features of the HX90V is the addition of a pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder with an impressive 638,400-dot resolution, which is similar to the one found on the RX100 III. The HX90V’s LCD screen has also been overhauled, with a new tilting screen fitted that flips upwards for taking self-portraits. When it is in self-portrait mode, the camera uses a 3sec timer to capture the perfect picture. The resolution of the LCD remains the same as the HX60’s, boasting 921,600 dots on the 3in display.
Video can be captured at a maximum resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, with a maximum frame rate of 60/50p, while other resolution and frame rates are available. However, with the redesigned body there’s no multi-interface hotshoe, so Sony’s microphone accessories can’t be used with this camera.
As you would expect from a Sony camera, there’s a comprehensive range of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and NFC. Using the Sony Play Memories app, users can connect the camera to their smartphone or tablet, share their images or even remotely access the functions of the camera through the app. This includes the ability to change settings remotely without touching the camera.
Many photographers will use the HX90V while travelling, which is why it has a built-in GPS system that allows users to geotag their images so they know where they were taken. However, for users who don’t want this, the HX90 model is exactly the same camera but without GPS functionality for £30 less.