Sony’s flagship bridge camera, the Cyber-shot HX300, features a 20.4-million-pixel sensor and 50x, 24-1200mm f/2.8-6.3 Carl Zeiss super-zoom lens. So what does it mean for image quality? Read the Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review...
Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review – Build and handling
The HX300 may indeed be smaller than its predecessor, but at 129.6×93.2×103.2mm it is still the size of an entry-level DSLR. It is lightweight and can comfortably be operated for long periods even with one hand. Comfort is also helped by the handgrip, which fits the hand just right and is covered with tactile rubber for a steady hold. The body is still made mostly of plastic but, as bridge cameras go, the build quality is solid enough.
Most of the lens barrel is covered by a grooved control ring, which has two modes accessed by a switch on the side: AF/ zoom and MF, both of which handle very well. With such a wide zoom range precision is difficult, especially when each turn of the lens ring or the other zoom switch by the shutter prompts a big leap in focal length. On the plus side, zooming from one extreme to the other is speedy: taking pictures of a lake, I was able to zoom in on a heron before it took flight.
Sony’s revised lens design – with the stablisation group at the front of the lens – makes it possible to achieve sharp shots at telephoto settings. Stabilisation is available in two modes, to counter standard or extreme movement, but there is no option to turn it off. Without stabilisation at 1200mm, a shutter speed of 1/1250sec would be necessary for a sharp shot, but with stabilisation it is possible to use a speed as slow as 1/100sec – impressive stuff!
Like the RX1 and RX100, the HX300 uses the new BX1 battery, which Sony claims has up to twice the life of the batteries used in its previous generation of Cyber-shot cameras. The battery provides a respectable 310-shot life for the HX300. During the course of a day using this camera, often in its high-speed burst modes and with a spot of HD video recording, I found the battery lasted most of the day, which surpassed my expectations.
I would, however, like to see an improved shutter button – currently it requires a firm push to activate the shutter. A nice touch, though, is the custom button that can be assignedto any one of a number of key functions, such as white balance. All in all, the camera handles really well.