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...

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Sony Cyber-shot HX300

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Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review

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Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured with the lens set to its 100mm (4.3x zoom approx) position. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.

With a resolution of 20.4 million pixels, the HX300 has an output of 5184×3888 pixels, enabling prints sized approximately 17.3x13in at 300ppi. However, like so many other bridge cameras, the sensor is small, which means it is more crowded with pixels and consequently at a higher risk of noise. For example, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has just 12.1 million pixels on a sensor that is the same size.

The HX300 records still images in JPEG format only, that when processed (in-camera) are corrected for contrast, distortion and noise reduction. There is no option to turn off the application of sharpness, contrast and noise reduction, but each can be set to low, standard or high strength. Sony describes the HX300 as using ‘Adaptive NR’, which uses an algorithm that applies more noise reduction to areas like the sky where there is little detail, but less to areas of high detail, which helps to maintain an image’s integrity.

A 20.4-million-pixel sensor should exceed the 24 mark on the AP resolution chart reached by the HX300, but the camera’s performance still betters the lower-resolution competition, such as the SX50 HS. However, in low-contrast light using the ISO 1600 setting and above, the quality of detail dramatically declines and the Canon cameras performs better. I expect detail produced by a compact camera to resemble a watercolour when viewed at 100%, and this is especially the case with the HX300 at ISO 1600 and higher. In short, the camera performs well in good-contrast light when used in a manual exposure mode, but pays the price in low-contrast light mainly due to its high pixel density.

Image: Taken at ISO 400 but then brightened by +2EV, luminance noise is uniform in both highlight and shadow areas. 

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  1. 1. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 at a glance:
  2. 2. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Features
  3. 3. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Build and handling
  4. 4. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - LCD, viewfinder and video
  5. 5. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - White balance and colour
  6. 6. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Dynamic range
  7. 7. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Metering
  8. 8. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Autofocus
  9. 9. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  10. 10. Sony Cyber-shot HX300 review - Our verdict
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