Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1 camera review
This innovative point and shoot will broaden your horizons
It’s rare that you’ll find a camera that ticks both the style and innovation boxes, but Sony’s latest feature-packed shooter is so impressive that it will turn the head of even the most seasoned snapper.
Although the camera is built for the point-and-shoot crowd, the HX1 packs a 9.1MP sensor into its chassis – technology that’s not too dissimilar to the company’s prosumer Alpha range of DSLR cameras.With such a powerful sensor at its core, the HX1 can truly show off some features that are genuinely impressive. The first of these are its zoom capabilities. There’s a glut of superzoom cameras on the market at the moment, so Sony had a lot to live up to – especially as the HX1 is priced around £100 more than its similar superzoom rivals.
Luckily, the camera pretty much takes care of itself when zooming. And zoom it can, up to a rather impressive 20x. Don’t expect any blockiness or grain in your zoomed images as it is all piped straight from the optics. The camera hasn’t cheated or manipulated the image in any way. While Autofocusing when zooming did take a good second in our tests, results were impressive nonetheless.
Images on the whole were strong and vibrant, even in low-light situations. In fact, another of the camera’s innovations is the way it handles night-time shots. Usually, shooting in minimal light requires a tripod to steady the shots, but Handheld Twilight capture mode means you can take night shots on the fly, with the camera working overtime in the background comping a series of shots together to make the perfect image for you.
And it works – even our clumsy and rather shaky hands (we’re blaming a hangover) didn’t hamper the low-light images, with the HX1 consistently relaying back decent shots.
As well as the usual abundance of Scene modes (landscape, snow, beach etc) available, there’s one of the most features we have found on a camera yet – Sweep Panorama. This feature wins top marks for ease of use, working so well it raises itself beyond its gimmicky leanings. Simply flick the Mode dial on the right-hand side of the camera to the squished in rectangle, hold down the shutter button and slowly pan from left to right (this can be switched in the menu options) for a stunning 220 degree image. No cutting and editing in Photoshop. No fiddly shot alignment. Just a simple, sweeping shot that even your grandmother could accomplish.
The results are better than you expect. When played back on the camera’s three-inch LCD screen, the shot glides across your peripheral, making even the most mundane shots (we know, as we’ve a fair few ones of the office) look breathtaking. Connect the camera up to an HD-Ready TV, via its HDMI connection dongle, and the pictures are a treat. Make sure you are slow on those sweeps, however, as some hasty picture taking led to faces in the portrait morph into the Elephant Man.
Full HD Video
It’s not just still images that the HX1 is capable of delivering, but moving ones too – in 1080p (with a touch of upscaling) no less. Shot at 30fps, you can record up to 2GB of footage on the camera, which is around 21 minutes. Not a bad bit of moonlighting considering the HX1’s day job is as a stills camera.There’s no on-board editing for video, so you will have to output your footage to a computer, but the results are ultimately impressive, making the HX1 a decent camcorder substitute.
There are a few niggles with the HX1, including no RAW format support, a huge amount of grain when your crank up the ISO and an LCD screen that isn’t quite full tile, but the HX1 is an easy to use, feature-packed addition to the superzoom camera market that will not disappoint.