Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V Overview

Are you the type for whom there's no such thing as too much zoom? Hate running back and forth, framing with your feet, when you could grab your subject and bring it up close with the flick of a lever? The Sony DSC-HX200V might have been crafted with you in mind.

On the front of its SLR-like body is a whopping 30x optical zoom lens, and to assure you of its quality, it carries Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* branding. When shooting still images in the HX200V's native 4:3 aspect ratio, this mighty optic yields 35mm-equivalent focal lengths from a useful 27mm wide angle to a see-into-the-next-state 810mm telephoto. Maximum aperture falls from f/2.8 at wide angle to a rather dim f/5.6 at telephoto, though, so you'll not be shooting at maximum telephoto if the light's not ideal, even when considering the availability of Optical Steadyshot image stabilization.

Sony describes the HX200V's autofocus system as "lightning-fast", claiming a focus time of just 0.13 seconds in daylight, and 0.24 seconds in low ambient light of around 3 EV.

The HX200V doesn't just impress with the strength of its lens. Effective resolution is an equally lofty figure, with the backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor capable of capturing 18.2 megapixel images. That's a higher resolution than many recent SLRs, although the sensor itself is a 1/2.3-inch type with a diagonal of just 7.77 millimeters.

Since it's a backside-illuminated image sensor, light gathering should be better than that of a standard CMOS chip. That's because more of the surface area can be devoted to light-gathering, as the circuitry has been moved below the active layer of the sensor. Sony has selected a still-image sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 12,800 equivalents, although it's not clear if that is at full or reduced resolution. For movie shooting, the range is a much narrower 100 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend to ISO 3,200 maximum.
Images can be framed and reviewed on a 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder with a modest 201,600 dot resolution. There's also a 3.0-inch LCD panel with high 921,600 dot resolution, or around 640 x 480 pixels, with each pixel being comprised of separate red, green, and blue dots. The LCD will certainly prove a much better option for judging fine detail, thanks to the higher resolution, but the electronic viewfinder provides a nice alternative when you don't want to frame at arm's length.

As well as still imaging, the HX200V can also capture high-def 1080p (aka Full HD; 1,920 x 1,080 pixels) AVCHD video at a rate of 60 progressive-scan frames per second, or 60 interlaced fields per second, and movies include stereo audio. There are also three reduced-resolution options: either high-def 1,440 x 1,080 pixel that plays back at 16:9 aspect ratio, but with reduced resolution on the x-axis, high-def 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) or standard-def VGA (640 x 480 pixel). The 1,440 x 1,080 pixel mode is available at 60 fields per second in AVCHD format, or 30 frames per second in MPEG-4. The other reduced-res modes are all MPEG-4 only, and are captured at 30 frames per second. Two different stabilization systems are available for video: either the standard Optical SteadyShot used for still imaging, or a more powerful Active SteadyShot mode that combines optical and digital stabilization, with a resulting increase in the focal length crop. (Translation: wide-angle video is harder to achieve with this enabled, but you can manage an even greater maximum telephoto.)

Interestingly, the HX200V can save 13 megapixel still images during movie capture, without interrupting the video feed. This is achieved using Sony's "By Pixel Super Resolution" technology, a variant of digital zoom that uses both interpolation and pattern-matching to resample the low-res video frame to a much higher resolution.

Catering to fans of travel, the Sony HX200V includes a built-in GPS receiver. This allows photos and movies to be tagged with the capture location and bearing. The HX200V also allows GPS track logs to be recorded, so you can replay your route on a given day's shooting.

The Sony HX200V includes both USB 2.0 High Speed data and Mini HDMI high-def video connectivity. Images and movies are stored in 105MB of built-in memory, or on SD / Memory Stick Duo cards. Supported SD cards include SDHC and SDXC types, while Memory Stick Duo compatibility includes PRO Duo and PRO HG Duo types, as well as Micro and Micro Mark 2 cards with an adapter. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary NP-FH50 InfoLithium rechargeable battery pack, rated as good for 450 shots on a charge with the LCD display, or 490 shots with the electronic viewfinder.

Available from March 2012, the Sony HX200V is priced at around US$480. The only body color for this model is black.            (via)


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