Hands-On With the Sony DSC-HX20V Pocket Camera
Thursday 6 September 2012 — Category: Equipment
Today is my wife’s birthday. I’m not allowed to say how old she is, but I might be able to divulge that she’s exactly halfway between 50 and 60. No matter her age, the important point is what she received as a gift for her birthday.
Canon PowerShot SD550. With it’s seven megapixel images, meager 3x optical zoom, and old-fashioned 640 x 480 video, it seemed to me time to bring her up to the modern age.
After some research, I settled on a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V. This impressive little camera boasts a 20x optical zoom (25-500mm equivalent), 18 megapixel images, full 1920 x 1080 HD video, optical image stabilization, my beloved GPS capability, and many more features.
Even though it is 80% larger and 30% heavier then her previous camera, for a model with this capability it’s still a quite reasonable 4.21 x 2.44 x 1.38 inches (107 x 62 x 35 mm) and 9 ounces (254g). It’s not a large camera at all, just bigger than the very small Canon PowerShot SD550. I could very easily put in the front pocket of my jeans, which I did often during the past month.
In order to give it a good try to see what it was capable of, I took it with me every day for a month when I went on my habitual neighborhood walk. Many days I did not even take the camera out of my pocket, but eventually I ended up with pictures from 11 different days. They were shot in various, and sometimes challenging, lighting conditions, at all sorts of focal lengths. When at wide-angle, you can put the lens as close as one centimeter (0.4 inches) away from an object, and the camera will automatically switch to macro mode.
I used the camera at the full 20x zoom for numerous shots, both to capture objects quite far away, but also to take close-ups of nearer objects. Often, this seemed to work better than getting close with the camera in macro mode. I got some nice shots of rabbits and ducks which would not have been possible with a camera that has less zoom capability.
In order for this to be a fair evaluation of the camera’s image quality, I have not enhanced or improved any of the photos, nor have I cropped them to make object appear larger. The images appear exactly as they came out of the camera. All of the shots were taken with automatic exposure settings in the camera’s “Superior Auto” mode, although for a few of the pictures I manually adjusted a -1 EV exposure compensation.
Basically, the whole point of this exercise was to use the camera as a point-and-shoot, as my wife will, without applying my extensive photography skills and knowledge. Overall, I was quite happy with its performance and the resulting images. I took a total of 76 pictures, which I have narrowed down to the best 40 in the Sony HX20 Test 2012 photo album. They will give you a good idea of what this capable little camera can do.