Brian's Photo Blog — Article 160
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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.

For the past six years, Catherine has been happily using a 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-​500​mm 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.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 160
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