Expert Review of Sony Cybershot DSC HX9V
The new camera on radar, Sony Cybershot DSC HX9V is basically a pocket superzoom camera with a 16.2 Megapixel sensor accompanying which are specifications like a 16x stabilised optical zoom lens, 24mm wide angle coverage and a 3in LCD screen. With a new 16.2 Megapixel back-illuminated Exmor-R CMOS sensor, which it shares with the camera announced along with Sony CyberShot HX9V, Sony Cyber-Shot HX100V 30x super-zoom, the Cyber-shot HX9V is capable of full resolution fast burst shooting and full HD 1080p60 video. As we have already seen earlier in Sony CyberShot HX5, Sony Cyber-Shot Cyber-shot HX9V has a built-in GPS receiver which appends lat, long, and altitude information to the image EXIF data. Sony has introduced some new panoramic and 3D shooting modes in addition to the composite modes - Hand-held Twilight and Anti motion Blur - for which its Exmor-based models are now well-known. The Backlight Correction HDR mode has been upgraded to use three rather than just two s hots and, like the earlier HX5, the HX9V provides full manual control (albeit still with only two apertures) in addition to Program, two intelligent Auto and a variety of scene exposure modes. While there's a lot of new stuff to talk about the two things that will occupy most people's attention are the new 16x zoom range and the performance of the new 16.2 megapixel CMOS sensor.
Design and Build Quality
You hold a simple Point & Shoot in your hand and then you hold a superzoom, there is a really significant amount of weight difference, superzoom being on the heavier side and Sony CyberShot HX9V is no exception, it is chunky and it is heavy. It looks and even the very feel of it reminds you of Panasonic Lumix ZS10 with very similar body styling and control arrangements. CyberShot HX9V has a bigger, textured grip on the right side of the body which, along with a thumb pad on the rear, provides a secure and comfortable grip. The rear panel has a four-way control wheel for menu navigation and one-touch activation of display, flash, self-timer and continuous shooting controls. There's a playback button, a menu button and a delete button that also activates Sony's excellent In-Camera Guide which provides detailed information and tips on all of the HX9V's functions including an interactive icon guide.
Focus and Face Detection
Sony Cybershot DCS HX9V gives you Sony’s usual face focusing technology. It can detect up to eight faces in a single scene and further you can set the camera to Adult or Child priority that shall optimize focus on children or adults. The Blink detection is rather delightful as it can be turned off or on to alert you when a subject’s blinking. Another cheeky but very simple little addition is the Self-Portrait Timer mode that using face detection technology automatically recognizes when a face enter the frame and triggers a 2-second timer than shoots. Finally and not the least is the Smile Shutter, with this the camera pauses the moment of image capture until the person in the frame is smiling. Very interestingly, the sensitivity of this smile shutter can be adjusted as per your need, with which you can make it either click on the slightest hint of a smile or set it high so as to not click until the subjects are smiling with their full set of teeth.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Sony Cybershot DSC HX9V has a 16x stabilised optical zoom with a (35mm equivalent) range of 24 – 384mm. That's a big step up from the 10x zooms of the earlier HX5 and the other current pocket super-zoom the HX7V and, probably no coincidence, exactly matches the range (and maximum aperture) of the Panasonic Lumix ZS10. What can you say about a compact camera with a 16x zoom range that encompasses a super wide-angle and a long telephoto, except that there are unlikely to be too many situations where you find you can't frame your subject exactly the way you want. Sony Cyber-shot HX9V's lens has Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation and, as on most other Cyber-shots, it's always on and has no configuration options. There's one exception to this which is that you can choose the more aggressive Active SteadyShot stabilisation in movie mode. The crops below are from handheld shots of the same scene taken at the full zoom extent of 384mm equivalent in Manual exposure mode at 1/10th of a second on the left and Anti Motion Blur mode on the right. Since you're unable to switch it off, there's no way of showing with and without comparison.
Screen and Menus
Rear of Sony CyberShot HX9V is mostly covered by a 3 inch 920k pixel screen. It has 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes it of the same shape as Panasonic Lumix ZS10 and Nikon COOLPIX S9100. It is ideal for shooting stills but when shooting 16:9 HD video you'll only be using part of the screen with black horizontal bars top and bottom.
Powerhouse of the device, NP-BG1 battery is charged in the camera using the supplied charger, or you can charge it while connected to a USB port. The battery has sufficient power for an impressive 415 shots using the CIPA standard measurements, though that will diminish with use of the GPS.
In today’s world and a technology so advanced, every other camera fancies Full HD recording and it would be a surprise if Sony Cybershot DSC HX9V didn't. What every other camera doesn’t do though is deliver a best quality of 1080p at 50 or 60 fps. There's also a 1080i (again, 50 or 60 interlaced frames) option. The 1080p mode encodes in AVCHD format at 28Mbps and there are two quality options, 24Mbps and 17Mbps, for the 1080i setting. Finally, there's a 1440 x 1080 mode which is encoded at 9Mbps. You can use near-silent zoom while recording movies and shoot still images in all but the 1080p50/60 mode. In AVCHD modes stills are recorded in a 16:9 format measuring 2304 x 1296 pixels.
Sony Cybershot DSC HX9V has a 16.2 Megapixel backlit Exmor R CMOS sensor that produces still images with a maximum size of 4608 x 3456 pixels. Files are saved as jpegs and there are no quality options. File sizes are typically around the 5MB mark. The shutter speed range is from 30 to 1/1600th of a second and the ISO sensitivity can be set from 100 to 3200 ISO.
Great 16 Megapixel image quality
1080p50 HD video
Superior Auto composite modes
Hi Resolution panoramas
Poor GPS performance (on test sample)
Only 2 apertures in Manual mode
Proprietary A/V port
Quality deteriorates quickly at high ISOs