Sony Cyber-Shot HX9V review

Claiming to offer a professional, DSLR-like performance, despite a fixed lens and smallish sensor, Sony’s 16-megapixel, 16x optical zoom Sony Cyber-Shot HX9V was awarded best compact of 2011-12 by industry body EISA. The serious, chunky-looking model ticks the right boxes for the latest technological must-haves by hosting GPS, 3D shooting options and Sony’s auto-stitching Sweep Panorama mode (also offered in plain 2D), which very effectively delivers up to a 42.9-megapixel composite image. You also get up to 10 frames per second continuous capture, one-touch Full 1,920 x 1,080 pixels HD video and DSLR-style background defocus mode for a shallow depth-of-field effect.

Though users will need a 3D TV to use the camera to its full capacity, the alternative is to shoot a slightly curtailed panorama in Sweep Multi Angle mode, which presents a lenticular-like image that can be viewed on the camera’s own LCD. This appears to move when tilting the screen left or right; think of old 3D-effect postcards and you’ll get the idea. While not wholly convincing it’s fun nonetheless.

When it comes to regular photography this Sony is no slouch. On a half squeeze of the shutter release button it locks exposure and focus in a claimed 0.1 second. As expected, you also get tracking focus, so a subject remains sharp even if they change position within your compositional frame. Helping shoehorn more into shot is a lens that starts out at an ultra wide-angle 24mm equivalent in 35mm film terms, running up to 384mm at the telephoto end for dragging the faraway closer.

Though like any point-and-shoot camera colours can look a little flat on default settings, with the HX9V there’s the opportunity to tweak them to the nth degree, customise your settings and exert manual control over the likes of shutter speed and aperture. It also impressed with low-light shooting, producing usable results even at top whack ISO 3200.

The HX9 boasts a focal range and integral GPS unit to rival Fujifilm’s F600, plus 3D panorama options for compatible TVs

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the Sony comes across as a blend of Fujifilm’s F600EXR travel zoom in terms of versatility and the premium end S100 from Canon in terms of sophistication. The fact that its price tag falls below both makes it even more of a compelling buy.

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