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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 - Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis



  • Recommended by TR
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 front angle


Our Score:


The HX5's overall performance is impressive to say the least. It starts up and is ready to shoot in approximately two seconds, and shuts down again in just under three seconds. In single shot mode at maximum quality it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.5 seconds, which in continuous shooting mode it three different speed settings, the fastest of which can capture ten shots at 10fps. The other settings are 5fps and 2fps. One minor niggle is that the continuous shooting mode is activated by a button on the top panel which I found myself constantly mistaking for the on/off button.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 top

The autofocus system is also exceptionally good. It has the option of centre spot, single zone or nine-point multi-zone focusing, and is amazingly fast in all of them. It does slow down a little at longer focal lengths and n low light, but still focuses reliably and accurately even in pitch darkness thanks to an AF assist lamp with a range of several metres.

The built-in flash is fairly powerful, with a range of 3.8m at 125 ISO, but the recharge time of approximately eight seconds is a bit on the slow side. Frame coverage is excellent though, and the flash is well metered, working equally well at very close range.

Image quality is, for the most part, excellent. The Sony G lens is particularly good, producing no distortion at any focal length, with excellent edge-to-edge sharpness and not a trace of chromatic aberration. I assume that Sony has learned some tricks from its long association with Carl Zeiss, and the results are superb. The level of fine detail recorded is among the best I've seen from a 10MP camera, and gives the 12MP TZ10 a fair run for its money.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 battery

Colour rendition is also superb, with rich well-saturated colours even in slightly overcast lighting, and exposure is also generally accurate, striking a good balance between shadow and highlight detail. The only slight issue in image quality is noise reduction at higher ISO settings, which is a bit heavy-handed compared to the many excellent examples I've seen recently. It's not at all bad, but there is some blurring of very fine detail at 400 ISO, and the 3200 ISO maximum setting is decidedly blotchy.


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 once again demonstrates that when it comes to technical excellence Sony should never be underestimated. The camera is well made, handles and performs extremely well, and is capable of producing very good results under a wide range of circumstances. It is a technological tour-de-force loaded with more features than anything else on the market.

Mark Horton

March 30, 2010, 11:01 pm

I'm after a new camera, currently have a Panny TZ5. Thought about getting the TZ10. However reading this review I really like this. What would you suggest?


March 30, 2010, 11:20 pm

Hi Cliff. Nice article as per usual. I'm perhaps too tired and missed it, but you normally tell us what the battery life is like. How many shots did you take before the battery went? The other thing is this GPS... there was another camera recently reviewed that had this capability, but having it on was detremental to the battery life. Would this camera suffer from the same problem, GPS on - little battery life?



March 31, 2010, 12:21 am

A good effort Sony - not sure about that video codec choice & I would love to see a faster lens than this, f2.8 at the wide end should be achievable by now. However, a nice compact (and with a reasonable MP too - no silly 14+ MP Hooray!!). If you can stomach paying £300 for a p&s...this does look alright.


March 31, 2010, 1:12 am

You got to be kidding

Checking the reviews from the Canon SX210, Panasonic TZ10 and the Sony HX5V I stumbled over a couple head scratchers.

How is it possible that with much less features than the HX5V the Canon and the Panasonic has the same 10 from 10 as the Sony?

How is it possible that the $399 Panasonic with half the video resolution of the Sony and also missing all the bells and whistles like 10 fps, HDR, HHT and much more can have the same value like the Sony HX5V what is $50 cheaper?

And the Canon SX210 with the same price as the Sony but totally outclassed is just ONE point below the SONY HX5V?

Come on people from TR, if we should take these ratings halfway serious, do not do such obviously miss ratings, that is embarrassing.

But I guess that if the value was rated correctly with 10 from 10 (show me any camera right now with a better feature to price ratio) and the feature point of the Canon would be at maximal 7 and the Panasonic at maximal 8 then it would be even clear for the Panasonic and Canon fans that the SONY HX5V is the new top dog in 2010 and that 10 Megapixel is better than the both 14 Megapixel cameras.

It would send a nice message to the companies and maybe they would finally get the message that the Megapixel race is futile.


March 31, 2010, 1:22 am

Not to detract from the fantastic array of features Sony managed to pack into this sized camera, just wanted to say that contrary to what's in the review it "only" does 1080i video, not 1080p...

Sarah Joyce

March 31, 2010, 2:19 am


Many thanks for an excellent review of the Sony HX5 camera. As a recent purchaser of the HX5 I totally echo your praise of this camera.


March 31, 2010, 5:00 am

argh there are sooo many digital compact cameras it's all far too confusing, I really liked that casio camera you reviewed a few weeks ago but this has 10x optical zoom and (esp.) GPS that would be quite useful to have, but the casio had 14MP which means BIG photos and going by the review the image quality was right up there too which is good for a high MP camera and the most important factor,

so a quick question would be which, in your oppinion, gives the best image quality on auto settings (which I would be most likely to use most of the time, in like for like conditions), or is there another camera of a similar price range that gives better quality pics?


March 31, 2010, 5:34 am

sony uk webiste says it records video on 1080i HD not 1080p HD



March 31, 2010, 2:02 pm

@costa - Cliff reviewed the Panasonic before he got the Sony. Unless he can see in to the future how is he going to know the Sony is better and mark it down??????


March 31, 2010, 2:49 pm

Another camera to complicate my decision making process! I am still holding out for a review on the F80EXR which has just been released as well. I can't ignore it's much cheaper price point, although some of the snazzy features on this Sony do look good.

Is a review on the F80 likely?


March 31, 2010, 4:08 pm

First post here. I'm a photographer looking for a decent P+S, have been researching for a while, and have found this site's reviews very useful. It amazes me though the praise this camera is getting. The specs are amazing, but is anyone actually looking at the pictures?! In every full-res sample I can find here and on the internet, at 100% the images from the HX5 looks like watercolour paintings! All skin and fine detail lost in great swathes of heavy noise reduction above 125 ISO. Take the cathedral picture - you can't even see the netting against the window it's all blurred out. Of course this affects many p+s cameras, but this is the worst I've seen in something so highly rated. Compare the pictures to the SX210 samples - regardless of other specs - or of course the S90, LX3. Canon and panasonic know how to retain a photographic look to their camera's images. How on earth does this deserve 9 for image quality???


March 31, 2010, 4:35 pm

You should do two more iso series, one for Handheld Twilight and one for AntiMotion Blur. These are suppose to be selling points for this camera. Don't be lazy like all the other reviewers.

Cliff Smith

March 31, 2010, 5:17 pm

To those who spotted my mistake, you're quite right, the HX5 records video at 1080i not 1080p; I have amended the text accordingly.

To Wii - You're thinking of the Panasonic TZ10, which had a battery duration of about 85 shots with its GPS switched on. With the HX5 I've taken about 170 shots, several long video clips and a lot of image playback, with the GPS on all the time, and the battery indicator is still showing three bars. Sony claims 310 shots on a full charge, and I have no reason to doubt this.

I would like everyone who habitually gets their panties in a bunch arguing over review scores to please read Den's comment, as he has hit the nail on the head. This is exactly why review scores in general are a bad idea.


March 31, 2010, 9:23 pm

This camera has made choosing one even more harder!!!

tam horan

April 1, 2010, 12:41 am

price compaison of above camera amazon us dollars 350 equates to 230 pounds uk

but in the shops here for 300 pounds upwards why the bid difference

Geoff Richards

April 1, 2010, 2:31 am

@Tam horan - not withstanding the current exchange rate ($1.51 to £1), the normal reason is sales tax. I'm lead to believe that most US prices require local state tax to be added afterwards, whereas the UK price has 17.5% VAT built into it.

£230 +vat = £270 inc, which isn't far off. UK / Europe also imposes different import duty levels on manufacturers for different products, leading to variations in price. For example, this is why most digital cameras limit their video mode recordings to 29m59s because over 30 minutes they are classified as Camcorders, and taxed at a higher rate.


April 1, 2010, 6:34 pm

I really can't decide between this camera and the Ricoh CX3 now. I did have the Lumix on my shortlist but i'm wary of the cracking screen people seem to suffer from all to often. Sadly noone has been able to confirm that the TZ10 has redesigned and strengthened the LCD so no sale!

Regarding the HX5v though, your review states that it has an all metal body but most other reviews say it has an all plastic body. Can you confirm either way for me?

Emmanuel Walter

April 2, 2010, 6:11 pm

How good is it in low light?

And how does it compare for video vs a high-range camcorder like the Pananonic TM-700?


April 2, 2010, 9:16 pm

Panasonic can now regret at leisure the sloppy development of the TZ10. The TZ10 is not a clear enough step forwards from the TZ7, which Panasonic have effectively recognised by changing TV adverts that were for the TZ10 into adverts that are for "Panasonic Compacts, TZ7 and TZ10". Time for Panasonic to react before all their competitors stream into the gap? Mmmm... TZ75 anyone?


April 11, 2010, 3:21 pm

The only downside I see with trusted reviews is that whenever something gets highly rated, retailers seem to increase prices. £325 now :(


April 16, 2010, 11:37 pm

Hmm... "No visible chromatic aberration" in the corner sharpness shot? Do my glasses need cleaning??


April 19, 2010, 5:52 pm

The downside of technological progress in compact cameras is the plethora of gimmicky functions that complicate things for the average user. Case in point is GPS, which may be a useful tool for a small minority, but I suggest an irrelevance to the great majority of compact camera buyers, even at the top end. Cliff - a question I have asked several times without anyone being able to supply an answer is why no compact features a remote wireless shutter release. This is old technology. I had it on a Canon APS film camera, and used with a mini tripod it was an excellent tool for images requiring the elimination of camera shake. It was also fun to use for candid shots taken at critical moments with the subject(s) unaware they were being photographed, and finally for group shots including the picture taker.


April 20, 2010, 12:03 am

I think you've answered your own question there, Grumpy1!


April 27, 2010, 3:42 pm

I'm looking for a long zoom compact and this seems to be topping the list at the moment after reading this review and others. However, I'd really like to see a review of the new Fuji finepix f80EXR, this is the only camera in this class which doesn't seem to have had much exposure from reviews. The only one I have managed to find suggests that the f80 exr has worse image quality than it's predessor, the f70exr which is putting me off even though it's a lot less expensive and taking into account that the sony has a lot more features. Any one any comments on the F80EXR, found a review and can trusted reviews comment on if a review of the fuji F80EXR is expected any time soon?



May 6, 2010, 3:28 am

I bought this camera, having had a need for a compact for some time and the excuse that my canon 30d died whilst on holiday i took the plunge. I'm extremely happy with the purchase, and those 'gimmicks' are great fun. The panorama, smile recognition, and low light functions are very easy to use, with impressive results, although they do take time to process, as does the flash recharge. The manual settings are extensive, and the auto mode recognises if your taking a macro, landscape, portrait and more so you don't have to fiddle with a thing. One thing, there is a fast record button for HD video which in the dark gets confused with the display button, which is annoying.

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