The Sony HX200V is the company’s latest superzoom bridge camera and comes with a 30x Carl Zeiss branded optical zoom and an 18.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor. Other notable highlights include Sony’s own SteadyShot optical stabilisation technology, full manual control over the camera’s shutter speed and aperture settings, an expanded sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800, a range of built-in digital filters alongside backlight correction HDR and Sony’s Sweep Panorama, plus 1080/50p Full HD movie recording and built-in GPS functionality. Sadly though, one thing that’s missing is Raw shooting with the HX200V only offering JPEG capture – albeit in a variety of resolution and aspect combinations.
While 30x isn’t by any means the longest superzoom lens on the market (that honour presently falls to the 50x Canon SX50 HS), the HX200V’s zoom is certainly up there in the mix and on a par with direct rivals such as the Fujifilm HS30 (30x), Panasonic Lumix FZ150 (30x) and Canon SX40HS (35x). The Nikon P510 can reach a bit further at 42x however, as can the 40x Olympus SP-820UZ.
The HX200V is built around an 18.2MP, 1/2.3in Exmor R CMOS sensor, which is paired with a Sony BIONZ processor. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100-1600 in Program mode, although this can be extended up to ISO 3200 in iAuto mode and ISO 12,800 in Superior Auto mode. If you’re shooting in dark conditions then the camera also offers a Handheld Twilight mode – whereby the camera takes a rapid burst of images and then combines them into a single shot.
On the front the HX200V is fitted with a 30x optical zoom that provides the 35mm focal range equivalent of 28-810mm, and which can be further extended up to 60x using Sony’s Clear Image Zoom technology. This works in a slightly different way to a regular digital zoom; rather than simply crop and then enlarge the image in the centre of the sensor, the HX200V analyses the scene and then repopulates the image area with the ‘missing’ pixels to produce an image with a higher resolution than would otherwise be the case. This approach, Sony claims, enables the HX200V to produce sharper, less pixelated results at zoom settings beyond its maximum telephoto reach. The HX200V also comes with Sony’s proprietary Optical SteadyShot technology, which uses sensor shift technology to compensate for image blur at extended telephoto settings and slower shutter speeds.
In terms of exposure modes the HX200V is equipped with the full complement of PASM controls for semi and full manual control over shutter speed and aperture, along with the fully automated Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto options mentioned above. For those looking for a quick explanation of the difference between the two, the easiest way to explain is that Intelligent Auto is more of a straightforward scene recognition mode, whereas the Superior Auto mode opens up a range of more advanced multiple capture and image blending options that can sometimes prove useful in tricky light.
In addition to still photography the HX200V also offers 1080p Full HD video recording capture at 50fp, with a dedicated one-touch video record button on the rear of the camera offering instant movie capture. Sound is recorded in stereo although there’s no built-in microphone jack. High definition movie files are stored in the HDTV friendly AVCHD format, with the camera offering an HDMI port for direct connection to a compatible TV – you’ll need to buy the required lead though as its not supplied in the box.
This being a Sony camera, the HX200V also comes with a host of extra features. As well as the Clear Image Zoom technology and Handheld Twilight modes we mentioned above, the HX200V also features a GPS sensor that allows you to geotag your images with along with 2D and 3D Sweep Panorama modes. Add to that an ‘Artistic Picture Effect’ shooting mode, a new Digital Level Gauge for checking level horizons with, and the HX200V’s feature set undoubtedly stacks up well against the competition.
A 3in, 921k-dot TFT LCD screen sits on the back of the camera, and this can be tilted up and down through about 150 degrees. Should you want to hold the camera to eye level then the LCD screen is complemented by a 0.2in electric viewfinder with a resolution of 201k-dots.