While many other compact camera markets are diminishing in terms of sales, the superzoom compact – or travel zoom camera – is an area that sees continued growth. The combination of a small and pocketable body with a large zoom that offers an impressive focal range is appealing to many who don’t want to bulk of a bridge camera or DSLR with large lenses.
The Sony Cyber-shot HX50 breaks new ground in this area – it’s the smallest camera yet to feature a truly impressive 30x optical zoom. It’s so small, that despite having a focal range typical of a bridge camera, it still fits easily into a trouser pocket. That’s damn impressive, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee great shots.
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The Sony Cyber-shot HX50 features an Exmor R CMOS sensor complete with a resolution of 20.4 megapixels. Unfortunately, the sensor itself only measures in at 1/2.3-inches, as opposed to the large equivalent 1/1.7-inch units found on some competing advanced compact cameras.
The sensor is paired with Sony’s BIONZ processor, which delivers some impressive shooting speeds including a headline continuous shooting rate of 10fps at full resolution. The HX50 also features an ISO range of 80 – 3200, which can be extended up to ISO 12800 should the need arise.
There’s no denying, however, that the Sony HX50’s headline feature is its lens. The 30x optical zoom covers a focal range of 24-720mm in 35mm equivalent terms. Supporting the lens, which will no doubt be welcome for such a large focal range, is a Sony optical image stabilisation system.
The zoom is composed of Sony’s proprietary ‘G’ optics – as seen on higher-end Sony products – and features a maximum aperture range of f/3.5 – 6.3.
Another welcome feature on the HX50 is the camera’s multi-accessory shoe. Advanced users will welcome this shoe as it facilitates a range of accessories that extend the functionality of the HX50, including an external flashgun, electronic viewfinder or stereo microphone for video capture.
On the subject of video capture, the HX50 offers full HD video capture at 1920 x 1080 / 50p resolution with a data transfer rate of 28Mbps, as well as 1920 x 1080 / 50i capture and several other formats. The model also supports full use of the 30x optical zoom during movie capture.
As is the case with most compact cameras new to the market, the HX50 sports Wi-Fi connectivity. This functionality allows for the camera to connect to a networked PC or to either a smartphone or tablet on either the Google Android OS or iOS through a dedicated app. Through this app users can store their images wirelessly to the cloud, share them directly for review or remotely operate the camera should the need arise.
The Sony HX50 caters for those photographers wanting to take control of the capture process through full PASM shooting controls. For those wanting the camera to do the work, the HX50 features Sony’s Intelligent Auto setting along with a host of scene modes and nine ‘Picture Effects’.