Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V hands-on

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V is the company’s almost top of the range HX camera for those not looking for a zoom that will get them from here to the other side of the street and beyond.

That’s not to say that the HX9V isn’t packing when it comes to the optical zoom department. It comes with a 16x optical zoom of it’s own thank you very much, and while the model we had for a couple of hours had an incredibly slow zoom, Sony was keen to point out that we had a pre-production prototype and that zooming in should be quick and snappy once the final firmware is out.

But it’s not just about the zoom. There is plenty of the rather bulky HX9V that looks to take on other cameras in its peer group.

There’s the new 16.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS Image Sensor, and the large 3-inch display around the back.

In the hand the camera offers a good grip with a rather large thumb pad taking centre stage on the back of the camera above an array of buttons.

Stills are taken care of with a number of manual and automatic settings and Sony has added not only an intelligent auto, but a superior auto mode as well – presumably just to confuse.

It was only after we got the digital imaging category manager from Sony to explain that we could start to see the point.

Intelligent auto fixes your images by automatically picking out the right scene mode for the picture at hand, Superior mode goes one step further and let introduce HDR effects, merge pictures and basically work to give you “superior” results each time.

“The camera automatically recognizes the correct scene mode, then quickly shoots and combines up to six shots to produce images with greater clarity, optimum dynamic range using backlight correction HDR technology and lower image noise using 6 shots layering technology. Superior Auto intelligently detects 33 scenes for still images and 44 scenes for movies, making it easy to get the best shot,” says Sony.  

So did it? Well we could tell the difference and where impressed by the results, even though our sample shots aren’t production ready.

Moving on from intelligent and superior there is a new High resolution iSweep Panorama mode With high resolution iSweep Panorama mode that once you’ve pressed the shutter gets you to hold the camera vertically rather than in landscape and snap a panoramic shot. Doing so allows for a higher resolution photo and one that isn’t incredibly thin.

Elsewhere you get HDMI output – handy for playing back your pictures and movies on a TV, Geotagging thanks to a built in GPS unit, 3D mode (via a single lens and some in camera trickery), and 1080p video recording at 60 frames per second.

Our time was brief, and we were playing with a pre-production unit so we aren’t going to make any final judgements, however bar the size this looks to be an impressive compact camera.

The Sony DSC-HX9V UK release date is late April, with pricing to be around the £330 mark.