Sony has pulled the covers off its new line of Cyber-shot cameras and we were on hand to have a play with them. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V is its top travel zoom camera.
It features 20x zoom in that body, which is small enough to just about slip into your pocket; it's comparable in size to cameras like the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 or Canon PowerShot SX260 HS, measuring 92.9 x 54.4 x 13.4mm and weighing 254g.
In the hand it feels solid and, although similar in design to the new HX10V and H90, the Cyber-shot HX20V feels and looks like the grown-up camera of the range.
The metal body feels great and the rubber grip on the right-hand side is surprisingly effective. There is a rear thumb grip too, so holding the HX20V is comfortable and stable enough.
The controls are conventionally placed, with a top-mounted mode dial and a rear section of controls providing instant access to things such as self-timer and flash. Other quick settings are accessed via a press of the central button.
The mode dial offers a modicum of traditional shooting options - auto, scenes, program and manual modes - but also offers Sony's clever shooting options like 2D and 2D panorama and superior auto.
As such, the HX20V feels more like a camera for those who want things to be mostly done for them, rather than one for those who want predominately to tinker with aperture and shutter controls because dedicated modes for these are absent. That said, there are creative art options in here and plenty of goodies, so you'll not be left short when you want to try something a bit different.
In terms of technical specifications, the HX20V offers an 18-megapixel Exmor R CMOS 1/2.3 sensor. The lens gives you 20x optical zoom, giving you 25-500mm (in 35mm terms). It's stabilised by what Rachel Banin, head of personal imaging and sound at Sony UK, called the "absolute best anti-shake that money can buy". Just don't tell Olympus that.
The maximum aperture of the lens is f/3.2 which is average for this type of camera, but not especially fast. But as we've seen, in the smart automated world of the HX20V, that might not matter. Around the back is a lovely crisp 3-inch 921k-dot display.
In terms of performance and image quality, you'll have to wait for our full Sony Cyber-shot HX20V review before we pass any judgement, but from what we've seen so far, it's our favourite camera of the new range.
We've included a couple of test shots we grabbed too and we're impressed. The colours of the Matthew Willamson shoes look authentic and the lobster, captured indoors without flash at longer zoom, shows that the image stabilisation is working and higher ISO hasn't destroyed the picture.
The Sony Cyber-shot HX20V will be available from April. The price is yet to be announced, but you can expect it to be towards the top end of the range.