Sony Cyber-shot H400 pictures and hands-on

Looking for a huge zoom? Then look no further. The Sony Cyber-shot H400 has a whopping 63x optical zoom lens that provides a 24.5-1550mm equivalent focal length. But can it deliver as big as its features suggest?

Sadly, no. We got to play with the H400 ahead of its official announcement and, rather disappointedly, found that it's one of those cameras trying to bite off more than it can chew. Having a huge focal length available is one thing, but actually being able to utilise it with success is another. And even when snapping long shots out of the window in the middle of the - admittedly grey, overcast and rainy - day it was tricky to get any snapped steadily at the 1550mm equivalent.

After flipping the camera around to face indoors and the autofocus system slowly slipped back and forth while hunting out a point of focus and usually failed to do so. It's far from Sony's finest in performance terms.

The trick is to not use all of the available zoom. But then that partly defeats the purpose of having a 63x optical zoom installed in the first place when we're suggesting capping its use to the point where autofocus is more reliable and faster. A model better set for that, really, is the earlier H200 - a camera with a 26x optical zoom.

The thing that will gather the H400 attention is its price point: it will cost £250 when it launches this April. For that money there is a lot on offer, such as a built-in electronic viewfinder that, despite being small and of limited resolution, we did find handy for using to compose shots.

We can't throw any major moans at the build quality considering the price point, and we like the inclusion of a li-ion rechargeable battery at this price. But otherwise this 20.1-megapixel CCD sensor snapper just failed to impress us. The 63x lured us in, but we unhooked when we looked deeper.