The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V, first announced in February, is hitting stores in April and Pocket-lint has managed to get an afternoon with it for a hands-on play around Kenilworth Castle in England.

The new model’s key selling point is that it delivers a mind boggling 30x optical zoom in a camera that isn’t going to be “that” big or “that” heavy; “that” should give you plenty of chance to perv on your neighbours, and anyone else for that matter, from afar.

Thankfully, the camera comes with optical SteadyShot image stabilisation with Active Mode, which means that you won’t get a stack of photos that are all blurry because you’ve not been able to keep your hands steady - understandable at that magnification.

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30x zoom is as you might expect, pretty impressive, and it certainly allowed us to get close enough to see things that we couldn’t see with our naked eye - we estimate it’s the equal to walking about 200 metres closer to your subject - handy if you can’t physically get that close.

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But it’s not just about zooming in, the new HX100V adds more to the mix over and above the HX1, released last year, that it replaces.

One of the big changes is that it now comes with a manual zoom focus ring as well as the W-T toggle around the shutter button and this does give it an “SLR” like feel.

The ring can be used to zoom in and out, and then for manual focus, however it’s a long cry from the implementation of the control ring found on the Canon PowerShot S95. Unfortunately we found zooming in in this way on the pre-production model we were testing slower than using the toggle switch - that might be because it was pre-production.

Inside and you’ll get a 16.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS Sensor that is now standard across the company’s new Cyber-shot cameras - the HX7, HX9, WX7, and WX10.

That means, say Sony, that you’ll get a new high-res panoramic scene mode, that at the press the shutter button and sweep of the camera allows you to capture huge panoramic images with an incredible 10480 x 4096 resolution, over 40 million pixels.

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You’ll also get an intelligent auto mode as well as a superior auto mode. The difference between them is that the superior mode will also work to enhance the image with HDR-like effects when needed rather than just choosing the right scene mode.

Geotagging is via a built-in GPS, and this being a camera from Sony the chance to snap 3D images as well.

In our brief play the camera performed well, the superior auto effects appeared virtually instantly and the zoom’s stabilisation was good from what we can tell from the pictures we have. It’s worth pointing out that Sony have said that while the hardware is 100 per cent finalised the images are only around 90 per cent with final tweaks still to be made before the camera comes out in April.

Other points of note is that the Alpha fleck design has trickled down here to the casing, and that you get an electronic viewfinder as well as a 3-inch tiltable LCD screen on which to see all this stuff going on.

The camera is expected to cost around £400 when it hits the shops in April. 

We plan to have a more in-depth First Look review in the next couple of days