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Sony DSC-HX5V Review

 








My friends at B&H Photo loaned me another great camera to review, the Sony DSC-HX5V.   As I have said in my previous reviews, I am not going to spend time going through every menu and button on the camera.  There are plenty of sites you can go to for the technical details of each of these items.  My intent is to give my overall impressions of the camera and features I found useful.
















What’s in the Box:

  1. Sony DSC-HX5V Camera
    1. Features a Professional Quality G Lens, 10X Optical Zoom (25mm to 250mm equivalent)
  2. Battery and Wall Charger
  3. Hand Strap
  4. Multi Purpose USB/AV Cable Combo
  5. Female USB Dongle for Connecting Standard USB to Camera
  6. Instruction Manual (does not explain all functionality – see CD ROM) and GPS Use Quick Start Guide (Yes this camera has GPS)
  7. Sony Cyber shot Digital Camera CD ROM
    1. Picture Motion Browser
    2. Cyber Shot Manual

 

Initial impressions:








I found this to be a very nice compact digital camera.  The number of keepers (in focus and properly exposed) I got out of this surprised me.  I have owned a couple of other compacts and I can say they did not perform this well.  The auto focus worked fairly quickly and includes face, blink and smile detection. This camera also has a panorama mode that automatically makes wide angle panoramas for you.  It does have Sony’s G Series Lens, which Sony markets as a professional grade lens.  All I can say is that I got some really sharp and clear photos out of it.  It’s got a 3 inch LCD, 10fps at the full quality setting, HD video (1080i) and the 10X zoom all in one small package.
















Let’s take a deeper look into the modes available to you.  The first is the Easy Mode, which is a full auto mode that does not display very much information on the LCD.  I only tried this to see what it was all about, but did not use it again.  The second is the Intelligent Auto Adjustment Mode.  This mode will automatically switch between nine of the scene selection modes depending on how it interprets the scene (i.e.: macro, twilight, landscape etc.).  It also controls when the flash is needed, if it has not turned off manually.  This mode is really handy when you just want to point and shoot with no thought involved. 
















This camera also has manual controls for when you want to be a little more creative.  Control over shutter speed is from 4 seconds to 1/1600 of a second, and a choice of aperture of f3.5 and f8 at 25mm or f5.5 and f13 at full zoom.  The LCD will change to show the effects of these aperture and shutter changes.  I found this very handy for shooting indoors without a flash, but had problems seeing the changes outdoors in bright light.  In this shot my cat was sleeping in the bathroom sink (go figure), anyway, I did not want the flash to wake him up or overwhelm the scene since I was pretty close.  So I used the manual mode set the f-stop to f3.5 and the speed to 1/125 of a second and fired away.







The next mode is panorama; I have never had this feature in a camera before, so I really enjoyed the simple press the shutter; pan to the right ease of it.  Be sure to test out your panning speed, as my panoramas fell short of the width available when viewed back home. (I should have been panning more quickly to get more of the scene in)



 







Next is the movie mode, which like the name says lets you shoot movies in HD 1080i at 60 fps.  Not 1080p but better than a lot of its competitors.  You can also shoot a movie in any of the other modes by pressing the movie button on the back (right side).  There is also the standard scene mode with selections from portrait to fireworks.











A Backlight Correction HDR (High Definition Range) which will give you more detail in shadow areas of the photo.  The camera does this by combining two images of different exposure and blending them together to give you the most dynamic range.  Next is a mode called handheld Twilight, this helps you shoot in low light situations by utilizing the anti motion feature of the camera.  I did a handheld shot of my keyboard as I wrote this and as you can see, it came out reasonably well (what it does show me is that my keyboard needs a good cleaning). Along the same lines is the mode called Anti Motion Blur this also lets you shoot in low light without using the flash.  The major difference that I can see between these two modes is that the Anti Motion Blur used ISO 3200 (more noise), while the Handheld Twilight used ISO 2000 for the same shot.  Some more testing would be needed to figure out which of these modes would be the best in different situations.





Backlight Correction HDR

Anti Motion Blur























A couple of items of note:  This camera has a compass and GPS built into it.  The GPS information is all recorded in the EXIF Info, showing latitude, longitude, altitude and time.  This is great for placing the exact location of a photo on a map (some programs can do this for you automatically) or for marking the location for use in geo caching.  I’m not sure what I would need a compass for, but hey why not.  It always points north with a red arrow.  A caveat when using the built-in flash; if you are not careful in your finger placement your middle finger can obscure the flash as it is on the upper right near the built-in grip.









100% Crop of the above photo




Conclusion:

Again, this is a really nice compact digital camera.  It captured the images I asked of it with sharp accurate exposure and has modes that allow me to do most anything I would need.  While the manual controls are fairly limited; I recommend this compact camera to anyone as a small easy to carry alternative to a DSLR.  Perfect for those times you don’t want to lug around a larger camera.












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