Photographers who crave plenty of zoom generally look at superzoom cameras that are bigger than your average point-and-shoot, with giant lens barrels and SLR-like features. The HX50V isn't your typical superzoom trapped in the body of an SLR-wannabe though, as it's a compact camera with 30x zoom.
Design and features
In the hand, the HX50V feels very well-built, with a sturdy external construction and textured grips. The lens element, which cleverly hides 30x optical zoom, doesn't protrude too far from the front of the camera. It's a Sony G lens, which opens up to a maximum of f/3.5-6.3 from one wide-angle extreme (24mm equivalent) to the other (720mm).
Behind the lens sits a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor at 20.4 megapixels. The 3-inch LCD screen is bright and clear, boasting a resolution of 921,600 dots, which makes it easy to see in outdoor situations. The brightness level can also be tweaked according to personal preference.
The HX50V fits neatly in the hand, yet houses a 30x optical zoom lens.
At the top of the camera is a mode dial that has full PASM control, as well as regular automatic and Sony's superior automatic for low-light situations, scene selections, movie recording and sweep panorama modes. There's a pop-up flash that needs to be manually activated with a dedicated button at the back of the camera.
The HX50 also has an accessory port, which Sony calls a multi-interface shoe, just underneath the hotshoe. It can accept a range of accessories, from flash units to electronic viewfinders and microphones, backwards-compatible with existing options for Alpha, Handycam and Cyber-shot cameras. GPS is built-in to the camera, as well as the capability to track and log locations of photos.
Unfortunately, the viewfinder accessory is as expensive as the camera itself, with a suggested retail price of AU$499.
Want to see just how close 30x zoom gets you? Here's a comparison shot of the wide-angle end of the lens (top) and furthest extent of the optical zoom (bottom). If you need to get even closer, the HX50V lets you zoom digitally beyond the 30x limitation.
Sony has equipped the HX50V with connectivity options aplenty, including built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. Using the PlayMemories Mobile app (Android or iOS), you can control the camera remotely, as well as see the image in live view over Wi-Fi. Then, using the app, you can also download images and video to your mobile device.
Wireless control with the PlayMemories app is very simple. Start up the Wi-Fi function from within the camera menu and the app. The camera will generate a device-specific password; once it has been entered into the app, you can use the mobile as a remote viewfinder. There are only a few options available, such as a self-timer and no exposure control, but it's still very useful for capturing snaps when away from the camera itself. An added bonus is that you still get access to the 30x optical zoom from the app. Either videos or still images can be captured from the app, with the finished images saved on both the camera at full resolution, and on the mobile device at a reduced resolution.
A screenshot from the PlayMemories app, using a smartphone as a remote viewfinder.
Like most other Sony cameras, the HX50V has a dual card slot that accepts both SD and Memory Stick Duo cards.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 188.8.131.52Nikon Coolpix S9300
- 20.80.3Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
- 2.220.4Sony Cyber-shot HX50V
- 184.108.40.206Olympus SZ-31MR
- 220.127.116.11Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in seconds)
- 10Sony Cyber-shot HX50V
- 7.9Nikon Coolpix S9300
- 7.5Olympus SZ-31MR
- 4.1Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
- 2.5Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
(Longer bars indicate better performance)