As for shooting performance, the HX10V is on par with other CMOS-based compact megazooms. From off to first shot is 1.1 seconds with a shot-to-shot time of 1.8 seconds. Turning on the flash, though, slows the camera down to 4 seconds between shots. Its shutter lag -- how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed without prefocusing -- is very good at 0.3 second in bright lighting and 0.7 second in dim conditions with less subject contrast.
The camera's burst shooting mode is capable of up to 10fps, but in our more demanding test it averaged 7.5fps, which is still very good. However, this burst shooting sets focus and exposure with the first shot, and once you've fired, you're stuck waiting for the camera to save the photos, generally a second or two per photo. Though its speed is excellent for a point-and-shoot, that doesn't mean it's going to be perfect for shooting active kids and pets. Especially since its many multishot modes require still subjects.
With all its capabilities, Sony managed to keep the overall design pretty simple. The body is a bit chunky, but will still fit in a jacket pocket. The screen is large and bright, making it easy to see in bright conditions (you might still struggle in direct sun, though). There's a nice rubberized grip on the front and an indent on back for your thumb.
Menus are easy enough to navigate, and if you're not sure what something does, there's a full manual stored on the camera accessible at the push of a button. Though most people familiar with digital cameras will have little trouble using the HX10V out of the box, some of the shooting modes have a lot of settings and need to be used in specific ways; it might take some time to get acquainted with all this camera can do. Also, the interface is a little sluggish, especially when changing shooting modes.
There are a few design things that were less than perfect. The buttons on back are very tiny and could potentially be too small for some to press easily. Similarly, the movie record button is small and you can barely feel when it's been pressed. Moreover, since it takes a couple of seconds for the camera to start recording, there were times when I pressed it and wasn't sure it was recording, only to have it start and stop because I had pressed it a second time. So part user error and part design problem with that. Also, the pop-up flash isn't in the best location, but that happens a lot with compact megazooms.
Sony switched to charging the camera battery in the camera via USB for some of its models. You can charge it by connecting to a computer or the included wall adapter. The battery life is a CIPA-rated 340 shots, which is very good, but if you're shooting a lot of video, have the display brightness cranked up, or are using a lot of the multishot modes or burst shooting, this will cut into your battery life. If you buy a backup battery you'll probably want to buy an external charger as well, or just plan ahead.
Lastly, with all of this camera's capabilities it's easy to forget that it has a built-in GPS receiver and compass. Turning on the receiver requires digging into the main menu system (since it cuts into your battery life, it really should be easier to turn on and off), but once it's on it'll start searching for satellites. That can take up to several minutes depending on how much open sky is above you. The camera seamlessly adds the information to a photo's EXIF data, so you can use software like Picasa or Google Earth to see where you were when you took your photos. There is also a GPS Log option so you can track and later view the path and images on a map.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX10V has a lot to offer. There are plenty of reasons to get out of auto mode here and overall the results are very, very good. It has a couple design issues and its best photos require some understanding of how the camera works. But, in general, it's one to put on your short list.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.