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ISO comparison

Macro at 33 percent

Macro at 100 percent

Color

Picture Effects (Miniature)

Picture Effects (HDR)

Picture Effects (Watercolor and Illustration)

Dual Rec

Intelligent Panorama

Zoom range

Zoom range, take two

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/250th, ISO 100)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/250th, ISO 400)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/640th, ISO 100)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/800th, ISO 100)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/125th, ISO 100)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/250th, ISO 125)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/250th, ISO 125)

Photos at 810mm (f5.6, 1/250th, ISO 200)

These are 100 percent crops from our test scene.

The photo quality from the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V is very good to excellent, though it really depends on your needs and expectations. If you're considering buying this instead of a high-resolution digital SLR, you'd be disappointed. As with all of Sony's 2012 18-megapixel Cyber-shots, most pictures viewed at full size aren't impressive. However, there's plenty of usable resolution here, particularly if you're shooting with plenty of light. Below ISO 400, shots look good printed up to 10x13, which is more than most people need. Getting a very good 8x10 with some enlarging and cropping is certainly possible, too. And if you never print your shots, the HX200V's photos look great on a computer screen or HDTV.

As the camera goes above ISO 400, subjects do get noticeably softer, but shots are usable at small sizes up to ISO 1600. If you want better low-light shots of still subjects, Sony's Handheld Twilight mode still produces some of the best high-ISO photos I've seen from a point-and-shoot. However, I wouldn't bother using the two highest ISOs, as they look more like artist's renderings than photos and have off colors.

Again, the HX200V is not a dSLR (it can't even capture raw images), but for people looking for a long lens and some better control over results than the average point-and-shoot offers, it's a safe bet.

View at larger size.

Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
The HX200V can focus as close as 0.4 inch from a subject. The details of this spider are soft and noisy when viewed at 100 percent, though. Scaled down to 33 percent, you still do get some nice details like the hairs on its legs. This is handheld, too. Had I taken the time to get a tripod and set a timer, I could have gotten better details at larger sizes.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
I did manage to get a couple of shots that looked decent at full size. This is a 100 percent crop from the inset photo, and while you wouldn't want to make a larger print of it, the quality is good enough for Web use at small sizes.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The default Standard color mode produces pleasingly bright, vivid colors, but they might not be accurate enough for some users. If what you're shooting doesn't look right to you or you want more-accurate colors, the HX200V does have a Real color setting and three other color modes in addition to Standard. Unfortunately, they aren't available for all shooting modes, including its auto modes. There are also adjustments for contrast, saturation, and sharpness.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
One of the big feature differences between this model and its predecessor, the HX100V, are the new Picture Effects. There are nine in all; this is Miniature, which mimics the effect of a tilt-shift lens.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The HX200V has a high dynamic range (HDR) mode for correcting backlit subjects, but it also has two for creative effects. The top photo is taken with its HDR Painting option; the bottom is Richtone Monochrome.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Two other effects, Illustration (top) and Watercolor (bottom) can be used either when you're shooting or as a post-processing option in the playback menu.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The camera's Dual Rec feature lets you capture 13-megapixel stills while shooting full-HD video (1080/60i). Just press the shutter release and you get a shot that's good enough for viewing on a TV or computer screen, or small prints. Using it in low light doesn't get the best results, though.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Sony has two versions of its Sweep Panorama mode, one regular and one Intelligent. The cameras with a Sony Exmor R sensor, which includes the HX200V, get the latter. The benefit is that it does a better job of handling moving subjects. A high-resolution setting is also available, which turns out much larger pictures with better print quality.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
While not the widest or the longest lens on a compact camera, the HX200V's 27mm (top) to 810mm (middle) gives plenty of zoom range for a compact camera. Sony's added its Clear Image Zoom, too, which digitally extends the zoom to 60x (bottom). The Clear Image zoom results are fine if used at small sizes and low ISOs, but enlarging them makes subjects look painterly.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Just another example of the power of this Sony's lens. Top photo is at 27mm; the bottom is zoomed into the center of the top photo at 810mm.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET

The following slides were all taken at 810mm (35mm equivalent) to give you a better idea of the HX200V's photo quality with the lens fully extended (and in general). Each photo has a link below it so you can view them at full resolution, but be warned, these files are large and take time to load.

View at full size.

Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The inset photo is just to give you an idea of how far away I was when I took this. View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
View at full size.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
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