The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V produces excellent photos for a compact megazoom both indoors and out, though pixel peepers probably won't agree.
If you're considering buying this instead of a high-resolution digital SLR, you'd be disappointed. There's plenty of usable resolution, though, 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 HX30V'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.
A few of Sony's shooting modes use multishot processing, in which the camera consecutively takes several shots and then combines them into one, which, depending on the mode, will do things like improve noise or exposure. However, it does not work well when the subject or the user moves.
In this case, I had the lens fully extended to 500mm and my hand moved slightly, which messed up the processing, resulting in a lot of blocky artifacts.
Since a big part of why you would consider the HX30V is the 20x zoom, at the suggestion of one of our readers, what follows are several photos all taken with the lens fully extended to 500mm (35mm equivalent). You will also find a link to view the images at their full 18-megapixel size. These files are large, though, so it might take time for them to load after you click the links.
As mentioned in the review and earlier in this slideshow, the HX30's photos don't look good when viewed onscreen at 100 percent.
The inset image is the 25mm shot of this building. What's shown is a 500mm photo of the statues at the top of the building.