Sony has scaled back on its Cyber-shot lineup for 2013, but there was definitely still a hole that needed to be filled: an update to its top-of-the-line compact megazoom,.
Theannounced in February, with its 20x zoom lens and somewhat stripped-down feature set, seemed an unlikely follow-up for the generally excellent HX30V. The Cyber-shot HX50V, however, looks like a serious update.
The HX50V features a 20-megapixel Exmor R backside-illuminated CMOS sensor at the back of a 30x, f3.5-6.3, 24-720mm lens. Now, that alone isn't that impressive, but the fact that it's in a body that measures 4.4 inches wide by 2.6 inches high by 1.2 inches deep and weighs approximately 9.6 ounces makes it the smallest and lightest camera with a 30x zoom.
Shooting modes seem to be the same assortment you'd find on past models using Sony's Exmor R sensors, including modes for improved low-light photos, HDR, creative filters, and full manual controls. However, the manual mode is joined by aperture priority and shutter speed priority modes.
On top next to the mode dial there's a new exposure compensation dial and a Multi Interface Shoe for attaching compatible accessories including an electronic viewfinder, flash, or microphone. There's also a Multi Terminal USB port that's compatible with a remote control. The camera has built-in Wi-Fi as well, so you can use your smartphone or tablet to wirelessly control the camera in addition to transferring your shots to your mobile device for viewing and sharing.
The camera has built-in GPS for geotagging your photos, too, and, instead of just a plain pop-up flash, the HX50V's can be angled back to be used as a bounce flash. Looks like the placement is still where you typically hold the camera, though.
The camera still uses a small 1/2.3-inch-type sensor, so some might not consider this a true enthusiast compact. Also, the lens is pretty slow at both ends and it doesn't capture in raw, it's JPEG-only. Plus, it seems limited to the typical burst found on Cyber-shots: 10 frames per second with focus and exposure set with the first shot (and there's likely a lengthy wait while each of those 20-megapixel frames are stored before you can shoot again).
Still, it's certainly not targeting your average snapshooter, and the whole package looks like a pretty killer travel zoom. Sony must agree, too, because it's asking $450 for it when it comes to stores in May.
Want to see proof of how good it is? CNET Australia's Lexy Savvides has a full review with sample pictures and performance tests.