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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX5V Review

June 2, 2011

I’m COMPARING this camera to my most recent camera: Canon SD1000 and Sony TX1. I’m just a casual photographer. The most surprising thing about this camera is the weight. If you’ve owned some high end Sony or Canon PowerShot cameras then holding this camera doesn’t “feel” normal, it’s way too light for it’s size…but that’s a good thing….sort of. They achieve this weight reduction by using plastic for many of the body parts (the SD1000 and TX1 are mostly, if not all metal). The back is definitely plastic, I’m not quite sure about the front. The mode dial (although very welcome) feels cheap.

That’s about it for the bad news. The good news is the GPS LOCKS FAST out of the box and the picture quality is very good, on par with 10-12 mega-pixel cameras. The Sony “extra” features such as panorama and 1080 HD video work as advertised and add value to the Sony versus the only current competitor (with GPS and a mega-zoom) the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 which has not been released yet. You can compare images between the two cameras on the Imaging Resource site as well as some others.

I’m was going to PURCHASE both this camera and the Panasonic to see which one I liked better, however I’m going to be keeping the Sony. I’m very happy with the ease of use, picture quality and the Sony extra features (such as panorama).

For a case, I’m using the Case Logic TBC302. It fits the camera perfectly with barely enough room in the front pocket to hold a spare battery. The Case Logic TBC303 is much LARGER but not too useful, for example you can’t put the battery charger with the camera. It could hold some credit cards or papers, though.

Update: Software
I usually NEVER install the included software because it’s so bloated or just not very good to use. However, the Sony PMB (which is on a CDROM or on the internal camera memory when plugged into your computer) is VERY good. Good in that it’s not bloated and it just works. You can do everything you expect such as organize and edit your photos or even update/assign GPS data. Also you can download updated GPS data (which helps the camera lock to GPS faster). I would dare say the software is nicer than Picasa or iPhoto due to the speed and built in GPS features. Some other things you can do but I have not tried yet: you can burn a video DVD (either a normal DVD or a AVCHD DVD with 1080i quality, but you need a PS3 or compatible player to watch those).

Update: GPS
I’m happy to report the GPS function works very well. I took a drive while snapping pictures as a test and then examined the recorded LOCATIONS. The location was being actively updated because it was able to differentiate my position between shots taken seconds apart going about 40 MPH. Very pleased.

Update: Picture Quality
On closer inspection, the picture quality is a bit soft..I wish I could have the camera automatically adjust the SHARPENING inside the camera (make it more sharp) but this is not a big deal as the PMB software has easy edit controls. You can also manually unsharp after you take the photograph. The low light performance is remarkable, especially the low-light modes that actively combine multiple images (hand-held twilight and back-light HDR modes do this). As long as you’re steady and you’re not shooting a moving subject you can get some pretty remarkable, low-noise images at night.

Other final comment: when you turn the camera off, there is a slight delay (fraction of a second) before the lens retracts. Not really an issue but just something I’m not used to with my previous cameras and something I just noticed as I’m usually taking quick impromptu photos,…off. The interface, although totally functional, is not as “refined” as on my Sony TX1 (with touch screen), the LCD resolution is noticeably LOWERbut, again, totally functional.

The mode dial is still BUGGING me, I feel it’s the first thing on this camera that will go…But only time will tell.



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