Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1

Super zoom camera with Full HD video, sort of

Gripes over, let’s take a look at the DSC-HX1’s features. It uses a1/2.4in Exmore CMOS sensor with 9.1 megapixels (effective) and offers a maximum resolution of 3456 x 2592, down to VGA. On the top of our review sample was a sticker proclaiming that the DSC-HX1 offered “Full HD 1080 [video],” but that is stretching things a bit both literally and metaphorically.

Sony DSC-HX1

Sony is still punting Memory Stick storage on this model

The HD video spec is actually 1440 x 1080 at 30fps, and this is upscaled to fill a Full HD 1920 x 1080 display. You get two HD recording options at data rates of 12Mbps or 7Mbps, plus 1280 x 720 and VGA recording modes, all at 30fps. H.264/ AVC compression is used for encoding.

Other features include a Bionz processor, optical SteadyShot image stabilisation system, shutter speed range of 2-/4000sec in auto mode (extended to 30 seconds in manual mode), ISO range 125-3200, 9-point AF system, Dynamic Range Optimiser (DRO) for improving exposure and contrast, ten scene modes (such as landscape and portrait), Face Detection, Scene Recognition and Smile Shutter systems, various colour modes and colour filters, as well as Anti Motion Blur and Hand-Held Twilight modes. The last two involve the DSC-HX1 firing off six frames, and combining the information from them to reduce blur.

But we’re not finished yet. The DSC-HX1 uses CMOS technology to offer two novel features. The first, Sweep Panorama, automatically lines up and stitches together multiple panoramic images in-camera. The second, High-Speed Burst Shooting (aka continuous shooting), fires off ten high resolution frames in just one second – the PowerShot SX1 IS can only offer 4fps. Sony’s Picture Motion Browser photo management software is included in the box.

So much for the features, how does the DSC-HX1 handle? Well, the answer is, pretty well. The camera’s design is more akin to a miniature DSLR than a compact. It measures 114.5 x 82.8 x 91.8mm and weighs 500 grams with card and lithium-ion battery. It takes around three seconds from switch on to take the first shot but, be warned, if you forget to remove the lens cap, the DSC-HX1 spits it off the end of the zoom.

Sony DSC-HX1

A flip screen makes handling more versatile

You can use the mode dial to select the usual PASM modes, plus Auto, Easy, Anti Motion Blur, Hand-Held Twilight and Sweep Panorama modes. Just below the mode dial is a control dial. By pressing and turning the dial, you can easily select and adjust various parameters (such as ISO speed, aperture value and shutter speed) - it’s a very nice system.

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