Sony HX 10v Review
The Sony HX 9v was one of the best cameras out of Sony’s stable last year and won accolades for being the best travel camera around he globe. The sequel camera HX 10v bears the same ‘v’ tag which basically just signifoes GPS capabilities. Zoom ratio maxes out at a respectable 16x, but megapixel count has been upped to 18.2 from the HX 9v. Let’s dwell deeper into the device and have a look at what it has to offer.
Hardware, Build and Looks
The camera is held together with an attractive metal chassis, accented by a thick black band. Construction of the body paneling is sturdy, but the lens barrel feels flimsy by comparison. Meanwhile, the new motorized flash emitter is a modern–if annoying–update. This pop-up flash lens has been a case with a few of the recent cameras, and according to us though an unique innovation, it takes time to get used to because for people who have had similar cameras before, there thumb is supposed to be right over that area from where the flash pops out.
The HX10V’s lens offers the same 16x optical zoom as the HX9V, and is identical in design. The barrel construction doesn’t seem particularly solid, so we’d avoid dropping it. Mechanical action is relatively slow, and although this bugged us, most travel zooms have the same problem. The lens is controlled by a small zoom lever surrounding the shutter release, which is in sort of a cramped spot off to the right of the body.
The 921,000-dot LCD is excellent, with bright, vibrant colors and an extremely wide viewing angle. Despite lacking a tilting panel, we had no troubles in shooting a video with this device. Rather our concern is that the video may look better on the device than your computer screen.
The HX10V lacks a viewfinder, so this monitor is the only way to accurately frame shots, but the only way necessary.
The device is pretty light weight and fits easily into the hands , whatever way you mau hold it. The battery life is impressive as well, we easily managed 300 shots in one full charge.
In what seems to be an emerging trend this year, this camera’s flash emitter is fully motorized. It automatically extends and retracts from the top left corner of the body, whenever the current shooting settings require more illumination.As talked about before, this system does not really get a thumbs up from us. Though, the nicer part is that atleast the flash can be manually shoved down unlike devices like the Nikon S9100.
Image and Video Quality
First of all, using this camera is not a complete joy ride. It did give us a few troubles. The camera does have lots of scene modes including 3D panorama image mode.
The images are sharp in bright illumination but as soon as the lighting goes a little less, the image quality falls. The images are sharp in general, but the sharpness is heavily concentrated in the center. There is an element enhancement too, the mandatory processing software that gives cleaner images at the expense of realism. This software is the reason for the camera taking upto 3 seconds to process each picture.
The HX 10v is a big disappointment when it comes to colour reproduction. To be blunt, its poor. Colour saturation is also overboard, all maybe due to the compulsory image editing software. The trouble with color accuracy may be due to a white balance quirk. At “daylight” color temperatures, the HX10V’s custom white balance is actually less accurate than the automatic version. That’s highly unusual and this does correspond with the temperature of our color test lights, so they may be connected.
The ISO on the device offers a wide range, though it can’t be done away with. Videos captured with the HX10V do not exhibit the smoothness we expected from 60 frame per second footage. Moving objects have a stutter to them that makes some videos look unnatural. At the same time, significant motion blur affects those same moving subjects.
The HX10V records AVCHD video at a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels at 60i. Data rate may be set to the 24 Mbps maximum for AVCHD, or brought down to 17 Mbps to conserve space. One final option records at a resolution of only 1440 × 1080, and kicks the data rate down to 9 Mbps
Only two ports reside on the entire HX10V body. There’s a miniHDMI port concealed underneath a compartment cover on the right side of the camera, as well as an exposed microUSB terminal on the bottom. The position of the USB port makes tripod shooting very inconvenient, but we suppose few users other than ourselves will be doing studio work with this camera.
The microUSB terminal at the bottom creates a few problems, because then one has to keep the camera in certain desired positions.
The camera doesn’t boast of any special feature not available anywhere else, GPS works just fine without any wi-fi.
16 scene modes, including options like Food, Beach, Pet, Fireworks, and all the rest of the usual suspects. Interestingly, the background defocus mode gets its own stop on the mode dial, and we think this is a good idea, since that scene mode is among the most important. Apart from the scene modes, there is every possible option available to shoot in various modes, be it utomatic, programmed, manual, etc.
The HX10V offers GPS tracking and tagging, as well as an electronic compass. In addition to tagging of EXIF data, a real time Position Information screen can display latitude and longitude information at any time. The system also supports GPS logging, to record photographed areas along whatever route your travels take you.
Once you get used to the awkward buttons, the device is a nice buy for first time photographers. This camera features not one but two fully automatic shooting modes. Intelligent auto is a scene detecting auto mode, which means it analyzes your subject and attempts to determine what kind of shot you’re taking, such as a macro. Superior auto offers the same functionality, but adds some extra enhancement to reduce blur and noise.
The buttons on the rear panel will not make you comfortable straightway but because of the clear labeling, it wouldn’t be difficult to get used to it after a while. Things are much better on the top plate. The shutter release has poor tactility, however it’s almost ideally positioned for one-handed shooting. The power button is also in a convenient spot, and so is the low-profile mode dial. Never in our time with the HX10V did we accidentally turn it on or change the shooting mode.
Though Sony has added textured areas in the back and front for an effective grip, the contribute very little towards that. Though the size of the camera is right enough for one had functionality, but still we don’t have words of praise for the rear buttons.
Its a fun camera, good for everyday street shooting but don’t expect it to blow your heads off. The device is a disappointment when compared to its predecessor the HX 9v. With fairly easy usability, the HX 10v is a decent device for first time photographers, but is definitely lagging behind on the technical front. From a technical viewpoint, the device doesn’t live up to the expectations and scores average marks. If the device fits into your price range and you don’t want to grow into a professional photographer or are looking for a camera with a lot of scene modes and easy usage, you can go for it. Though, the interface and the software has its own share of troubles.