Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 Gallery

       
                 
       

Landscape: 3.07MB, Sweep Panorama, 1/640, f5.6, 125 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

Another unique feature of the Sony HX1 is its Sweep Panorama mode which can grab a series of images as you turn the camera and automatically stitch them into a wide panoramic image. Here’s an example, showing a 180 degree sweep atop the Skyline Gondola balcony where we take our real-life resolution test photos.

It’s a doddle to create these images, with the camera guiding you through the sweep, and automatically making up for any wobbles as it stitches them together. Inevitably, there’s some imperfections: studying the image at 100% reveals some areas with ghostly duplications, such as the road in the middle crop and the telescope on the right, but it still remains a fun and useful facility, that’s capable of impressive results with ease.

         
   

The following images were taken with a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1. The Cyber-shot HX1 was set to its best quality 9M mode with Auto White Balance, Multi metering and the Normal Colour mode; DRO, NR, Saturation, Contrast and Sharpness were set to their default Standard options. SteadyShot Stabilisation was enabled for all these handheld shots.

The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS4 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS4 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Note: you may wish to open a number of galleries for direct comparison of detail and noise: Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Sample Images, Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Sample Images, Panasonic Lumix FZ28 Sample Images and Nikon CoolPIX P90 Sample Images.

Landscape: 3.87MB, Program, 1/1250, f4, 125 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

  This first shot was taken with the HX1 under bright conditions with its lens zoomed-out and the sensitivity set to the lowest 125 ISO.

There’s lots of fine detail when viewed at 100% and few optical artefacts to worry about, but noise is already quite visible in shadow areas.

Edges which should be crisp and sharp are also fuzzy at times, and remember this is at the lowest ISO under bright conditions.

     

Landscape: 3.95MB, Program, 1/640, f4, 125 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

  Another shot taken under bright conditions with the Sony zoomed-out to its widest angle view. Once again we used the camera’s lowest 125 ISO sensitivity.

The vertically-tilting monitor was facing directly upwards, allowing us to frame comfortably with the HX1 almost on the ground.

Once again, the crops are detailed, and a lack of darker mid-tones in this composition has avoided too much visible noise.

     

Landscape: 3.63MB, Program, 1/2000, f5.6, 200 ISO, 5-100mm at 20mm (112mm equivalent)

    The Steamship was being serviced during our test period, so the vessel was static. As usual though we increased the sensitivity to 200 ISO, and zoomed the lens-in a little, this time to an equivalent of 112mm.

The increase to 200 ISO has seen noise levels spread to more than just the dark mid-tones, and again edges which should be sharp look a little fuzzy. But there’s still a good amount of detail in the image.

     
   
     
   

Action: 3.28MB, Program, 1/125, f5.2, 125 ISO, 5-100mm at 100mm (560mm equivalent)

    Here we tested two of the HX1’s headline features: the ultra-fast 10fps burst mode and the 20x zoom at its maximum 560mm.

Unlike many compacts, the HX1 can focus quickly, which along with fast shooting, makes action shots quite possible. Out of ten frames grabbed here, eight were in sharp focus, which is a good success rate. There’s a little fringing and visible noise, but we’ll forgive the HX1 here for its fast shooting mode. See below for another example at 10fps.

     
   
     
   

Portrait: 3.43MB, Aperture Priority, 1/2000, f4, 200 ISO, 5-100mm at 20mm (112mm equivalent)

  For this portrait shot we zoomed-into an equivalent of 112mm, and set the aperture wide open using Aperture Priority mode.

Like most compacts, the depth-of-field has remained quite large, but by standing back and zooming-in more, you can increase the blurred background effect a little.

The HX1’s automatic face detection kicked-in and locked-onto our subject with ease. By sticking with 200 ISO, there’s some noise, but the subject is fairly forgiving.

     

Macro: 3.95MB, Program, 1/13, f2.8, 400 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

  For this macro shot we increased the sensitivity to 400 ISO and positioned the camera as close at it would focus in its macro mode; the HX1 can detect macro situations automatically, but we set it manually here.

We’re near to the closest focusing distance of 1cm here, but even with the lens also at wide angle, the distortion isn’t too bad and the field relatively flat – there’s some good details to be enjoyed here.

     

Indoor: 3.89MB, Program, 1/80, f2.8, 400 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

  Our first indoor shot was taken with the HX1 at 400 ISO under artificial light.

Face detection once again started automatically and locked-on quickly.

Viewed at 100%, there’s a noticeable increase in visible noise, but at least we’re not seeing the usual Sony noise reduction which smears-out fine detail.

     

Indoor: 3.95MB, Program, 1/13, f2.8, 800 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

  Our second indoor shot was taken with the sensitivity increased to 800 ISO. The HX1 opened its aperture to f2.8, but dim conditions still required a shutter speed of 1/13 – luckily the image stabilisation kept it steady.

The increase in sensitivity has resulted in another jump in visible noise, but again we prefer Sony’s relatively hands-off approach to noise reduction here, compared to previous models which smeared-out any fine detail at this point.

     

Indoor: 3.82MB, Program, 1/50, f2.8, 1600 ISO, 5-100mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)

  Our final indoor shot was taken with the sensitivity at 1600 ISO. Here’s there’s a significant reduction in quality with undesirable artefacts through noise and noise reduction. The image is also under-exposed, although we have a version with DRO Plus on the main review page for comparison.

So again, like most compacts, 1600 ISO should be avoided unless for emergency use or small emailed images.

The HX1 also offers a 3200 ISO mode, but it ain’t pretty. You can see an example of it in our High ISO Noise results.

     

Action: 3.92MB, Shutter Priority, 1/500, f4.5, 125 ISO, 5-100mm at 37mm (207mm equivalent)

  A unique aspect of the HX1 is its ability to capture a burst of ten photos at 10fps. But how does it handle real-life action? To find out, we visited the world-famous Shotover Jet and fired-off ten frames as one of the jet boats spun through 360 degrees.

All ten frames are shown below, and we’ve picked one for closer examination. The combination of quick focusing and super-quick continuous shooting allowed the HX1 to grab this action sequence with ease, and impressively, most of the frames were sharp even at 100%.

     
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