Sony Cyber-shot HX200V review - Quality

Quality

Sony Cyber-shot HX200V vs Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62 vs Fujifilm HS30 EXR quality

 
To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V, the Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62, and the Fujifilm HS30 EXR within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The zoom on all three cameras was set to produce an approximately equal field of view and image stabilisation was disabled where possible (Optical SteadyShot can’t be turned off on the Cyber-shot HX200V) for this tripod-mounted test.

  Sony Cyber-shot HX200V results
1 Sony HX200V Quality
2 Sony HX200V Noise
3 Sony HX200V Sample images

The image above was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity set to 100 ISO. The HX200V metered an exposure of 1/800 at f4.

Overall, results from the 18.2 Megapixel Sony Cyber-shot HX200V are pretty good. In these cloudy bright conditions it’s made a good job of the exposure and colour balance and produced a punchy image with a histogram that reaches to both ends of the graph. There’s good detail in the highlights and shadows, the white balance is accurate and the colours are bright and natural looking.

Turning to the crops, there’s a good level of detail visible and the edges are reasonably crsip and well defined. Taking all the crops together it’s clear to see that Sony has opted for a punchy, consumer-friendly approach to processing, particularly by comparison with the Lumix FZ60 / FZ62.

That works, up to a point. If you look closely at the fine detail it’s not hard to detect a slight clumpiness that gives these 100 percent crops a look not disimilar to that of an impressionist painting. No doubt this is the result of the particular combination of noise reduction and sharpening that Sony has employed and, in all likelihood, it’s the best result in terms of the balance of image detail and noise suppression that can be squeezed from the sensor and lens combination. If it’s a little too harsh for your taste there’s no RAW mode to apply your own settings to, but you do have the option of tweaking the sharpness, contrast and noise reduction settings from the main menu.

Compared with the crops from the Sony CyberShot HX200V the Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62 stands up very well indeed. They don’t have quite the punchy edge to them that the Cyber-shot HX20V crops have and neither are they noise free, but the slightly softer image detail and the organic quality of the graininess lends them a less processed, more natural look.

Compared with the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR, the FZ60 / FZ62 crops fare better all round. The HS30 crops look highly processed and edge detail has an aliased ‘jagged edge’ effect which is particularly visible in the balcony dividers in the final crop. The HS30 EXR also suffers from chromatic aberration, but you have the option of shooting RAW and processing the file externally to deal with it.

See how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony HX200V Noise results.

 
Sony Cyber-shot HX200V
 
Panasonic Lumix FX60 / FZ62
 
Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO


Sony Cyber-shot HX200V results : Quality / Noise / Sample images

Sony Cyber-shot HX200V vs Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62 vs Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR noise

 
  Sony Cyber-shot HX200V results
1 Sony HX200V Quality
2 Sony HX200V Noise
3 Sony HX200V Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V, Panasonic Lumix FZ60 / FZ62, and the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The zoom on all three cameras was set to produce an approximately equal field of view and, where possible, image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test; sadly this isn’t possible on the HX200V.

The above shot was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V. The camera was placed on a tripod, SteadyShot image stabilisation was active as it can’t be disabled on the HX200V. F4 was selected in Aperture priority exposure mode and the metering chose a shutter speed of 0.6s at 100 ISO.

At the 100 ISO base sensitivity the Cyber-shot HX200V crop looks similar to the outdoor crops in terms of processing. There’s evidence of some noise, but it’s fairly minimal. At 200 ISO there’s a significant deterioration with the text looking much less legible and the left edge of the memorial looking distinctly clumpier. There’s deterioration of a similar magnitude from 200 to 400 ISO and by the 800 ISO mark, the noise is so severe that no amount of processing can keep it in check. The text in this crop is well beyond any attempt at readability, the edges are indistinct and even the larger image detail is beginning to suffer.

Beyond 800 ISO, as you’d expect, things get progressively worse and from 1600 ISO upwards you’d be well advised to make use of the HX200V’s Hand-held Twilight stacking mode. This sets the ISO sensitivity automatically and is a marked improvement on the single shot ISO equivalent.

The speed with which noise increases and image quality deteriorates as you move up the ISO range on the Cyber-shot HX200V is really quite sobering. By comparison with its predecessor, the 16 Megapixel HX100V, the HX200V’s high ISO performance is, to say the least disappointing. I doubt whether many people will think it’s a worthwhile compromise for the additional 2 Megapixel resolution provided by the new sensor.

Compared with the Sony CyberShot HX200V the Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62 crops look pretty impressive. The FZ60 / FZ62 has an 16.1 Megapixel sensor which is why the crops show a larger area with smaller detail. At the base 100 ISO setting there isn’t much to choose between them, but the Sony crops deteriorate at a much more rapid rate than the FZ60 / FZ62 with the result that by 400 ISO the latter has a clear lead. By 1600 ISO I’d say the FZ60 / FZ62 is a full stop ahead of the HX200V.

In terms of noise performance I’d say the FinePix HS30 EXR also outperforms the Cyber-shot HX200V. Although the FinePix HS30 EXR hasn’t resolved the text as well in the 100 ISO crop, in terms of noise I’d say it’s cleaner than the HX200V crop. This advantage is maintained up the sensitivity range to 400 ISO, but after that the gap closes so that by 1600 ISO there’s not much in it. At the lower ISO sensitivities though the Finepix HS300 EXR wins out over the HX200V.

Now head over to my Sony HX200V sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Cyber-shot HX200V
 
Panasonic FZ60 / FZ62
 
Finepix HS30 EXR
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO Not available
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO
Hand-held Twilight 800 ISO +1EV
Handheld Nite Shot 400 ISO
Pro Low Light 3200 ISO

Sony Cyber-shot HX200V results : Quality / Noise / Sample images

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