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VINE VOICEon 23 May 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I absolutely love this camera! I have only had it for 4 days, and have spent hours taking photos with it already.

For background information, I am comparing this camera to my well-loved point-and-shoot Canon Ixus 90 IS. I have never owned a compact bridge or DSL camera before.

Here are my first impressions:

The body is well built and feels very sturdy. It weighs in at 613g including the strap, battery and memory card. When I add the weight of my case (bought separately) the weight goes up to 850g - this is heavy compared to my other camera, and I don't think I'll be taking it out and about for holiday snaps. For specific photo-trips though, the weight is OK.

Despite the weight, the camera feels very well balanced and so far I have not had any finger or wrist strain whilst taking photos.

The camera does not come with a memory card, but it does have some internal storage - sufficient for around 20 photos I think.

Even though it is an 18.2MP camera, the individual photos do not seem to take up too much storage space - around 3 to 4 MB per photo (about the same as my 10MP point-and-shoot camera).

I'm absolutely delighted with the photo quality produced. The auto setting is excellent, and the many extra settings allow for lots of creativity. I particulary like the blurred background setting - my portrait photos of my family have come out looking very professional.

The on-camera help facility is fantastic - if you press help it will display information that is relevant to wherever you are in the settings. I have learnt a lot aready about photography, although I do still have some way to go! You can even adjust the strength of the flash...I haven't tried this yet.

There is no paper manual or disc supplied with the camera - but you really don't need either. The camera plugged into my Vista PC and worked straight away, and as I have already said, the on-camera help is perfect with help providied where and when you need it.

The zoom is incredible - 30 times optically, and then another 30 times digitally. It seems to have some clever software on board to improve the digital image as it zooms in.

In addition to the LCD display there is also a view finder. This is extrememly handy in bright conditions. When you put your eye to the viewfinder, the screen goes off to prevent glare. I don't think the view finder is optical, as it seems to be a copy of what is being displayed on the screen. This is useful when looking something up in the help facility, as help is also shown through the LCD. Suits me fine, but I'm not sure whether top photographers would like it.

The panarama setting is wonderful - it works like you are taking a video, but then puts it into one image. No more stitching photos together on the pc!

In conclusion, I heartily recommend this camera to anyone moving up a step from a basic point-and-shoot camera.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is probably the best bridge camera that I've ever used. I currently have two DSLR's; one entry level Sony Alpha 200 and a Nikon D7000 series. After using this camera in all types of lighting and in various shooting modes I cannot find fault with it. It's not a basic camera, and easily outperformed my 4 year old Sony Alpha 200.

The CMOS sensor @ 18.2MP works superbly and this is coupled to a high quality Carl Zeiss lens system and a 30X power zoom plus the digital zoom that then takes over remains pretty smooth, I think they must have tweaked the software that upgrades the image. I really liked the on-board manuals that you can call up at any time on the (large for a bridge) LCD rear screen. The camera was really easy to set up and was good to go as soon as I'd finished.

There's so much to like about this camera it's really difficult not to sound like I work for Sony. I really liked the 3D shoot and when I played it back through my TV it looked really good. The ability to shoot a panoramic view by simply moving the camera and it then stiches the image together for you is also great. The camera can also detect up to 8 faces, well for some reason I was a bit dubious about that until I tested it out. It did what it stated. Shot a bit of HD video (You need a class 10 card for best results) when my wife did a charity run for breast cancer recently and it came out brilliantly.

For the money this is a fantastic quality feature packed camera. If I have a gripe, and it nearly cost the camera a star, it's the lack of even a basic memory card supplied with the camera. You'd think that Sony would want you to buy their memory cards so would include one to show you what they can do, but no, when you buy a memory card then you need to buy a class 10 the SanDisk Extreme Pro 16GB SDHC Card is a good one and it's the one I'm currently using in the camera.

If you want DSLR quality for a bridge camera price then this is well worth the money, or if you're stepping up from a point and shoot and don't want the expense of a DSLR and multiple lenses and equipment then I would recommend it without hesitation.
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on 17 August 2012
This camera is a replacement for a similar model which was purchased from Amazon a month or so earlier, along with a supposedly compatible replacement battery. Amajor problem arose when attempting to change batteries as the non-Sony substitute couldn't be removed. Fortunately Amazon resolved the problem so I now have a camera which I absolutely love. The 30X zoom spares the need to carry a weighty bag of interchangeable lenses and saves wasted time and missed shots whilst lenses are being changed.
The large tiltable rear screen gives good views and enables shooting from waist level or above head height. However,if you choose to use the coventional viewfinder it is almost impossible to avoid contact with the screen and leaving the inevitable greasy marks, but a readily available screen protector helps to minimise this problem. Apart from this difficulty the only other shortcoming is the lack of a lenshood, although I realise it would difficult to produce one to cope with the zoom range that this camera offers.
I am still finding my way around the variable settings and facilities on offer. I am sure that most prople will soon have the camera set up to suit their personal preferences and favourite subjects. The inteligent auto setting does everything for you, except take the photo, but if you wish to have more control of selection of shutter speed, or aperture, manual settings sre available.
It's not too big, or too heavy, and produces great results.
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VINE VOICEon 21 June 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the latest hybrid camera from Sony to fill the gap between compact and SLR digital cameras.

It feels very well made and is quite comfortable to hold for a long period of time with both hands. Try to hold it with one hand and you discover that the grip is about one finger too short and after just a few seconds it gets very uncomfortable. The controls are easily reached and logically laid out although I found myself accidentally pressing the flash mode button with the palm of my hand when holding it single handed. There is a dial around the lens which can be used as either a zoom control or as a manual focus ring. Presumably this is to add to the SLR effect. This is marginally successful in zoom mode (although it does work in the opposite sense to most SLR zoom lenses which I found very annoying) but in manual focus mode I had less success. The natural way to use the manual focus is when you are looking through the eyepiece (more on that in a bit) but as the resolution is quite poor through the eyepiece it is very hard to see what is in focus.

The screen is very large and clear and easy to see in bright sunlight. It provides lots of good information about the various camera modes including the life of the battery in the current mode. Very handy for long days out to plan your camera use. The screen tilts out and can be placed horizontally at 90 degrees to the body viewable either from above or below. Very handy for holding the camera high and shooting above heads in a crowd for example. Or getting creative and using low angles. The viewfinder is a digital finder with fairly poor resolution. It automatically changes from screen to viewfinder when you hold the camera close to your eye - which is a nice touch - or it can be selected using a dedicated button on the camera. It is quite hard to see what is in focus when looking through the viewfinder, yet despite this I have found myself using it a lot especially when taking advantage of the high zoom or sport mode. It is also great for bright sunny days. However it is quite sensitive to the angle through which you view it so you have to keep your eye directly in the centre or it can be very blurry.

The main selling point of this camera is of course the lens. The 30x zoom of the Carl Zeiss is stunning. And when that is combined with the superb digital zoom some quite staggering levels of zoom are possible and produce surprisingly good images even at 120x. The optical image stabilisation works very well even up to the maximum zoom levels. There is a lens cap on a bit of string which is such an unusual thing to find on a modern digital camera that I often as not forget to remove it before turning on the camera. luckily it just pops off and because it is held on with the string it doesn't get lost.

The flash is powerful and can be selected to operate in many different modes as required and expected of a high end SLR. There is also a GPS included which will tag your photos with a location at the expense of battery life.

There are a myriad of modes selectable via the large dial on top of the camera. These modes are repeated on a virtual dial displayed on the LCD screen and through the viewfinder which is handy sometimes if you are framing a shot and realise you have the wrong mode selected. However there is a pause of a second or two while the camera displays this information and this has led me to miss the shot on several occasions. The modes themselves cover every possible situation from sport through HDR to super sharp (where the camera takes a series of photos and amalgamates them in to one single sharp photo). One of the most unusual yet useful on a digital camera is the one which blurs the background of your picture. Very effective portraits are possible with this mode in almost any situation. The focus is also very versatile with several different modes depending on the subject.

Movies are also really good. 1080p looks sharp with vivd colours and the sound is not too shabby either from the top located microphones. No longer is a separate video camera required whilst out and about. Pictures taken during video filming are also of very high quality although it does take quite a while to write them to the disc and they are in 16:9 format.

I do have a few "buts" though. Although the camera turns on quickly there are often frustrating delays when you don't want them. Changing mode is one I have already mentioned but the camera also insists on displaying the image after you have taken it and you are unable to take another picture until it has gone. When in multi shot mode there is also a long delay while it writes the images taken to disc. I tried the fastest memory card I had - a SanDisk Extreme - but it made no difference. There is software located on the camera for PC users which I am unable to review as I use a MAC. Sony's comedy support for us Apple users is a hyperlink on the internal disc to a site which says to use iMovie and iPhoto. Genius!

The biggest but though is the picture quality. Fantastic features and an amazing lens along with excellent build quality and Sony have teamed all of that up with a below average image processor. In anything but bright sunlight the images take on an almost cartoony quality when viewed on anything bigger than the camera screen. My £70 Canon Powershot produces far better pictures than this in every aspect other than the zoom. This has been a fault with every Sony camera I have owned (and as a follower of the latest technology that is quite a few!) and it is about time they realised that a great lens and features mean nothing when teamed with a poor CCD.

There are many reasons to buy an SLR digital camera and there are many reasons to buy a compact digital camera. This device is a great compromise between the two. However it is let down by the picture quality so for me it has the disadvantages of a compact in that the picture quality is no where near as good as an SLR and also the disadvantage of an SLR in that you can't pop it in your pocket whilst out and about.
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on 29 August 2012
I was looking for a bridge camera as compact not good enough and dont have the time or finance to invest in proper use of a dslr, after scouring reviews and which? I decided to go with this (last compact was a cybershot and loved it)
The Camera is AMAZING so easy to use, took a shot of my son running passed indoors in low light and it came out perfectly!
Lots of settings and efffects you can use or amazing just on point and shoot.
Quality of pictures zoomed is brilliant and the speed from pressing button to shot the best Ive experienced on a digi of any kind.
Thoroughly happy with it and would reccomend to anyone!
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on 15 December 2012
I had been thinking about getting a camera for some time as the rechargeable batteries had died on my compact camera. I have also used SLRs in the past but really wanted something simple that didn't require carrying a case-load of accessories around with me. My photographic targets are wildlife in my urban garden, performers at music gigs (in low light conditions) and just general subjects such as family, landscapes, wildlife etc.

My mind was finally made up by the completely unexpected arrival of a greater spotted woodpecker in my garden and no camera to record the event. So it was off to Amazon to see what they had to offer. My initial viewing was for a DSLR but in my browsing I came upon the Sony Cybershot which looks much like a DSLR but has just a single lens.

After a little research I discovered that this Sony camera was a representative of a whole new range of cameras that I never knew existed - the so-called `bridge' camera. These cameras combine the ease of use of the compact camera but have many of the advanced features of a DSLR. All the major brands have examples of these cameras but I was drawn to the Sony because of its new Exmor sensor which is supposed to be very effective in low light conditions (and therefore useful for my music gigs).

Well to say my expectations have been met is an understatement. This camera is superb. It has a wonderful Carl Zeiss lens that can take wide-angle shots (27mm equivalent) for landscapes etc., but with the twist of a lever the optical zoom quickly enables you to bring distant objects into recognizable focus (up to 810mm equivalent) in crystal clarity. There is also an electronic zoom which doubles this focal range although the focus is rather `soft' at the extreme end. There is also a very useful `steady shot' facility which virtually eliminates camera-shake.

I have yet to discover the full range of abilities of this camera but I like the continuous shooting ability of up to 10 frames (in a second) - great for capturing birds at a feeding station. I have also tried various ISO settings which enables the shooting of subjects in low light conditions without having to use flash. However, perhaps the most surprising feature of this camera is its ability to capture high quality video at the press of a button. It will take full HD (1920 x 1080 50p) video clips should you require but you can select lower resolution if you wish (which I usually do although the quality is still excellent). There is a `steady cam' facility which greatly reduces camera shake allowing you to pan and zoom, even while hand-holding the camera. Be warned if you are looking to shoot the occasional video this practice eats up storage space so make sure you purchase an SD Card with large capacity and fast transfer rates to go with the camera (e.g. a 16 or 32 GB class 10 card).

The camera connects to your PC or lap top via a USB/HDMI cable and you can download the Sony PlayMemories software once you have registered your camera. This installs a basic editing and picture management suite which I have found both simple and effective to use. Be aware that the camera shoots AVC video files which while playable on your own PC, are not transferable and viewable on another machine. However, you can also download additional Sony software which enables you to create a DVD that you can play in any DVD player (in standard definition). The Sony software referred to above does not incur any additional charge and was also easy to install and use.

I have now had my camera about a month and have been very pleased with my photographic efforts so far. I have some excellent close-up shots of birds, some nice panoramas, and even a few shots of the moon. The camera is not a video camera and so you should not expect to take lengthy amounts of video but it excels at 5-10 minute clips, such as I require at music gigs. The camera has on-board stereo microphones and provides adequate sound quality. Yes, the sound quality could be better, but bear in mind this is essentially a stills camera that can also take video clips. If you think of the camera from this perspective I think it does a wonderful all-round job.

Lastly, the instruction booklet which comes with the camera is minimal but is rendered irrelevant as there is an on-board help facility available at the press of a button which is excellent and provides targeted information when you need it.

My verdict - for the money this a brilliant camera that is a `jack of all trades' and master of most of them. Highly recommended.

Oh, and the greater spotted woodpecker - never seen it again!
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on 29 May 2012
I started off with high hopes for this camera, and I must say, it has lived up to all of them! This camera combines the image quality and professional appearence of a DSLR with the "point-and-shoot" ability of a compact. It's 30x optical zoom also rates it above most DSLRs, (on which you would have to spend considerably more for such a feature).
It also has excellent macro abilities, so you can picture anything from tiny insects and flowers to distant aircraft ect.
Don't get put off by its complicated, proffessional appearence, many of its modes are completely automatic, although there are more complicated modes and settings, should you wish to try them out. For the most part, this camera is not that different to my fujifilm compact, a camera specially designed for ease of use, in many ways it is actually less frustrating because you can adjust the settings.
This camera also has breath-taking HD filming abilities, but be careful, two of the filming modes cannot be put onto stadard DVD.

All in all, this is an amazing camera, the picture quality and professionalism puts it above compacts, its ease of use, price, features and zoom put it above DSLRs.

Keep up the good work, Sony!
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on 26 February 2014
Review of the Sony HX200v

I bought the Sony HX200v in November 2013 (I managed to find one with the updated 1.01 firmware installed which fixed the noise control selection problem on earlier models). It was an upgrade from my Sony HX1 (which I still have – and use).

At first, I could not get the HX200v to take clear, crisp images – they looked OK on the camera’s monitor, but when uploaded onto my computer, they were “blurry”. I persevered however, and after reading many reviews and “hints & tips” from HX200v owners I can now say that 95% of my photos come out sharp!

With a bit of perseverance, the Sony HX200v is capable of producing excellent clear and crisp images. It does produce excellent “snapshots” using the “auto” settings (I find “Intelligent Auto” produces better images than “Superior Auto”). However, if you want to get the very best images from this camera, you definitely have to “learn” to use it – mainly by taking snaps using different settings. Also, (as is typical with many small sensor digital cameras) the Sony HX200 produces much better images when the daylight is good – it is possible to obtain crisp images on dull, overcast days, but it’s a bit “hit & miss.” Experiment with changing the “ISO” settings too – it’s not always the case that this camera needs to be always set to the lowest 100 “ISO” setting. I’ve found it is capable of producing excellent images with the ISO set at 200, 300 and 400.

As the Sony HX200v has so many excellent inbuilt facilities, I won’t go into them here - you can easily find detailed and technical information about these on the Internet. However, there is one facility the Sony HX200v possesses which is worth a mention. This is the in-built “Unsharp Mask” image processing tool, which is accessed via the image review menu. What it does is place a rectangle on the camera’s screen which you can move and position directly over the portion of an image that you would like to sharpen. You then press the menu button and the Sony HX200v’s internal microcomputer sharpens the image in seconds. The image is then stored alongside the original. When you upload your photos onto a computer (or the photos printers in supermarkets) you see two identical images of each photo you have chosen to apply the “Unsharp mask” to. When you enlarge the images side by side, you will immediately notice that the “Unsharp Masked” image is noticeably sharper than the original. To get the best out of the “Unsharp Masking” facility it’s a good idea to experiment by taking snaps with the camera’s megapixel setting at different levels (from 2m to the full 18m) and the “Noise Control” set at the three different settings (“low,” “Medium” or “High”). After a few goes you will soon see which combination of megapixel and noise control settings give the best images. (I have found images with the mega pixel set at 5m and “Noise Control” set at “Medium” look the best - after using the “Unsharp Mask” facility.”)

(Incidentally, the noise control on the HX200v is much better than that on the Sony HX1 – which I definitely need to process after almost every shot).

Finally,

The HX200v is a lovely camera to hold, and use. (whereas my HX1 feels a bit cramped). The HX200v’s body is nicely contoured to make it feel very comfortable in your hands, and the lens barrel is nice and big to aid a good grip. When using this camera it feels like you are holding an SLR!

The Sony HX200v has an auto facility where the view on the screen changes to the viewfinder when you move your eye to look through it. If you prefer either one or the other, there is a button on the right side of the viewfinder, to manually lock either the viewfinder view or screen view. (personally I thought this button would have been better placed on the left side of viewfinder as it is on my HX1, which I find a little easier to reach).

The Sony HX200v is much faster at taking and processing shots than my Sony HX1. (especially when taking multiple shots).
The Sony HX200v has many more special features than the HX1.
The HX200v’s menus are quicker, easier and nicer to navigate through than the HX1’s. Also, the HX200v has a very handy built in help guide which you can press whenever you need help with a particular choice of setting.
The lens magnifies at 30x (plus the clear image zoom which doubles this to 60x).
(the Sony HX1 only goes from 20x to 40x). It is possible to obtain some extreme magnifications with both cameras – depending on what megapixel size you set the camera to. On the Sony HX200v you can achieve 56x magnification at 5megapixels, and as much as 76x when set at 2mp. Both settings produce excellent images in good light. (Although it is possible to hand hold the camera and achieve good sharp images at the higher magnifications, it is better to mount the camera on a tripod).
The battery life is much better.
The Sony HX200v has an in-built battery charger, which is fine, but ties the camera down for a couple of hours whilst it is charging, so it’s is a good idea to have at least one spare battery. You can also buy an independent charger for the camera – a charger for the Sony HX100, or HX1 will do as the Sony HX200v uses the same battery.
There is no CD manual for the Sony HX200v (Sony doesn’t provide a CD or written instructions anymore). You can easily download (for free) the full instruction manual from the Sony website).

Having also tried out (for a full day) the Sony HX100v, I feel that although both cameras can produce identical images, the Sony HX200 looks, feels and is the better camera, and is worth anyone upgrading. (Try to get the Sony HX200v model with the updated 1.01 firmware). (You can find which firmware is fitted by going into the Menu. scrolling down until you reach a “Suitcase” icon. Press middle button on 4 way control on camera and scroll down until you reach a “spanner and hammer” icon. Press the middle button on four way control and scroll down until you reach “Version.” Press the middle button again and you will see what version firmware the camera has fitted). Incidentally, even though the Sony HX200v has 18mega pixels – which produce excellent images – I feel the camera produces slightly better images if the 10mp, 5mp or sometimes even the 2mp settings.

I can thoroughly recommend the Sony HX200v.

Phil Edwards.
North Wales.
Feb 2014
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on 27 July 2012
I have a compact camera which is fine for taking in your pocket when going on holidays abroad or taking casual photos but it is limited in zoom etc. so I did a lot of research on various web sites and decided to purchase a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V Bridge camera. Great buy. I have only had it a few weeks but the quality of the photos are great. Very surprised at quality of the videos. Anything you need to know about the camera, shooting or the large amount of setting are all installed in the camera, great if you out shooting and you have a problem with a setting. I bought it at Amazon for £339 great price. I was also able to claim a £40 cashback from Sony so I only paid £299, fantastic. As I say I have not used it much but I am sure I'm going to enjoy it. If you are an amateur this is a great alternative to the more exspensive DSLR's.
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on 3 December 2012
On delivery, I practised using this camera taking photos of birds in my garden through windows. The zoom allowed me to produce excellent shots even showing individual rain droplets on the birds' feathers without any indication that the shot was taken through glass.

I purchased this camera to take on an Egyptian cruise around Lake Nasser. What stunning results it produced. It is quick & easy to use. Photos of birds in the very far distance were clear although I would recommend using a tripod for such use as it can be difficult to hold the camera steady enough. However, shots are taken so rapidly it is easy to delete those not up to scratch.

Try taking close up photos of the moon with this. The results are awesome!!
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