Customer Review

202 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Zoom, Camcorder-quality Video, But Heavy Noise Reduction, 22 May 2012
This review is from: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V Super-Advanced High Zoom Camera (18.2MP, 20x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD (Electronics)
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The Sony DSC-HX20V is currently Sony's top-of-the-range compact camera, and possibly the best travel camera on the market. It comes packaged in a small (15.4 x 7.4 x 14 cm) box that contains the following eight items (but no SD card or HDMI cable):

- Sony DSC-HX20V Camera (black)
- Sony NP-BG 1 Power Pack (lithium ion type G, 960mAh)
- Micro USB Cable
- AC Adaptor
- Power Cord
- Wrist Strap (black, but no slide adjuster)
- Instruction Manual (35 pages)
- European Guarantee Information Document

I spent the last three days testing out the camera and exploring everything it can do. Here are my observations.


- The camera feels very solid, with a reassuringly expensive weight to it
- The chunky grip on the front and thumb grip on the back make the camera easy to hold
- The 3" LCD is high resolution (640 x 480) and displays beautiful rich colours and deep blacks
- The user interface looks great, with clear icons and smooth animation
- The 20x optical zoom is incredibly impressive, enabling you to photograph details you can't see with your own eyes
- The motorised action of the optical zoom feels fluid and well-engineered compared to Canon cameras
- The Optical SteadyShot is superior to other cameras, with 3-way Active Mode stabilisation that minimises clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation
- There's an HDMI mini port, enabling you to connect the camera directly to a widescreen TV
- The camera accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC cards, in addition to Sony's proprietary Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Micro
- There's 105 MB of built-in memory, something that Sony don't make entirely obvious
- There's an on-screen Level, which lights up green when you're holding the camera completely horizontal
- There are lots of Picture Effects to play around with, such as: HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature, Toy Camera, Pop Colour, Partial Colour, Soft High-Key, Watercolor and Illustration
- The iSweep Panorama mode is very clever, stitching together a very wide photo while you pan the camera from left to right
- The Backlight Correction HDR mode is very useful, genuinely increasing the dynamic range of the camera, unlike Canon's i-Contrast
- The AVCHD Progressive video mode is as good as a real camcorder, recording 1920x1080 50fps video with rich colours and making full use of the Optical SteadyShot


- The 18M (4896 x 3672) Still Image Size doesn't offer any more detail than 10M (3648 x 2736)
- There are no 3:2 or 1:1 aspect ratio options, only 4:3 and 16:9
- You can't limit the maximum ISO speed that the camera will choose when set to ISO Auto
- Even photos taken at ISO 100 have heavy noise reduction applied to them, giving a blotchy look when viewed at 100%
- The sensor size is only 1/2.3", which is about as small as they get in compact cameras; not a good thing
- You can't turn off the review image shown after you take a photo, which limits how quickly you can take photos
- You can't zoom into photos in Playback mode if you're holding the camera in a portrait orientation
- The Battery Charge indicator doesn't show the percentage or remaining time left, meaning you never really know when it's going to run out
- The Battery Pack cover feels cheaply made and rattles when you tap on it
- The Background Defocus mode often doesn't work, saying "could not perform defocus"
- It's obviously not Sony's fault, but AVCHD Progressive video can't be imported into Apple's iMovie '11 software
- You can use the optical zoom while recording video, but the mechanism judders a little and makes a whining noise that's picked up by the stereo microphone

Overall, I think the Sony DSC-HX20V is an excellent product. It feels like a very reliable, high-quality camera and Sony have clearly packed in lots of state-of-the-art technology and features. My only real concerns are the heavy noise reduction and the fact that it doesn't shoot in 3:2, but theoretically these could be fixed via a firmware update.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 May 2012 23:19:55 BDT
Great review. One question. I have iMovie 09' version 8.06. Will this be compatible with the camera's video?? Quite a big issue if the video coming out isn't compatible... is all of the sony cameras video AVCHD Progressive??? Or does it shoot in formats compatible with iMove 11 too???? Thanks Andrew

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2012 10:57:16 BDT
Alan says:
Hi Andrew. The DSC-HX20V has two different formats you can record video in: AVCHD and MP4. Within those two formats are different quality options. Here's the full list of what's available:

Movie Format: AVCHD - 1080 50i/50p

- AVC HD 28M (PS) - Records in highest image quality (1920x1080(50p))
- AVC HD 24M (FX) - Records in highest image quality (1920x1080(50i))
- AVC HD 17M (FH) - Records in high image quality (1920x1080(50i))
- AVC HD 9M (HQ) - Records in standard image quality (1440x1080(50i))

Movie Format: MP4 - 25p

- MP4 12M - Records in standard image quality (1440x1080)
- MP4 6M - Records in 1280x720 image quality
- MP4 3M - Records in VGA image quality

Out of those seven options, six of them are compatible with iMovie '09 and iMovie '11. The only option that isn't compatible is AVC HD 28M (PS) because it's AVCHD Progressive. The latest version of iMovie (iMovie '11 version 9.0.4) does not support AVCHD Progressive video and will not import it. Fortunately there are third-party conversion apps available such as ClipWrap and Aunsoft MTS Converter which get around this issue.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2012 17:35:07 BDT
Its been quite a while since the initial review but i thought i would post a question anyway, because it is an expensive purchase and if you don't ask ask then you don't get :)

I just wanted to know about the picture quality, because as mentioned in the review the camera's sensor is very small, and it has a very high mega-pixel, which is quite off-putting. Does the small sensor effect the picture in any way? I really want good image quality, its why i want a new camera really. Thanks, Susie

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2012 17:53:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jun 2012 20:44:01 BDT
Alan says:
Hi Susie. Generally speaking, the picture quality of the HX20V is great. I shot a lot of comparison photos with it, against my Canon PowerShot S90 (both in Auto mode), and much to my surprise the HX20V photos were better exposed, sharper, and less noisy in low light! The only thing that was better about the S90 photos was that there was more detail in the highlights and shadows, due to the camera's wider dynamic range.

If you zoom 100% into photos taken with the HX20V, then you'll notice they look kind of blotchy and synthetic, and that's because Sony are using heavy noise reduction to get rid of the noise. But if you never do that, then it isn't an issue.

I'd recommend reading these two reviews and taking a look at their sample images:

Daily Photography News - Sony Cybershot DSC-HX20V review

Digital Versus - Sony Cyber-shot HX20V

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2012 18:06:57 BDT
Thanks so much for the quick reply, your posts have been very helpful!
I think i might actually take Amazon up on their £40 cash back offer.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2012 20:39:00 BDT
Alan says:
You're welcome. The good thing is, Amazon have an excellent 30-day returns policy. So if you buy the Sony HX20V, and discover you're not happy with its picture quality, just send it back and you'll get a full refund.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2012 12:56:34 BDT
Tomfrom66 says:
Have you actually done this?

I've always understood that if you open the box, it's no returns?

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2012 13:05:19 BDT
Alan says:
Yes I have. You can open the box for Electronics & Photo items and return them within 30 days in "Best Condition Possible", if the "performance or quality is not adequate". Always open your Amazon purchases extremely carefully, and keep all of the plastic seals and packaging, so that you can return it in a Like New condition.

Posted on 3 Aug 2012 07:51:21 BDT
camerasam says:
Hi great review. But one important point every one leaves out.. can the the lovely 3 inch screen be seen clearly on a bright sunny day. How any camera maker can expect you to take a good photograph when you cant even see what your trying to capture. fantastic review , hope you can clear this matter up for me . Thanking you in advance

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Aug 2012 17:10:46 BDT
Alan says:
As with any digital camera without a viewfinder, it's hard to judge the exposure of a shot and the colours when you're looking at the LCD display on a bright sunny day. Fortunately there's a live histogram available to assist you in getting the exposure right, and setting the white balance manually pretty much guarantees accurate colours.

If you wanted to, you could always buy a Delkin Pop Up Shade Universal 3.0" LCD Black (DU3.0M BLK) which should help you to see what you're trying to capture.
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