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on 11 June 2012
I ummed and ahhed over this for ages and actually was looking for the famous Sony HX9 that won all the awards last year which I managed to track down. I am certainly no "pro" just a keen amateur with limited budget. I didnt want anything too detailed as it was just a point and click I was after, my SLR would be for the keener days.
I was looking for a simple travel camera for a trip and didn't want the hassle of taking my Nikon D60, which I cant fault for Image quality and toyed with the idea of getting another lens-but size, weight and price were against it. I actually bought both Sony cameras and did exact comparisons on several images with the Sony HX9 and my D60, with the HX20 winning the deal for me on several counts:
* The zoom is genuinely amazing, really blew me away with the clarity of shot on full zoom.
* The panoramic feature is genuinely astounding, for a city break to New York I really made use of the feature
* The Super I Auto mode is brilliant and highly consistent in taking good images without having to think too much
* Very easy to use, I personally don't see the need for a manual when the in camera help/ functions are this easy to use. The Help menu is great....
* The HDR mode blew me away, I never even used the flash taking some great shots in very low light which really blew my Nikon away much to my dismay...
* The HD mode is brilliant, totally negates the need for a separate camcorder for me which is great-the fact you can also take image stills whilst recording in the second from highest HD mode is also great for things like Kids birthdays where I wanted to get the movie and the still image.
I also have a Mac and was initally peeved about the issue with iMovie, but this is a Mac issue -not Sony! Apple are so arrogant they do their best to ignore Sony and Vice-versa, i just used a lower quality rating and imported into iMovie-but there are conversion software/apps about to do this is you sniff about. COnsumers have to be quite savvy these days with tech so it pays to do your homework, I knew about this imovie issue and just have to accept it-but you can plug the camera directly into your tv via HDMI and watch them in full HD. If you have a PS3 you cna downlaod Sonys video editing software and edit it through that-all quite easy. Again, the quality of the video really blew me away-sound is very good and NO noise from the zoom at all. The Zoom feature on the PS3/Panoramic mode shots were fantastic.
The weight and size were no issue for me, yes its a touch bigger than most but then its got an amzing zoom, great battery life (but i got a spare just in case) and still fitted in my pocket no problem.
I read a hundred reviews and used several different cameras-for me I think you really need to get your hands on one to use it and see for yourself, but for me I was totally sold on it after just a day of using it. The Sony summer cashback made it a a no brainer for me for a shade off £250.
Yes the camera does have a few toys like 3d, and selective colour modes-which i really like. I dont want/have the time to spen hours touching up images anymore so a few neat little tricks in camera are ok with me.
Im now thinking about selling my D60 SLR, which I love. The Sony HX20 just does such a good job on so many different levels I just cant justify the need of keeping a SLR now as this camera fits my needs so well. Ill also be selling my camcorder-its that good.
Several "pro" reviews harped on about some factors that edge this model out of contention due to over processing of the image. But again, im no pro-just an average Holiday snapper-but i do have the ability to see quality images-and this camera is pin sharp more often than not. The alternative was carrying around large slr and lenses which i just cant justify anymore.
So in summary, for me, as a travel camera/camcorder for the price I really couldnt find anyhting to beat it. I looked at Canon, Nikon and Samsung in stores and Sony really have nailed it as far as im concerned. I am a very Happy customer..!
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Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V is a high performance compact camera that is designed to excel in all expectations of a general compact camera, without pushing the price tag and advanced features into the field of a camera geared for much more professional use.

So what have you got? Well, the first thing that is instantly noticeable about the camera is the hefty weight of the beast. For an (almost everyday) compact camera, this certainly is a heavy one to lug around. Weighing in at 222g, the weight of the camera is something to bear in mind if planning on taking this around with you on an extensive trip.

However, it's certainly a sturdy and solidly built piece of equipment. The main rubber grip located on the right-hand side of the camera feels comfortable and secure in the user's grip. The additional thumb grip on the reverse of the camera shows clear ergonomic designing at work, and really makes the camera feel snug in your hand during use.

The pop-out flash located on the left-hand side of the camera is something to get used to if you haven't used a camera of this style before. Quite often a user will try holding the camera with two hands, with the left hand supporting the camera with a finger placed along its top. However, doing this will prevent the flash from popping-up when required. This is just something that you need to get used to. And after using the camera for a couple of days on our holiday, I soon became accustomed to holding the camera in just my right hand.

Now on to the main part of the review - the camera's performance. We've had the camera now for just over a month. During which time we took the camera away with us on a ten-day holiday to Scotland. During this period I hoped to become properly accustomed to the various ins-and-outs of the camera, putting me in a good position to review it. Already owning the Sony DSC-WX50 Compact Digital Camera helped enormously, due to the vast majority of the on-screen function displays and menu's being pretty much identical.

Like with the DSC-WX50, the simple user-friendly aspect and overall ease of use of the camera is one of the undoubted principal points. Yes there are plenty of additional and more advanced features included on the camera. But these can be explored and played around with once the user has become more familiar with the camera. For the basic use of the camera, say for everyday shots and video footage, this really is a simple case of learn as you go (and it'll probably only be a few minutes before you're snapping away with absolute ease).

The zoom is more than impressive - it's possibly the strongest feature on the camera. We're talking 20x zoom with up to 102x digital zoom. And the detail on the screen / photos is quite frankly awesome.

The picture quality produced by the camera is like nothing that my wife or I have previously experienced. It's just so simple to take stunning photos, seemingly always with perfect light along with sharp, crisp colours. After uploading the pictures on to the computer, the end results are incredible. The photos are also goliath in size, allowing you to zoom in without any loss of quality resulting in blurred pixelisation.

The HD video footage is equally as mind-blowing. Expect to be bowled over by video footage that looks so perfectly clear that it's almost as if you're viewing real life. I'm in no way exaggerating here, the end results are beyond anything that my wife or I have previously expected.

The large 3 inch LCD viewing screen reproduces the images in rich and incredibly detailed HD that shows the user exactly what the photo / video footage will be like. Zooming into the pictures 'on screen' is a doddle, with the menu dial allowing the user to easily move around the image whilst zoomed-in in order to see exactly what they've captured.

The panoramic function is as unbelievably breath-taking as with the previously mentioned DSC-WX50. Expect absolutely stunning panoramic shots that are produced with such ease, by simply selecting the panoramic setting and sweeping the camera in a fluid clockwise motion. A couple of examples of these panoramic shots using this camera are included in the video.

As for the GPS malarkey and all those monstrously impressive additional features. Well, they're there, on the camera, and I've fumbled around with them for a few minutes, but to be honest, those advanced features are something that will undoubtedly take a lot more time to get used to.

However, all in all this camera has proved to perform way beyond our expectations. The picture quality is absolutely breath-taking. The video footage is incredible. The general ease of use, for an everyday layman (like myself) is a definite bonus. The camera is strong, sturdy, ergonomically designed and packed with more features to gradually become acquainted with than you can shake a stick at. Quite frankly, for a compact camera of this sort, this really is the bee's knees.
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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2012
Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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.

Pros:

- 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

Cons:

- 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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on 2 September 2012
Over the last 40 years, I have used cameras by Nikon, Canon, Leica, Contax, MPP & Rolleiflex both professionally & for my own use. As I am getting on a bit, I found it difficult to carry my Nikon D300S with 18-200 VR lens, so I was looking for something smaller but with good quality. I looked at various cameras, read many reviews and purchased this little beauty from Amazon.
A good quality feel and the results are impressive - I showed some work colleagues two photographs, taken one after the other of the same location, one taken with the Nikon & the other with this camera. Two could not tell the difference, one thought the Nikon photograph was better but five said the one produced by this camera was the best.

The focal length of the lens is amazing, going up to 500mm.

The only downside is Sony's miserable attitude of trying to save money by not including a mains charger - you need to charger the battery in the camera via your computer - this lost it the fifth star.

Happily, you can buy one on Amazon very reasonably - but why was it not included in the first place?
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on 11 September 2012
I've had my Sony DSC-HX20V just over a week now and have found it a real pleasure to use.

It has to be said for all it's capabilities it is 'just' a compact camera; the image quality can't be compared to a DSLR or Compact System Camera; the images it takes generally don't bear close inspection but I think the whole point of this camera with it's 20x optical zoom, powerful flash and excellent image processing is to allow you to take pictures that won't need 'post-processing'.

Nearly all the pictures I've taken look stunning on a 1080 screen. I've not printed any yet but I'm sure they'll look similarly good printed up to A4 size.

My previous camera was a Panasonic FZ38 'superzoom' (27-486mm equivalent) and the Sony generally compares very well to that.
I'm particularly pleased with Macro shots. The flash is really powerful for a compact camera although in some shots was a little too bright. Generally the camera lens compares well with my old FZ38; the HX20V loses out at the zoom end of the lens where it struggles for light even when it's quite bright (occasionally optimistically 'popping' the flash up for shots of distant objects!).

Battery life with GPS on is quite good, although I've already invested in an external charger and spare battery. From full charge to fully drained I managed 330, 280 and 117 images and videos on consecutive days (on the first two days I took a number of high speed continuous shots and on the third day was spending a lot of time 'playing' with settings)

I'll list some of the things I don't like about the camera:

The "Clear Image Zoom" seems to be little better than "digital zoom" with images clearly showing distortion of the detail at 1080p.

At wide angle there appears to be some barrel-distortion; generally you won't notice this but in shots with strong vertical lines toward the edge of the picture it is really apparent; for instance radio masts leant quite obviously inwards. You can correct for this by shooting with a little 'zoom'; however some shooting modes (e.g. panorama) prevent the use of zoom.

As the camera is somewhat larger than a standard compact you'll probably want some form of case - it seems a little tight-fisted by Sony not to include one.

An external battery charger is not supplied (you can't charge the battery outside of the camera). I don't like having to leave the camera laying around outside of it's case and am a little worried the connector may become damaged after a few knocks.

I find using the P (program) or M (Manual) modes quite a chore as all the settings are buried within the layers of menu (although you can program the awkward to find custom button with one function). In general it took quite a while for me to adapt to the constantly changing menus (as you select different modes and functions).

The video button is awkwardly placed and quite hard to press; there is also quite a delay between pressing the button and the camera starting or stopping shooting. I've missed a few good shots and have some lovely shots of my feet at the end of clips. Because of the poor location and having to press firmly my videos usually jump around a little as I struggle to end recording.

When shooting in dappled sunlight the camera choose to use "sunshine" white balance instead of "shade" resulting in all the colours being muted. You cannot make changes to things such as white balance or ISO in the 'Auto' modes.

I found the video mode to be generally very good; although even with "wind noise reduction" on a lot of wind noise was recorded; far more than on my old Panasonic FZ38.

Panorama mode isn't as good as I've seen on some cameras and can be a bit hit and miss; especially if there is anything in the foreground (like power lines, nearby roofs or people) then these can end up 'sliced' or blurred. Unfortunately you don't see it until you display the image on a large screen. I've given up and am stitching photos outside of the camera in the old-fashioned way ;-)

I have an obsession with shots of the moon; unfortunately the HX20V can't produce a decent image turning sharpening down leaves no crater detail while with sharpening the moons disc shows straight lines and craters become hexagonal.

I now realise I could write for quite a while listing minor deficiencies; but the bottom line is that this is a really capable compact camera and I'm very pleased with my choice.

UPDATE:

WARNING - Be careful if filming a rock /pop concert. I took photo and video at a few concerts and the camera sensor was damaged by the lighting; there was a 'snail trail' of black near the centre on all images - it wasn't caused by a strobe or laser, but just a very bright stage light.
I've filmed at many concerts with other cameras, maybe I was unlucky, or maybe this camera is particularly susceptible to such damage.
Sony needed two attempts to fix the camera; but at least the turn around was fast and I have a camera in time for Christmas.

At the concerts the camera did struggle a little with focus (it didn't cope well with the fog machines being used), but generally was very good. Sound recording was a disappointment compared the my FZ38; perhaps due to the location of the microphones on the top of the camera. Lots of crowd noise was picked up. Using a low or normal microphone level didn't seem to affect this; the only other adjustment is wind noise reduction which dulled the crowd noise but also distorted / unbalanced the music and vocals.

UPDATE-2: I've already had two repairs (the first was for a light damaged sensor and the second for dust in the camera following the first repair); I've now seen there is more dust in the camera so it will be going back for a third time :(

At wide angle there is always some lens shadow in the bottom right of photos; effectively this means you can't get a good flash photo at full wide angle unless you're prepared to crop your photo afterwards. Zoom to 1.2x or 1.3x and the lens shadow has gone. This is a hassle, but I know what to expect and compensate. Unfortunately friends and family using the camera invariably don't notice the shadow and quite a few shots have been spoiled.

I've also given up trying to trim AVCHD videos in PlayMemories home on my Windows 7 laptop - I get an unsupported format error, their suggestion is to remove all free codecs (such as those that VLC player uses) and install proprietary codecs (but they don't supply any and won't tell me which I need!). Unfortunately having been imported to PlayMemories the videos cannot be edited without conversion by any of the free AVCHD software I've tried and I'm yet to find a solution to editing these.

Due to the accumulation of issues I've dropped my review rating from 4 star to 3 star.
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VINE VOICEon 24 May 2012
Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sony's latest compact powerhouse camera is, no doubt about it, impressive right out of the box. It's easy to use whilst also having an impressive feature set. The 20x optical zoom is fantastic, and with Sony's digital zoom technology added on you are able to get closer to 30-40x without a horrible blown-up grainy effect.

It seems incredible that such a high zoom can be squeezed in to such a small chassis, but Sony have managed it. On top of that, you get GPS, HD video (including stereo sound), 18 megapixels, panoramic mode, 3D, smile detection and more. It's all quite intuitive to use, and the camera's built-in help function fills in some gaps when you aren't too sure what a particular function does.

Just in Intelligent Auto mode, I was getting great pictures straight off the bat. The auto focus and face detection works a treat. But photos alone are not the whole package nowadays. One important feature for me in a camera like this is video, and the HX20 offers full 1080p HD with stereo sound. Again, with just automatic settings switched on, video is great. The auto focus really comes into its own here, keeping up nicely with camera movement. The picture is generally crisp and colourful, and sound is great too.

One feature Sony are clearly proud of is the Exmor R CMOS sensor, for low light photos and video. And it's sensational, especially on video. Prior to this I was using a Pansonic Lumix TZ20, a decent camera but pretty shocking in low light. Not with the Cybershot HX20, it loves it. A dimly lit room holds no fears for this camera.

Loads of great features, easy to use, a fantastic zoom lens, this is a very good package. But it's not without its cost (and I'm not just talking the slightly over-the-odds price tag either). The camera is a bit spartan in the looks department, but it's OK. However, at 250g it's not the lightest in its class, and overall I've found it a little heavy and chunky. It has a pop-up flash, which I'm really not keen on as I keep having to remember not to hold the camera there. And finally, for some reason, the USB connector is on the bottom of the camera, which is also where you charge the battery.

But having said all that, it's a joy to use and takes great photos and video. The weight isn't ideal, but the camera is generally still on the small side so quite pocket friendly. If you're looking for a compact, class-leading camera for your travels, I think the Cybershot HX20 is well worth consideration.
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on 11 July 2012
I wanted a compact point-and-shoot camera with great panorama function, because I travel constantly and love to photograph extremely diverse range of subjects from people to stunning landscapes, yet I need to travel light and cannot carry a huge SLR and lenses around. I am extremely busy and also don't have time to learn how to use a more advanced camera. This camera has been perfect. I have gotten some extremely professional and detailed photographs that are, I would say, comparable to ones taken with SLRs, yet most of the time I just point and shoot. The zoom is fantastic! The photographs taken with night setting exceeded expectations also. The panoramas are good in good light so are great for landscapes, cityscapes, a well naturally lighted indoor space etc but I did take a panorama in the evening of a bbq party but the light balance wasn't great, even after fiddling with all the settings, they were generally just dark and orangey. I recommend taking panoramas with a tripod (could be as simple as a table top tripod) for the best possible results. Also be careful when/if buying a case for this camera, I went with one of the two from the Sony LCM range, but most of the cases claiming to be for this camera are actually too small, so check the dimensions! I decided to buy off amazon as well because it was the best price I could find. Great value for money!
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on 25 August 2012
I've owned many cameras over the years, from a Zenith E, a Halina 35mm, an Olympus OM10, to a 7MP Canon IXUS, and I've just spent the last 3 years with a Panasonic TZ7, which I thought, back in 2009, was all I was ever going to need to take pictures and record video on (it was after all 720p, which was streets ahead of the old VGA). It took perfectly good images which looked great on the HD tv and had 12X optical zoom - who in their right mind would want or need more than this?! In fact I was so impressed with it, I bought the GF one too, and she loved it.
The only thing I eventually wished for was more optical zoom, and thats when I started reading reviews of 20X compacts, and after the usual for and against dilemmas, I pointed my credit card in the direction of the Sony.

Now then, we've just returned from a week in Northumberland and last night reviewed the pictures back on the HDTV via a 3m mini HDMI to HDMI lead. I went first with the HX20 (the GF's still got her trusty TZ7) and all I can say is - 'STUNNING'. Superbly clear images, and great shots too with the 'miniature' and 'part colour' features. The low light shots were fantastic too, much better than I remember the TZ7 being. And as for the 1080p video, well are you sitting comfortably - ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING in every conceivable way. It was as though you are actually 'there', and seemed even clearer than broadcast HD tv pictures. Amazing.

The final jaw dropper, though, was when we reviewed the TZ7's images. Even the GF (who is now a little fed-up) had to admit that the Panasonics images, and we never thought we'd say this, actually looked 'rough' in comparison to the Sony's. We were both really quite stunned.
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on 15 May 2012
I have had this camera for a couple of weeks now and i think it is the best thing ever!!. Having purchased the fujifilm finepix 770EXR from QVC and sent that back as although the stills were good, the video was terrible , it would never focus properly. so after looking at all the other options i decided on the sony hx20. the stills are crystal clear. all the functions are easy to use, the flash pops up which is useful although the low light pictures are so good most times there is no need for flash!! It feels nice in the hand, software easy to use, superzoom is fantastic and still really clear even at full zoom. there are lots of fully automatic functions ans special effects but there are manual options too which is why i particularly went for this camera. the video on this camera is second to none no blurring at all even when moving around and zooming in and out. All in all i would say to anyone to buy this camera its fantastic and well worth the extra money!!
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on 31 July 2012
I bought this as a second camera and have only had it for a couple of weeks. Already, it taken its place as my favourite although unfortunately, I can't see clients believing its better than my Nikon DSLR kit!

There is still one slight cloud on the horizon. Oh, that screen in bright sunlight! all I can see in it is myself. I've tried two items so far to overcome this but without success. I've now found a screen protector that has a matt non reflective finish and I'm hoping that will solve the problem.

I'm surprised it comes complete with a flash. Its hardly necessary. It takes the most amazing pictures in low light I've ever seen.

I like the special features like face recognition etc., but with tracking focus and the camera on 'P' its probably all I'm ever going to use!

Brilliant.

John
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