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.