Standing at the top of Sony’s H-series (H for High-powered zoom) the Sony HX200V features a 30X optical zoom that captures an image from an 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor. It can also use a digital zoom (Sony’s Clear Image Zoom) to capture the equivalent of a 60X zoom image. Sony says that its Clear Image Zoom is much fancier than the plain magnification often used in consumer cameras. When it was presented to us, the demo was pretty convincing, but we did not have time to do a side by side comparison.

Just like other cameras in the H-series, the Sony HX200V has multiple image stabilization techniques and can record 1080p videos (at 60FPS!) and capture 3D images. Sony has worked to improve the low-light capabilities of the sensor (a Sony Exmor- R) along with the high-speed auto-focus (AF) of 0.13 to 0.21 seconds, which is a critical element to make photography spontaneous. Slow-AF is one of the most criticized aspects of consumer cameras. Finally, the Sony HX200 features a GPS (like almost all the H-Series cameras), which can be really handy to organize your photos down the road.

In terms of industrial design, the HX200V is not a compact camera. Instead, it is a medium sized camera that definitely won’t fit in your pocket. That said, it is still smaller than most DSLRs on the market. Micro 4/3 and compact interchangeable-lens cameras are indeed smaller, but they can’t really compete in terms of zoom without adding much more bulk. Most of them don’t have the GPS or 3D function either.

In the end, the Sony HX200V is a very interesting camera to consider if you want high-powered zoom: that’s exactly what it was designed for, and I don’t know any cameras that will compete “out of the box” in that price range ($479, available in March).

  • 18.2 MP “Exmor R” CMOS sensor
  • 30x optical zoom lens (27-810mm in 35mm format) with60x digital “Clear Image Zoom” at full resolution
  • “Extra High Sensitivity” technology enhances low-light shooting capabilities
  • Lightning-fast AF speed of approximately 0.13 second in daylight, 0.24 seconds in low-light at 3 EV (speeds may vary based on shooting conditions)
  • 3.0-inch, 921k dot resolution tilting LCD screen
  • Captures 13MP equivalent still images while shooting video via “Dual-Record”
  • Full HD Movie Shooting capability (1920×1080/60p) and Optical SteadyShot Active Mode (3 way shake cancelling)
  • Embedded GPS functionality with newly added GPS Log Recording function

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