Monday, 26 May 2014

The camera you take when not taking a camera - Review of the Sony DSC-HX50V

There are many times that I have been strolling/bush walking or out for a short drive when I have wanted to take a photo and all I have is my camera phone which basically sucks in most situations. Maybe you want to go on holiday and travel very light.

I have had simple point and shoot cameras in the past and thought it may be time to re-visit one as a pocket camera for times like above. My partner, Chris isn't one to twiddle with settings to get the best photo and we are often out where she wants to take a snap. While Chris tends to spend large sums of the latest mobile phone, some of which have half-decent cameras, they often come up wanting in anything remotely challenging.

I bit the bullet and was about to buy a Samsung WB350. Not the greatest of cameras but just right for Chris and acceptable photo quality for sharing. The WiFi functionality was a big drawing point for Chris. The price was great as there was a sale on but now living outside a large metropolis, by the time Chris got to the store, the sale was over and the camera had gone up in price from around $249 to $299 (everything is more expensive in Australia). For just a couple of dollars more, it was possible to do much better. I had seen the Sony DSC-HX50V for sale for $349. While it had been superseded, the reviews were good and it seemed like much better value. According to Internet, my local electronics store had the newer version for sale at $449 but that was getting a bit much (and quite often they need to order in stuff). What a surprise when I popped in and saw the Sony DSC-HX50V for $349. A little bit of haggling and it was mine for $329 or just $30 more than the Samsung.

The camera is small, amazingly small for a camera with a 30x zoom lens. Frankly, if the body was any smaller, it would be cramped. Build quality is solid and controls are well placed. It even has an external flash shoe of a Sony design for their fancy (overpriced) accessories that will take a standard ISO shoe flash. Tried it out with my Olympus FL14 flash on the "auto" setting and it works fine after a little experimentation with settings (and greatly extends the flash range).

About the only comment regarding the build quality would be the battery door which is a little too easy to open accidentally.

Taking pictures - I trialled the camera on the "Superior Auto" mode as this is what Chris would most likely be using and the results are impressive. Best to look at the results. All shots are hand-held, the camera has chosen all settings and none have been overridden, some night shots have ISO boosted to 12800 and have come out surprisingly well. Maybe not for printing wall sized posters but ideal for social media, general viewing online and printing small prints. Images shot in better light where ISO is kept to ISO 800 are excellent. A big improvement over a mobile phone and certainly better than any of the compact cameras I have had in the past.

Credit - the last 3 photos were taken by Chris.

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