Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HX9V: The Survivor

Next month will mark the one year anniversary of my owning the Sony HX9V. I can't recall another camera in the last three years that I've owned for that long of a stretch which is kind of sad, but also says a lot about this compact marvel.

The key features that have kept it around are:

16x zoom - That's 24mm to 384mm which is an incredibly useful range in such a small camera.

Image quality - It's just average, but certainly gets the job done.

1080p 60p movies with Active Steady Shot - This is the key features for me. The 1080p 60p movies look AMAZING and the steady shot is the best there is giving you a near steady cam like smoothness. Racked out to 384mm, it's not quite as smooth, but still impressive. Watching these movies back from the PlayStation 3 or Vimeo is a real treat. This has replaced any notion of ever needing a dedicated camcorder.

Low light - For photos, the Auto+, Twilight, and Anti-Blur modes are are wonderful for getting good shots without flash in dark conditions. For movies, I've yet to find another camera that can shoot better low light footage outside of camcorder above $1000.

There was this falcon sitting outside the ledge of my office building. Everyone had their phones trying to get a good shot, but he was fairly far out. This shot was taken at the full 384mm focal length and in Auto+ mode and it came out killer. Because the HX9V is a compact cam, it is always in my work bag just for times like this.

Of course the camera is far from perfect. Like I mentioned, the image quality is not the best in its class and it's operational speed is a touch slow (turning on the cam, switching modes).

That brings us to the HX20V/HX30V which arrive in stores this May. The updated versions give us 20x zoom (25-500mm), a boost to 18 megapixels, and a new optical zoom tech that promises to deliver clear shots at 40x zoom. Those aren't really tempting features by themselves that would force my hand to upgrade so I'll have to see if it addresses my two most wanted improvement, image quality and operational speed.

If I do upgrade, the HX20V uses the same battery as the HX9V so I'm set there. If you are thinking of getting either camera, I highly recommend grabbing a spare battery or two.