I bought this camera when it first came out about 18 months ago and it has more than met all my expectations.
•· 20x optical zoom with a single integral lens
•· up to 10 frames per second capture
•· excellent low light capture with low grain
•· takes panoramic images up to 224 deg
•· takes 1080 HD movies
•· tilting 3″ LCD screen PLUS optical viewer
•· takes sharper twilight pictures without a tripod
•· Capture clearer photos of moving subjects
The technical specs are available from Sony, so I’ll concentrate on why this is the perfect camera for me. I’d used film cameras for 30 years before trying my first digital camera in 2001. This is my 6th digital camera. My other current DSLR is the Sony Digital Rebel. After carrying both cameras for the last 18 months, I find I rarely shoot with the DSLR anymore; almost always I use the DSLR when I have the time to also use a tripod.
THe HX1 has 2 very useful features that alone are worth it. The Anti Motion Blur Mode takes 6 fast images using a high shutter speed. The camera’s software uses the data from all six images to create a single photo of “extraordinary detail with minimal blur”.
Similarly, the Hand-held Twilight Mode takes sharper night and other low light shots without a tripod. Again it captures six images in a fraction then produces a “single image of extraordinary detail and low noise.”
These 2 features have changed the way I approach most of my photography. I have slight hand tremors and weak grip in my right hand fingers, putting my photographic aspirations at a disadvantage from the start. With the HX1’s Motion Blur mode I get sharp pictures every time – often sharper than I can take with a tripod. It takes a bit longer to wait for the images to be processed, but this has been an advantage too. Digital cameras encourage mass quantities of images, so many that editing becomes a nightmare, trying to choose among many technically correct, similar images. Now I use more time to compose. It’s easy to switch back to regular programmed modes if I need to take pictures faster, or to capture up to 10 images a second.
The 20x optical zoom is amazing – this corresponds to a 28mm – 560 mm lens in 35mm world, something just not possible with a single lens. Since the camera is so light it’s easier to handhold even at the higher zooms.
A Camera You’ll Carry While Skiing
When involved in sports or other active adventures, the biggest problems with large DSLRs are protecting the camera, yet still having it easily accessible. ( The smaller P&S style, eg, Panasonic Lumix easily fit in a coat pocket and I do occasionally use that camera when weight is really a problem. But it doesn’t have the optical zoom of the HX1 and has smaller sensors and images.)
The official measurements of the HX1 are 4 5/8” x 3 3/8” x 3 5/8” . It weighs just over a pound with battery and Memory Stick DuoPro Media. I carry it in a leather unisex shoulder purse that’s about 8 x 9″. I stuff the bag with bubble wrap, so the camera is protected by 1-2″ on all sides, but easy to pull out. When skiing, I can just push it behind me on a shoulder strap, but it’s quickly accessible to stop and take pictures. Especially handy on very cold powder days with companions who don ‘t take pictures. I’ve taken some impressive tumbles carrying it this way, and the camera is unharmed. The bag is small enough that it’s easy to swing to the front when using a chair lift.
For me this was an intriguing extra. It takes video up to 1440×1080 or at 30fps. Its MP4 HD compressed file format is perfect for uploading to computers and Web sharing sites like YouTube™. It’s also easy to convert to other formats using free or low cost video editors
I didn’t expect much from this small camera, but the videos are high quality. A tripod is almost always useful here. Here are some sample videos
All in all I’m quite pleased with the HX1. Even if you don’t have shaky hands, it will improve your photography. My only quibble is with the panorama mode – it only shoots at wide angle and only produces panoramas that are 1000 pixels high. I like to make much larger images by taking multiple vertical shots, then stitching them together automatically in Photoshop CS or Photoshop Essentials.
I’m shooting to submit to microstock photo agencies which require 4-6MP images, so panoramas 5000 x 2000 are more my goal. My rejection rate for unsharp images at the 6 agencies I submit to has fallen to near 0, so that alone has justified the purchase of the camera.