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on March 21, 2013
Over the years as a serious amateur photographer I have owned and used extensively Nikon and Hasselblad film cameras and lenses and when digital cameras arrived I began with the Nikon Coolpix 900 and 950, then DSLR's including the Canon EOS 10D, and today I am using a Canon 5D Mark II equipped with L lenses (Canon's premium glass). The Sony HX300 is my first super zoom camera, and as such I spent several hours after receiving the camera from Amazon on March 14 thoroughly reading and studying both the Sony pdf manual and the Sony User's Guide in html format. This was time well spent as there are many useful features on the HX300 that are not found even on my much more expensive Canon 5D Mark II. During this study with both manuals, I tried each feature in the quiet of my living room making sure I understood exactly how the feature worked and what it did. Only then did I set out to explore the performance of the Sony HX300 under "real world" conditions and to compare it to the Canon 5D Mark II under controlled conditions.

The two most import things about any camera are its image quality and its performance in actual shooting sessions. Image quality is, of course, a combination of many things including the camera's ability to resolve detail, to properly expose scenes shot under a variety of lighting conditions, color quality, absence of both chroma and luminance noise, etc. Performance is how responsive the camera is and includes such items as how quickly the camera is ready to take a picture after being turned on, the time delay between shots in single shot mode, the ability of the camera's autofocus to work quickly and accurately without "searching", and certainly in the case of a super zoom camera its ability to smoothly and rapidly zoom through its entire set of focal lengths. For a camera of its price and likely use, the Sony HX300 does a remarkably good job of providing high quality images and a very responsive camera.

My first test of image quality was to simply walk around my yard and the neighborhood taking images of a variety of flowers that were in early bloom as well as taking pictures of birds coming to the bird feeder in our backyard from about 75 feet away using the Sony HX300 at full zoom. In virtually every single situation the HX300's autofocus was very quick and very accurate, and the powered zoom using the lever on the shutter release was highly responsive and quite fast. The images produced had exquisite detail with good highlight detail retention, perfect color rendition, very good exposures in auto modes, and under these cloudy but bright daylight circumstances with the camera working at low ISO's very low noise. These images straight out of the camera with no post-processing looked very good to excellent. Using very small amounts of post processing mainly to slightly sharpen the images, I was able to obtain excellent large prints (13 X 19 in.) using my Epson 3800 Pro large format printer. The shots of birds on the feeder at the maximum optical zoom (1200 mm) of the HX300 were all hand held, in focus, and showed good detail, albeit not equal to the ISO 80 shots previously described. With one exception (vide infra), I had absolutely no problem hand-holding and autofocusing these 1200 mm maximum zoom shots. The one exception is when I happen to line up a tree in the shot that was about 50 feet behind the bird feeder. In that case, the HX300 always wanted to focus on the texture of the tree trunk behind the feeder. The feeder is plastic without high contrast. I was able to solve the problem completely by switching the focus mode from multi-autofocus to center auto-focus and placing the center focus frame in the EVF on the edge of the bird feeder where there was sufficient contrast for the focusing system to work properly. This initial collection of maximum zoom shots brought home an important lesson about super zoom lenses including the Carl Zeiss lens on the HX300. Remember that the HX300's lens has a maximum aperture of 6.3 at 1200 mm and therefore the ISO will be set at higher values (400-800) to provide a sufficiently fast shutter speed to allow the camera to be hand-held at such a zoom setting. Of course, the higher the ISO, the higher the visible chroma and luma noise in the captured image. I found that these outdoor shots at 1200 mm zoom on a cloudy but not overcast day came in at ISO 800 and a shutter speed of 1/160 - 1/250 sec. The maximum zoom shots were reasonably sharp, but benefitted from noise removal in post-processing which, of course, is always a compromise between detail and noise reduction. Nonetheless, these images gave quite good prints and beautiful images up to 11 X 14 in. I believe with experience I can hand-hold maximum zoom shots at shutter speeds even below 1/160 second and manually set ISO to 200 and achieve even better maximum zoom shots. I think it will be difficult and perhaps impossible to get good maximum zoom images with excellent detail on very cloudy and overcast days or in other low light level situations. The HX300 in such conditions will require ISO's higher than 800 in such situations for maximum zoom images and the result will be more image noise than I would find acceptable.

My next photo expedition with the Sony HX300 had the objective of comparing image quality under controlled conditions (tripod mounted camera with timed release of the shutter to avoid vibrations that would lower image detail) of the HX300 with my Canon 5D Mark II and the 24-70 Canon L zoom lens as well as with the Canon 100-400 L lens. I went to a nearby park which has a lake that affords a 1.5 mile unobstructed view to a wooden bridge and homes across the lake. Lots of trees surrounding the lake provided added detail. It was a sunny bright day with no clouds in the sky. I shot a series of shots with the Sony HX300 in IQ mode and in Scene Select Landscape Mode at focal lengths ranging from 24 mm (maximum wide angle) to 1200 mm (maximum optical zoom). I matched the shooting conditions and scene with my Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod using the two L lenses up to the maximum 400 mm of the Canon L zoom lens. Upon arriving home and comparing the images, I was truly amazed at how well the Sony HX300 had performed. In fact, until I got to 100% image size (pixel peeping!), I was very hard pressed to see any difference in the detail or overall quality of these two cameras. I found this to be very surprising since the Sony system is $500 and the Canon 5D Mark II with its L lenses is in the $3500-$4500 range! At 100% image size I was definitely able to see a difference in the quality of the images and it always favored the Canon 5D Mark II which, not surprisingly, showed greater detail and less image noise than the HX300 especially when comparing the 400mm shots made by the two cameras. With that said, the difference is best described as noticeable but not overwhelming as I might have expected. I have shown these comparison images to several photographic friends and all have expressed amazement at how well the Sony HX300 image quality holds up in comparison to the much more expensive Canon equipment.

While at the lake I also had the opportunity to try out the Sony on some real "action" situations. A blue heron flew past and landed about 150 yards from me. I was able to get some terrific shots at full 1200 mm optical zoom (ISO 125) that I have printed at 16X20 size. I had the opportunity to try the burst mode of 10 images on a group of ducks in flight. I found that it was going to take some additional practice to master the art of zooming, tracking, and setting off the shutter for pictures of this type, but the camera did track and focus fairly well on this difficult scene. In another instance, a bird was circling high over the water and I was able to zoom to 1200 mm and get a nice detailed shot.

While at the lake, I had the opportunity to try out the movie mode of the HX300. I found that it tracked focus on my subjects beautifully, allowed me to smoothly zoom during movie making, recorded the sound nicely, and performed in every way in movie mode as well as I could have desired to produce excellent 1080i AVCHD movies.

Just a few final comments. Build quality on the Sony HX300 is quite good. Yes, it is made of composite (plastic), but it feels solid, has a nice textured grip that makes the camera easy to hand hold, and is so wonderfully light compared to my Canon 5D Mark II. I was using a 32 GB ultra high speed San Disk SDHC card, and I had no problem taking single images rapidly in virtually any mode, and even the burst of 10 shots previously described were recorded to the card in about 5-7 seconds which seems quite acceptable to me.

The HX300 is not a perfect camera (nor have I yet found one that is!), and here are some things that I would like to see changed. A button press is required to switch between the EVF and the LCD. On the older HX200 there was a sensor which automatically went to the EVF upon sensing the eye. I wish Sony had not removed this feature. The button turning on the EVF is flush with the camera body and quite small making it difficult to find by touch. The same is true for the Focus button, although the latter is only required when changing focus modes. Of course I would like to see a larger aperture than 6.3 when at full optical zoom, but this would likely require a much much larger lens with all the weight and expense that would entail.

My bottom line is that if you are in the market for a super zoom camera and you understand that under low light situations you may not find the 1200 mm zoomed images to be acceptable in their level of detail and sharpness, then I would highly recommend the Sony HX300. If you are printing huge images (larger than 16X20), this is probably not the camera for you. If you want a camera that will be great for vacation pictures, pictures of the family, bird photography, wildlife photography, etc. and you are willing to invest some time to learn to properly utilize the camera, then the HX300 may well be the perfect camera for you.


Note Added: I I have now posted the images referred to in the above review of the Sony HX300 including the comparison images with the Canon 5D Mark II on the Sony Cybershot Forum. The images, as per Forum requirements were posted at 1/2 the original image size. You can view the post at [...].
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on March 24, 2013
A couple of things about me, and what I needed in a camera. First of all, while I have some basic understandings of how these kinds of cameras work, I am not a professional techie guy, and I usually have to look up every spec I read and usually end up not getting it entirely. I did do a lot of research, but the Camera Spec Snobs in some of the review sites just go to an extreme that will never, ever matter to me. Second, this camera was a replacement for my old bridge camera, a Sony DSC H-5 (12X optical, 7.2 megapixel). That camera served me well over the past 6 years, after thousands upon thousands of images. I bring this up because there have been a mountain of improvements on all technological fronts since then, which has resulted in an entirely and spectacularly different photographic experience I am having with this new camera after only a few days, and may explain my giddy five star love-fest I am having with this thing! I use my camera for everything from artistic photos to nature photography to family events, so I want a camera that shoots great, better than average pictures in a variety of circumstances over a specialized camera that takes outstanding pictures in limited circumstances.

Unlike many other reviewers (but most probably like the majority of shoppers), I do not own several high end cameras and am therefore not going to be comparing this one to my other high end camera that I bought last year. So, in my comparison, all I can say is if you have an older bridge camera that seems to be losing a bit of steam and you are looking to replace it, look no further. You don't have to spend hours fretting over this spec and that, when you get this camera and take a few pictures you will feel like you did as a kid when you replaced that brownie camera with your first 35mm! The improvements made over that past half decade make the experience like night and day!

Every problem that I had with my old one is gone (or at least vastly improved) with this new one. That purply fringe line you sometimes got on the edges of your subject, or that white glare that seemed almost neon in brightness on a sunny day? Gone. That problem with focusing on a fast moving object? Gone. The blurry images from moving objects in anything but bright sunlight? Vastly improved. The issue of losing all definition of dark areas if anything was remotely back-lit? There is a setting called HDR on this camera that makes it possible to take those pictures you just didn't even bother trying before. That problem with taking indoor shots without flash where the quality was so low you never shared the pictures with anyone? Oh my God, what a difference.

Like my old camera, this one has a fully automatic setting, settings that allow you to over-ride some of the auto settings and others to completely over-ride the auto settings. It also has a large variety of other specialized settings, like "pet" or "portrait" that adjusts things for certain scenarios. In the cases of "landscape", "hdr", and "background de-focus", the camera's auto setting seems to do this for you. The macro setting is also automatic, coming on when your lens gets close enough. Over time, I will learn all these new settings, because I know that sometimes, the auto setting will misread the situation and I will want to be able to adjust. However, I am really impressed with this cameras ability to auto adjust well.

The quality of my pictures are stunning. If I crop in to a ridiculous, unreal point and compare it to a picture taken by a $2000.00 DSLR, would I notice a difference in crispness? Probably, but I will leave that debate to the spec snobs. While they are busy fretting over such things, I will be in the mountains taking awesome pictures of my grandkids in the snow, and enjoying my camera. Color, composition, saturation, detail, contrast, etc. are all outstanding with this camera. Details that my older camera could not pick up just stand out like crazy with this one. The camera is not magic, my black lab running in the white snow on a back-lit landscape still comes out as just a pure black shadow, but in less extreme situations, this camera is doing an awesome job.

And that crazy, insane 50X lens! First off, on the wide end, 24mm is much wider than my old 36mm and the difference is phenomenal. But when you go off the other end, I just cannot describe what happens. I have pictures of a building on a hill where you can see people on a deck, then you zoom out and that building is just the tiniest spec on your picture. I love birds, and am really looking forward to taking this out and getting details I never could before.

Played a bit with the video, and frankly I have a lot of homework to do on it. One thing I did notice though, is that the anti-shake technology on this camera made some of my video shots look like a pro took them with a tripod.

Bottom line, this camera is awesome. I have three situations where I took a picture and was stunned by the results. 1. A pigeon flew quickly over my head in a blue sky. The camera was on auto. I whipped around, got the bird in the frame, zoomed in a bit, and held the button half-way down to focus. The auto focus caught the bird quickly, and then the bird was instantly tracked by the auto focus. I took the picture, and the bird had no movement or blur in the photo. This was all done in under a couple seconds. 2. At around 5 pm, with the sun setting behind it, I took a picture of a mountain during a trip in the Cascades. The mountain had some snow, and some dark patches where there were trees and/or rocks. This photo would have been impossible in the past. Camera was on auto, and it immediately went into the "HDR" setting. (Read about this if you do not know what it is, I recommend making it a "need" spec to shop for.) The photo showed all the detail of the mountain instead of my usual too dark mountain that I would have got in the past. 3. I tested the camera in low light indoor settings, against my old camera. WOW! Where my old camera could only take an almost black dark shadow picture, this one picked everything up. I am talking at a light level far below what you would see in a family gathering, and I can hardly WAIT for the next time our family gets together!

Did I mention that awesome, sick, crazy zoom?

I love this camera!
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Despite being a professional photographer I have a variety of point-and-shoot pocket cameras for family events, vacations and just having fun and I will let you know right now nothing included in my review will be techie, just real-life things that can help you decide if this is the camera for you.

Recently, adding to my collection of little pocket cameras, I acquired an Olympus XZ-1 in an attempt to get better results than I've previously experienced with low-end pocket cameras and it does an admirable job while still remaining portable. The DSC-HX300 is not pocketable, it is what is known as a "bridge" camera. I've generally thought of bridge cameras (SLR-like with non-detachable zoom lenses) as a compromise ... almost as large and heavy as a real DSLR, lacking the versatility of swappable lenses, tiny sensor, mediocre lens and much too automated. But I do realize that all consumer-grade cameras just keep getting better and better and if you read on you will hopefully get some insight about the capabilities of the Sony HX300 and how it compares to state-of-the-art.

This is the first Sony-brand camera that I've owned, although I did early development work with them regarding the original Mavica digital cameras. I respect their ability to design and manufacturer most of their components in-house, especially after they acquired the photographic experience of Konica/Minolta. The DSC HX300 can safely be called a "premium" bridge camera as it reigns with only a couple of other similar cameras in worthwhile features.

As I said, I'll avoid getting techie in this review; there are well-established resources for that. Nor will I republish the specs which can be found at the Sony website or compare a consumer-grade camera with a $5000 professional DSLR. Just a real-life user report that I hope will help you decide if this model is what you're looking for.


Likely the #1 reason someone might choose the DSC HX300 is the astonishing zoom range of 24mm - 1200mm (35mm equivalent). Even with a pro DSLR a zoom of that magnitude would not be something you would use handheld and you certainly wouldn't want to take a DSLR fitted with a 1000mm lens on a family outing to Disneyland. For all of its extreme zoom power, the overall camera weighs lighter than an entry-level Canon or Nikon DSLR with a stock 18mm - 55mm lens attached. Because the camera is much larger and heavier than a compact pocket camera and less enabled than a DSLR this is probably not going to be your one and only camera, however the HX300 defines why bridge cameras exist and for most people would certainly be well suited as an all-in-one still/video camera for that Disneyland trip. At its price and relative sophistication of controls the average user will probably use it to take to sporting events and other such applications where an extreme zoom lens is important. That describes how I will use it, I doubt it will ever be a "take everywhere" camera to me.

A very likely target audience for a camera with a zoom of such range would be those with a love of birding, and well they should, the zoom range is quite mindboggling. The best analogy would be to compare the results to using a fine pair of Monarch model binoculars for birding compared with a decent low price pair. With the lower-priced scope you will certainly see the bird and be able to recognize it but the image will lack crispness and richness of color. The HX300 isn't a bad choice for birding, one should simply be aware that the image may fall short of the glory of detail a quality pair of binoculars can deliver.


The camera makes good use of the plastic construction, feeling solid in the hand but not fragile. The second best feature, in my opinion, is the large ring around the lens which is the perfect place to place your hand to steady shots being taken at long zoom ranges. That ring can be used to manually zoom the lens (much better than using a tiny rocker switch on the camera body, although the DSC HX300 has one of those too if you prefer). By flicking a large switch, which is placed in exactly the right location for your left thumb, the ring can be turned into a manual focus ring. That combo on a camera of this type is absolutely brilliant. Well done, Sony! But DON'T expect that ring to have the exact feel to it that any DSLR has ... it is a "fly by wire" type, which means turning the ring simply activates a motor that controls the zoom or focus function. There is significant lag before the command is received and executed and not a lot of precision. Once you get used to it, the benefit of having the zoom/focus ring on the lens makes you promise you would never want to give it up.

The camera has both a large 3" high-resolution articulated (up/down)LCD on the back and a decent electronic viewfinder (EVF) that is bright and sharp. I suspect when zooming in tightly on something most users would prefer to use the EVF so they can brace the camera against their face. The EFV also makes it quite a bit easier to follow action sports. I have seen a few comments bemoaning the fact that Sony dropped the eye-sensor switch that the predecessor model had in favor of a manual button to switch between the two viewfinders. Personally I prefer to make that choice manually ... there are circumstances when I like to be a bit discreet and not make people nervous when I photograph them, and the eye-sensor switch turns on the huge 3" screen every time I move the camera slightly from my eye, which is hardly discreet. Note also that the EVF offers something few compact point & shoot cameras have anymore, the ability to shoot in very bright sunlight. As good as rear LCD's have gotten, even the best have trouble in bright direct sunlight. The HX300 doesn't leave any option lacking ... you can hold it to your eye in difficult lighting conditions, you can use the 3" LCD for more casual shooting and you can tilt that screen both up and down, which offers great versatility. As someone who has tried several cameras with auto eye sensors, I conclude that it can be VERY frustrating if you move your eye away for a split second just before a critical shot and the EVF goes dark. I would much rather know EXACTLY which viewfinder that I have chosen to use and that it will remain that viewfinder until I choose a different option.

Although much of the hype concerns the 1200mm tele range of the lens the wide end goes to 24mm which is almost as miraculous AND it opens to f:2.8, unbelievable for such a lens. The camera sets high expectations for itself and bottom line does the lens deliver?


Here's the part that most readers are looking for ... how well does it perform? Quite well, despite self-imposed limitations. Sony may be trying to do too much with its tiny P&S sensor, at even low ISO it unfortunately has some processing artifacts that make photos look acceptable to the average eye, but will fall to pieces if enlarged too much. To their credit, Sony tries really hard to keep that ISO on fully automatic modes down near that 80 ISO level. There is no raw capture, and there should be at a $500 price point. Overexposure can be an issue (although there is a pretty cool and simplistic way of "choosing" what exposure looks good to you and some modes allow +/- exposure bracketing. And the camera won't always choose to use acceptable shutter speeds with auto ISO as your setting. While I still can't imagine why I would want to shoot handheld at 1200mm and expect a decent photograph, I no longer have to imagine it ... it's just too good to be true. You get what you should expect ... a bit marginal at best at 1200mm that can suffice in a pinch, sometimes actually quite good. The lens is probably capable of topping out at about 250mm at the most to deliver what most people would agree could be called an excellent "sharp" picture. 50x sounds great on paper, but take that paper and write down how many times you think you will actually need it and you may be surprised how unrealistic that spec is.

And now we reach the vital question, how good are the pictures? Well, we have come to expect the best possible performance of digital cameras, no matter the brand or design, as being their best at below 100 ISO, acceptable up to 800 ISO and marginal beyond that. Unfortunately, the HX-300 at 80 ISO the JPEG images do have some processing artifacts in the form of grainy structures, while edges are somewhat smeared rather than tack crisp under less-than-ideal conditions. What does this mean to anyone shooting pics of the family on a fun weekend? What I said isn't as bad as it sounds, only that the overall image lacks the clean and clear quality one expects from a camera in its price range, BUT I have to quickly add that when you consider all of the compromises Sony had to made to stuff all of the features they did into the HX300, if you're disappointed in the limitations then this may be the time you migrate to a basic DSLR instead. If your conditions are good and you take a little care, all hope is not lost, this camera can produce some stunning results. I posted a "snapshot" of an egret I took in which I had a little time to assure the camera settings were what I wanted and I am very satisfied with it. It is posted under User Photos.


Modern cameras are required to do so much, especially to power huge LCD screens, motorized zooms and sometimes WiFi and/or GPS that sometimes it's hard to get through a full day on a battery charge. To compound the issue, batteries are getting tinier and tinier. After receiving the camera and giving it an initial charge, at the time of writing this over a week has passed with me taking at least 10 - 15 shots a day and some random movie clips (plus I've spent a lot of time navigating through the menus just to learn what's there). After all that, the battery meter shows over 50% life left. I'll update after an extended period of use but the initial results are very impressive.


There are not many things in the minus column that should discourage someone from choosing this camera if the specs and features fit their needs, however there are a couple of quirks that, once you use the camera, will seem odd. Sony does a great job for a point & shoot of not forcing you to dig deep into menus to change important shooting functions, the mode dial can handle most of them without even taking your eye from the viewfinder. However, this is a camera that begs to be used at sporting events, considering its zoom range and ease of shooting fast action. So one would expect the Sports mode to be one of the mode dial functions, right? No, instead to reach it you must choose the Scene mode, then use the rear jog dial to select it. Where you would expect to find the Sports mode you will find instead a 3D Still Mode, something that may be nice to have but certainly not something the typical person would use often, if at all since it only works effectively on certain Sony TV models. By the way, that rear jog dial is a gem. It is context sensitive and depending on your shooting mode, controls all of the most important secondary functions like ISO, shutter speed, F value and EV and select them by pressing in on the dial. Another "tiny" negative might be that at the default setting the viewfinder/rear screen is jam-packed with useful but ever-changing data. There are 4 user choices how you want the information displayed but none of them are what I would consider perfect. For example, why Sony, would you not let the user keep the horizon level on no matter what other mode is chosen? One relatively minor fault is the position of the on/off switch. It is located at the right base of the viewfinder hump and is flush with the camera body. To activate it the index finger must reach over the function dial which can easily turn the dial. The button is difficult to press and there is no tactile click. My preference would have been either a button or a slide switch (common on many cameras) in the space on the left between the viewfinder and the body.


Okay, let's say you want to use this camera as your everyday point & shoot, how does it stack up to a moderately prices DSLR (I know, there isn't a real comparison between it and any DSLR, but let's assume you're comparing value for the price) and a moderately priced compact camera (not a cheapie, but one that is currently selling for under $300 - $500 at the time of this review). Bottom line: As is clear from the note above my review, this camera was provided to me for evaluation, which is true with many camera review sites. My reviews are always based on personal knowledge and experience and I feel I have reviewed it fairly. I have no relationship nor interest in Sony and as stated earlier, this is the first Sony camera I have owned. I am not married to any brand, having used virtually every professional brand, and most consumer brands. Remember, a camera is only a tool. It is not capable of making you a great photographer. Specs don't make photographs, creativity does. Use what you research as a guideline, and then choose the camera that best suits what you want to do.

That being said, is this the best camera ever? Should it be your only camera? Probably no on both counts, I classify it as a specialty camera and once you learn its capabilities and also its limitations, you will find it is truly a bridge camera that is worth owning.


So in summary, the zoom range is what makes this camera special. Putting aside pretensions that most people will actually use the more advanced modes (I think not) the automatic Point & Shoot modes define some of the most advanced camera technology currently available. If you only owned one camera and only used it in one of the Scene or Auto modes you would have to work hard to produce a bad photo. If you venture into the more advanced modes and aren't what they call a pixel peeper, you could declare this your "do everything" camera. And if you have the means to afford a $5000 DSLR and also a pocketable camera you may still do well considering the HX300 because, quite frankly, it's really kinda fun to shoot with.

[UPDATE 1] I accidentally bumped the lens against the edge of a piece of plastic sporting equipment yesterday, fortunately no damage only a smudge that could be removed with a lens cloth. Five minutes later I ordered a Hoya 55mm HMC UV Digital Slim Frame Multi-Coated Glass Filter from Amazon which was delivered next day, it was on sale for under 9 bucks. It fits perfectly (and the lens cap also fits perfectly on it). Follow the link to my review. It is dirt cheap insurance to protect that large exposed Zeiss lens.

[UPDATE 2] When I travel I prefer a small snug case to protect the camera from accidental bumps, although after I arrive I leave the case behind and carry just the camera. I tried the Case Logic DCB-304 for this camera and found it to be just a little snug. After a long search I found the EveCase Black Pouch Case was a perfect fit, almost like it was made specifically for the camera. I have reviewed it separately. It is reasonably well made (not quite Case Logic quality) but just perfect for this camera.
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VINE VOICEon June 18, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Let me say this first: I'm an amateur photographer, and an average one at that (my wife is the skilled one in this department - I'm an audio guy). However, I'd expect that I'm who this is aimed at: someone who likes taking photos, enjoys good technology, understands what makes a good photo, and wants to go beyond what a point-and-shoot does without lugging around a dSLR with multiple lenses. So that's the perspective from which this is written.

First of all, this is a bridge camera - looks like an dSLR but isn't (nor does it have interchangeable lenses), acts kinda like a point-and-shoot but delivers more. So to compare it to one my wife's Canon dSLR with a $600 macro lens on it is an exercise in futility. But even then... it almost holds its own, and in some ways I MUCH prefer it. I'll get to that in a minute.

Sizewise, it's between the two types: it's not pocketable, but more compact and easy to carry than a dSLR. Its comfortable to hold, with the plastic construction striking a nice balance: it's light but doesn't feel cheap. Controls fall easily to hand, and it handles quite well in my hands as well as my 12-year-old's; anyone can pick it up and shoot easily. It's the perfect thing to take on a family outing, frankly.

When you shoot, you can simply leave it in auto mode (Sony's calling the full auto Enhanced Superior Auto, which is actually aptly named) and let it do its thing, and even in this mode I find photo quality to be excellent. When you start opening up the toolbox of shooting modes though (and start using that amazing zoom), things get even better.

It has a ton of feature, from those you'd expect to those you wouldn't: exposure and aperture priority; tons of preset programs like portrait, landscape, sport, night, etc; exposure bracketing; color saturation selection; optical image stabilization; selectable focus areas; a great panorama mode; very cool picture effects like miniaturize, partial color, and watercolor; 10 frame-per-second shooting at full 20 MP resolution. There are many more as well, so hit Sony's site if you want the full list.

But the real star of the show is that lens. With 50x optical zoom you've got a camera with the equivalent of a 24mm to 1200mm zoom, which is ridiculous. At the wide end it jams way more into the photo than any of my other cameras, and at the long end, well, just wow. And that "wow" isn't even even considering the digital zoom portion which is WAY better than any I've used before. It's so good, in fact, that I don't disable it right off the bat, the way I always have in the past.

For an example of the extreme difference in wide to zoom, take a look at the photos of the kiteboarder I put in the customer photo gallery. It's really staggering. That day I also shot some people standing down the beach - at wide, I could barely see them, at full zoom I could read the logo on the woman's sunglasses. Just so much fun.

How's the quality? Unlike some of what I've read, I find the image quality to be wonderful. I keep hearing about artifacts, but honestly they just aren't an issue in most situations; if they are, you probably ought to be shooting with a dSLR instead. I've enlarged and printed quite a few photos with fantastic results and have no complaints there.

Video mode is excellent as well, and I've had no issues. That amazing zoom comes into play again, getting closer and closer well past when you expect it to stop. Just wonderful, and loads of fun.

Other neat things: macro mode is automatic; the LCD display slides and tilts, allowing shooting from well above or well below the camera (like over a crowd, etc); the flash is manually popped up, which I like (I'm aware this could be debatable, but I don't like it popping up unexpectedly); and there's a focus/zoom ring at the end of the lens (switchable between those modes) for those that grew up twisting the lens rather than pushing switches. I LOVE that.

The only negatives I can think of: no RAW mode, which really is a bit of a drag at this price-point, but at least I don't burn up space using it; no auto-switching between monitors - you hit a button to switch between the rear LCD and viewfinder LCD and since I'm used to SLRs I keep putting it up to my eye and am surprised when there's no image; it uses a battery pack that won't allow AA batteries to be used in a pinch. That's IT.

Overall, I love this thing. It's my go-to camera now (I even used the amazing zoom to figure out if a bump in the middle of the pond by my house was an alligator - it was) in almost any situation (if I don't want to lug something, I'll just use my phone), can be used fast and easy in standard mode, and provides tons of fun in the programmable and artistic modes.

If you want the absolute finest photos possible, I suppose you should look at a multi-thousand dollar dSLR with multiple lenses.

But if you want fantastic photos in an easy to use and carry camera that just happens to have a zoom lens that the NSA would find useful, grab the HX300.

It's just awesome.
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on April 30, 2013
Summary: Only this camera empowers me to quickly tweak focus, freeze framing a duck on the other side of a large lake, or a Robin bathing in a neighbor's birdbath -- complete with the individual water droplets falling from that duck's bill as she drinks, or flying off that robin as she shakes herself dry.
- - - -

Concurring with the positive reviews, I write to highlight essential points.

::::: (1) Image Quality (IQ) :::::
Some blame "20 megapixels" for the poor IQ of their disappointing photos. Reality check: you can *choose* 20, 15, 10 or 5mp as the default. Some just generally declare "bad IQ" at the extreme zoom end; others love the IQ. The reason you're seeing such opposing opinions likely comes down to one fact: 50x zoom is new to us all. Some learn how to tame all that power; some don't. (More on this issue at #5&6 below.) Incidentally, Noise Reduction errs on the side of details (thankfully!), rather than smearing; configure as desired, in the Settings.

::::: (2) "Superior Auto" Modes :::::
There are two, one with a "Plus" designation. Plus adds a sort of *realistic* HDR, among other features; you'll hear machine-gun shutter snaps--- Sony uniquely blends them all into one final picture. Thus, you can not burst shoot while in SAP, but it is available in SA. Great surprise: each mode is pretty darn good! (Hanging out in auto mode when testing a new camera = cheat sheet to inherent firmware flaws. I've experienced no deal-breakers here.) It's even smart enough to apply a bokeh effect re zooms! (Still learning EXACTLY when I can expect that to kick in.) Scene modes are also quite helpful, and exploitable for more than the described purpose.

::::: (3) Lens, Zoom :::::
The lens is threaded for 55mm filters. (See #10) . . . . The headliner 50x optical zoom is complimented by at least 100x "ClearZoom." The latter delights *much* more frequently than disappoints. Toggle it on/off in the settings. There's a separate toggle for straight "digital zoom," which I keep off.

::::: (4) NeatOh! :::::
There's a customizable (limited) button on the top of the camera (oddly placed), & a *convenient* rotating push-in ribbed wheel that keeps, e.g. exposure compensation immediately accessible -- right hand for both. Optional always-present histogram & grid on screen; one tap to change/remove it on the fly (right hand, thumb).

::::: (5) Mechanics :::::
Zooming is reliably fast, as is auto tracking focus. Even at max zoom (50x & 100-140x), IF you adequately brace yourself. Think: you know 20x magnifies your slightest shake; whaddaya think 50x will do? Failing to respect that reality, and prepping yourself accordingly, results in eye-assaulting photos. Likewise, the complex nature of some scenes induces auto focus woes. Quickly curable, thanks to Sony's smart Plan B-- the zoom/focus ring, with a no-eyes-required ridiculously-easy-to-manipulate flip switch (auto/manual focus, left side). . . On the other hand, while snapping itself is fast, an irritating but tolerable wait-state materializes in burst mode's aftermath, per writing the shots to a Class 10 card.

::::: (6) Image Stabilization :::::
The system is golden. But expect no miracles when mimicking a modified version of a rapper within a mile of a microphone. Extreme zoom (50x/optical; 100--140x/ClearZoom) power is new to us all! Each additional mm of zoom necessitates additional care in bracing yourself. Approach the HX300 with related humility ("I don't know diddly 'bout handling a 50x+ camera, so I NEED to be super conscious of my body"), genuinely respect/ learn/ tame it, & you'll be a happy camper. Approach it in the same manner as a less-than-half(!!!) the zoom camera, and the predictable "ugh!" results will spark a bullet-speed return. Bottom-line: This NEW & INTENSE degree of zoom = doom, unless/until you develop bracing techniques (plural!) to harness all that power, AND study the options of *this* camera as well as *its* unique sweet spots. Don't misread me here -- experience via other cameras is helpful. But old-school kinda-braced ain't gonna cut it. Trial & error = my/your BFF. But I assure you, it IS doable! I own a tripod and monopod, which I've yet to use here. Was the learning curve frustrating? You betcha. Worth it? Oooo baby, you better believe it!

::::: (7) You Can D/L the PDF Manual, Now :::::
The full 240 page PDF user manual is linked at dpreview >> Forums >> Sony Cybershot >> search: hx300 PDF. While I rarely RTFM, the HX300's incredible reach alone inspired grabbing & studying that manual while awaiting delivery. Time well spent, as I have zero complaints about image quality, zooming or focusing. At the very least, play CliffNotes by studying the charts outlining what features are available per mode (starts around p80).

::::: (8) A Winning Review :::::
(March 30, 2013 - Amateur Photographer)
For those who depend on formal reviewers for camera purchasing, FYI: This UK zine (Zinio on iPad, Web) reviews ultrazooms from Sony, Canon, Fuji & Nikon, awarding first place to the HX300. Reasons: ease of handling, image quality, reliable zoom, speedy autoFocus, "excellent" viewfinder. Having returned Canon's sx50 and Nikon's p510 long prior to snagging this camera, suffice to say that I agree (sluggish/unreliable zoom/focus, viewfinder from Hades, etc).

::::: (9) Suggestion (Images available for your review) :::::
Search Flickr ("hx300") to view FULL resolution 10/15/20mp photos. (Forums typically slice resolution.) You'll see birds, squirrels, ducks, the moon, cars, cityscapes, landscapes, indoors & other shots -- Superior Auto/Plus modes, 50x max optical zoom, 140x (!!) ClearZoom, handheld, no crop, no edit, low light, high ISO. FYI: where mine (pgBnax) look soft or lack focus, it's my bad, NOT the camera. Exception: max ClearZoom (100x to 140x) -- sometimes a wee bit soft IQ; not exactly earth-shattering news to those familiar with the foibles of any form of digital zoom. Even there, a couple of minutes of post-processing on my iPad (PhotoGene) cures whatever initially irked these retinas. Otherwise, I repeat: "grrr!" photos flow exclusively from *my* failure to PAF (pay attention, fool!) while lining up the shot.

::::: (10) Recommended Accessories :::::
... Wasabi Power Battery (2 Pack) and Charger for Sony NP-BX1 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, DSC-RX100, HDR-AS10, HDR-AS15. Under $20. Avoids otherwise required in-camera charging. Plus, having 2 spare batteries juiced & ready lets me focus on my beloved hobby, rather than the precise number of shots left before I'm jacked.
... Maximal Power CA LENCAP55 Snap-On Cap for Lens - 55mm Black Lens cap WITH a cord to attach to camera strap. (Really, Sony, couldn't cough up that little but vital cord?!?) $3
... Maximal Power 55mm Lens Filter Kit Includes Circular Polarizer, UV and Star Lens Filter Kit for 55mm Camera Lens (Black) Under $10. Nice for getting your feet wet with filters.
... AmeriBag X-Small Microfiber Healthy Back Bag Tote Under $30. Stays flat against my back, with minimal punching, as I run multi-mile park trails. I did add a padded sleeve, pulled from one of my dSLR camera bags. Teflon coating conquers rain fears. Bonus: external water-bottle-friendly hugs-it pouch; room for phone, wallet, spare batteries in a change purse, small notebook and more. External & internal pockets are secure, some zipped, some with Velcro. Guys: Color is key re the metrosexual test.

::::: Finally, ("pure opinion" alert!) a few words about....
Pixel Peepers
Professional reviewers invariably blow up photos 100-200%, scrutinizing ad nauseum for shortcomings. Once upon a time, I suffered resulting brain-kidnap syndrome. I was so far gone, that I wouldn't even touch xyz camera until favored reviewers presented their "in depth" positive commentary. While awaiting those reviews, I'd move among assorted forums, hungry for morsels about that xyz camera. At some point (Hallelujah!), a few free brain cells sprung back to life, and it finally registered:
* I am not paid to pixel peep.
* I do not routinely print poster-size photos.
* I will not be wallpapering a room with a photo.
* I do not carry a computer monitor to share pics with buddies.
* I do not work for National Geographic.
On the other hand, I am one picky sunnuvawitch as I review the day's shots. But I now approach each look-see as a realist, not a purist. I typically share via iOS-app arranged printed postcards, standard size snapshots, my phone or iPad4, or StreamZoo or Flickr (I left InstaSpam). In other words, to me, common sense = accept/reject photos based on how they will actually/habitually be used, not on the basis of some pie in the sky version of perfection.

dSLR vs Point & Shoot (P&S)
. . . . I do not confuse a car with a truck, a bike with a Harley, nor a P&S with a dSLR. I understand: purpose dictates which is better for whom at what time. I realize: camera manufacturers are capitalists.
. . . . A dSLR-size sensor within a P&S, WITH extreme zoom, IF mechanically possible, would kill lucrative len$e$ lines, not to mention my bank account. Ain't gonna happen. Meanwhile, dSLRs and P&S both *offer* great pics, but neither *guarantees* it. No camera, nor camera genre, is perfect; each & every one involves/instigates one or more compromises. Not one functions within a vacuum; results are fully dependent upon the photographer.
. . . . I appreciate my dSLRs, but they're heavy, cumbersome & downright inconvenient. I've created (!) more photos in the past 7 weeks than I have since early November, and that includes holiday periods. NOT because this camera is new to me, but because its usually with me, unlike a dSLR. **And** because I am finally well-armed to capture scenes which, until recently, were within my line of sight, but beyond the mechanical prowess of the camera then in hand. Read: limited reach.

BottomLine, for Me
. . . . My history includes purchasing an uber-expensive 500mm telephoto lens. I returned it within 48 hours. Felt like I was carrying a football player's thigh. No thank you!
. . . . The HX300 will sing in some hands, flop in others, for reasons previously outlined. Fact: it permits capture of scenes even my dSLRs have futzed -- for years -- solely due to reach limitations. This bad boy is now with me when I step out my door, a good 90% of the time. My dSLRs are headed to eBay. I've been through many a P&S folks. This is the first time I knew, deep within, that I'm sacrificing nadda in reaching for the P&S instead. Super-sweet purchase, no question!
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on June 1, 2013
First, let me say I fully appreciate all of the comments about the camera in these posts and those in particular by Thomas Wheeler. They have been very helpful in learning how best to use the camera though I have also spent a lot of time reading the online manual and studying many of the reviews of the camera. I was attracted to its advertised specs, the favorable reviews, and the way it felt and handled. I bought the camera about 3+ weeks ago from Amazon and have since taken over 1000 pics and several videos and have come to several conclusions about how I have been able to best achieve the most satisfying pictures for me.

I very much like the camera's handling, the quick ready-to-shoot time from turn-on, the quick focus (especially, in high contrast situations), the zoom ring which is very handy for zoom and composition adjustments, the short shot-to-shot times, and the image stabilization system which works very well at long zooms. I am using a SanDisk Extreme SDHC Class 10 memory chip rated at 45 mb/sec. Camera responsiveness has been very good. I have not used a tripod with any of my pics.

I generally shoot still shots in the Program ("P") mode where I can control ISO and let the camera determine the best shutter and aperture settings, but I also have taken pics in several of the "Scene" settings and have used the "Superior Auto" setting to let the camera determine the scene and best camera settings with the highest quality.

I try to keep the shutter speed short, take pics with bright sun, and well-light settings inside and outside. I also work to keep the ISO at or below 400, around 200, if possible. I have also set the internal sharpening and contrast camera settings to "+".

Overall, I have found I get the crispest shots with bright sun, low ISO, high shutter speed, and very high contrast between the subject and its surroundings when using the "P" mode dial setting, even at high zoom. With such conditions, the pics turn out almost razor sharp, with little or no post editing needed even with very high zoom (<= 40x). I have taken some stunningly sharp shots, including macro, near zoom, and distant zoom ones under the aforementioned favorable conditions. The inherent camera focusing system seems to "love" (perform best in) the high contrast, bright light scenario because it seems to work its best then regardless of zoom setting to produce very sharply focused pics. Yes, you must hold the camera very, very steady (as noted in other posts) to allow the Image Stabilization System to do its best as well at long zooms.

The low light situation seems to be this camera's Achilles' heel because shooting under this condition is something I am still working on to get a satisfying picture. The camera tends to use high ISOs (and thus, introduces more noise) to compensate for low light, but so far, in the case, most of my pictures show that much clarity and detail are being lost probably due to the low aperture setting, and small image sensor, in particular at the high end of the zoom. Engaging a longer shutter speed (as opposed to higher ISO) in this case may be an alternative. I am also still exploring the in-door "people" picture situation, too. Though I have taken a number of such pictures, I am still working on achieving the best lighting "set-up" indoors with and without flash, but I tend to shoot outdoors in the landscape, wildlife, or macro modes mostly so I have not been very troubled by this yet. It has been suggested that the "Superior Auto" Mode on the camera is a good way to take indoor portrait shots w/o the necessary use of flash.

In most cases and situations that I have experienced so far, the camera also seems inclined to produce fairly soft, smooth "edges" around the outline of the subject and surrounding objects regardless of the mode dial/camera settings used and situation. This may be result of the built-in noise reduction system and the fact that the camera has a pretty small image sensor considering the use of its 20+ mp design. These soft edges around objects may appeal to some people because they do appear smoother and somewhat more natural to the naked eye, but I generally prefer sharper edges and have explored using the "Unsharp mask" editing feature within the camera after shooting the image. This definitely helps make the edges much, much crisper which I favor and find more satisfying, but what I don't like is that you have no control over how much the picture is sharpened when using the camera's Unsharp mask, while a photo editing program like "Picasa" or "Photoshop Elements" allows you to determine how much sharpening you want to apply. The camera's adjustment may be just right given the picture taken however as I have also experienced. In any case, as a result of these available options, I can now sharpen any of my pictures as much as I like. This has greatly improved the overall crispness of my images in spite of the aforementioned camera design limitations which is not to say you must do this for every picture you take. It's a matter of preference, picture taken, and what your eye likes.

HD Videos have come out quite good in bright light conditions and I have set the video camera settings to allow for auto scene detection to make focusing automatic based on the detected scene in view of zoom changes during the making of the video. Zooming and focusing were easily accomplished.

I have attached a 55mm UV filter to the lens threads with no problem, but make sure to get one with high quality glass, a well-made one that will not interfere with camera focusing and general detection of light.

I have also taken high zoom (up about 40x) pics of the early morning and early night crescent or partial phase of the moon as well. Again, I have found that taking pics of the partial phase (as opposed to full phase) of the moon has produced the best, (most satisfying for me) pics because of the additional shadows produced by the partial light on the edges of the craters which are clearly visible. These shots are also much better defined after using the sharpening techniques noted above. You can really see the crater edges in these pictures.

In summary, in my opinion, this compact bridge camera is a "specialty" camera, intended mainly for the serious amateur and possible professional (as a second or third camera) who knows how to use the camera's inherent strengths to advantage and work around its shortcomings and is willing to explore its many settings and capabilities, including the manual modes. I also think that those who want a simple point and shoot-type camera with a big zoom have many other choices that may be more satisfying and cost a lot less with a quicker learning curve. So far, however, I very much like what this camera can do, how it handles, how it performs (under the scene conditions important to me), its zoom capabilities, its easy-to-select menu options, its construction, and what it can do successfully. Yes, it appears the image sensor is "too small" and the max aperture too low at long zooms given what it tries to do under low light conditions, but what it can do successfully is quite amazing.



I have now finally taken some very clear, fairly crisp, natural looking indoor close-up pics of my granddaughter using the "P" mode dial setting, ISO set to 160 (while letting the camera set aperture and shutter), contrast and sharpness set to "+", using the flash set to auto (but bumped up one notch from the middle setting intensity), noise reduction set to "-", focus point set to "center", and color mode set to "Standard". This was indoors during the day in the morning on a cloudy day in a mid-size room with all room lights turned on for assistance. I was about 6 feet from the subject for most of the shots. This set up was chosen to enable a lot of light on the subject and surroundings. It resulted in the best indoor, daytime "people" pics I have achieved so far with this camera. So much so that I was also able crop down to just her face and this still resulted in the aforementioned clarity and appeal. Little or no additional editing was needed.


Additional Notes:
I have now taken "people" pics of my grandson using the "P" mode, ISO set to 160, with flash set to one notch above the normal setting, AND, most importantly, with the smile detection option set to "medium smile", and face detection enabled. With these options set, the camera will auto detect the child's face, stay focused on the face, and if he (she) is smiling, then auto shoot the picture! It really works! All you have to do is keep the camera directed at the child's face. The camera does the rest! This was especially valuable for a child that is hard to capture when smiling as well as being very active. It worked perfectly, allowing me to get about 9 pics with a great expression and smile while the child was not necessarily looking directly at the camera. This is a very impressive convenience when taking pics of active children.

I have also now taken pics of both the crescent phase of the moon and early evening (sunset) landscape shots using the "S" (or Shutter priority) mode (this mode is favored by the Thomas Wheeler, whose review, noted elsewhere, has been rated the "Most Helpful" Amazon review of this camera), keeping ISO under 400, and keeping a very steady hand while shooting with a slow shutter speed to balance the lower ISO settings in these situations. Results were good, given these low light situations with these manual settings, in fact, much better for my taste than the allowing the camera to shoot these situations in the standard auto or scene modes.

Additional note:
More recently I am shooting predominantly in the "A" mode because this mode subtle allows adjustments to the aperture for most of the pictures I take in the Macro mode (with a low "F" stop setting for a shallow depth of field/blurred background), "People" mode (mid "F" stop setting), and Landscape mode (with a high "F" stop setting for an increased depth of field). Overall, this ability to change the aperture enables me to compensate not just for type of shot and subject but also with slight Exposure Value changes for varying lighting situations and stay away from high ISO values except under extreme conditions. The camera automatically adjusts shutter speed to compensate for the aperture and Exposure Value settings I choose. So don't be afraid to explore what this camera can do beyond the Scene mode and Auto modes.
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on March 17, 2013
I currently use a Panasonic G3 as my main camera and a Sony HX100v as my glorified point and shoot camera when I don't want to carry my entire kit around. Figured I'd upgrade the Sony to this new one. The 50x zoom is epic, I'm surprised how much more impressive the zoom is over the 30x on the HX100 I have. Unfortunately all that zoom doesn't do you a lot of good if you can't get a decent photo out of it. Took around 250 shots over the weekend and was fairly pleased with the camera until I popped the SD card into the computer. What looks great on the tiny camera screen during playback is far less impressive on an IPS monitor. I've shot in multiple modes, ISOs, and quality settings. Only shots I've really been pleased with are the indoor shots using the flash, and nobody buys a super zoom camera for that. Far too much noise in a majority of the shots, and the sharpness just isn't there. I was also surprised how much bigger it was than the HX100. Still fits my hand well, but my existing camera case was a bit tight. Video seems good and the image stabilization works well, even hand held. However at the end of the day the image quality on the stills just isn't up to par. I'm sending it back and will stick with the HX100v, maybe I'll try the Canon SX50, it doesn't have quite so many megapixels crammed onto a tiny sensor.
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VINE VOICEon May 28, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First, I am a Sony Digital fan. In 2001 I purchased my first Sony Digital Camera, a 3.2MP Mavica with Carl Zeiss Lens and I thought it served me well for 5 years before moving into semi-pro DSLR cameras with Nikon (D200 and later D7000). Once you step into DSLR-s, it's hard to be a fan of Point-and-shoot cameras. However, this year, I purchased 2 Sony point-and-shoot cameras for my family (the HX10V and WX-50) and received this one for review from Amazon. I was not going to go back to point and shoot - until I got this camera. It is not a perfect camera, yet it has some unbeatable features (The Zoom for pictures and video) that would be very expensive in the DSLR option. I wanted to use it frequently during at least a month before settling on a review for Amazon.

If you are like me, you look for the average number of stars for Amazon products. In April 2013, this camera had an average 3.5 stars while the HX200 (last year's model) had an average of 4.5 stars despite being an inferior camera in my opinion (no GPS or flip-out screen on the HX300, yet more than 2X better zoom). At the end of May 2013, the HX300 moved up to 4 stars. Even on Snapsort (a site for camera comparisons), the HX300 now scores 1 point higher than the HX200 (a month ago, the HX200 scored higher).

MUST HAVE ACCESSORY: A 55-mm UV filter. I recommend Hoya 55mm HMC UV Digital Multi-Coated Slim Frame Glass Filter. I accidentally fell with my camera, and the only thing that cracked was this filter, the lens was fine. Got a replacement right away.

3 REVIEWING ITEMS and my (subjective) grades:

BASIC PICTURES - 3.5 STARS. I looks at some other reviews that praised the quality of the pictures yet I was surprised at the large amount of bad pictures I took. And I used other point and shoot cameras for comparison. The Intelligent Auto can be very misleading - I can be zooming in on someone 50 feet away and the info reads it as a macro. I would not recommend this camera to a person new to photography - it is also relatively bulky. Once I adjusted the camera settings manually, I was able to take better pictures. I am also not impressed with the panoramic mode and the way pictures are combined - I believe some less expensive cameras are better at that. One last thing on this topic: in my opinion, the 350 pixels per inch for high quality is nowhere close to cameras with a larger sensor that have 300 or less PPI.

For a DSLR to have this type of zoom range, you may have to spend thousands. I can finally took nice pictures of the moon (I uploaded a picture under customer images) and of birds from far away - especially if I use a tripod. I was able to take relatively good pictures of my son playing soccer even right after sunset. Some of the reviewers are disappointed with the quality of pics at full zoom. I got my lesson while taking a picture of the moon: even though I used a tripod, I could see the image shaking from even the lightest vibration and wind gust when focused on the moon. I placed my camera on 2 second delay (with tripod of course) to get the best results. The auto-image stabilizer really does a great job - otherwise all pics would be shaken. Every time you add to the zoom, chances for shake are increased exponentially. That is why cameras such as the wx-50 can have 4.5 stars even though the zoom is only 5X.

VIDEO - 5 Stars
The most memorable experience was when I took this camera to some choir practices and performances held at a mega church. During practice, I held it in my hands. During performance, I used a tripod. I can say that both videos look great on a 50-in TV. I sat in rows 6-7, in front of me there was some open 12-15ft.of space, then about 10 stairs, then some more space (20-25ft) for the performance area, and only in the back there were the bleachers for the choir. I could film the entire choir (each row had about 35 kids) at once, then zoom in to focus on just 1 or 2 faces at one time. I really felt like a kid in candy land with this feature. The focus may not work 100% of the time right away, yet it is very quick to adjust. I definitely prefer this camera even over my digital Camcorder. You can even take pictures while recording video.

TOTAL: 4.5 STARS - as a basic camera, I would give it 3-3.5 Stars. As a super-zoom camera for those who understand how to make manual adjustments, I would give it 5. I have to admit - I've been struggling for a month whether this is a 4 star or 5 star product. The limited focus in low light pictures made me go for the 4.

UPDATE 6/10/13 After playing with the multiple frame feature at the pool, I have to say that I'm impressed with the 8-10 frames per second feature. I asked my son to do some flips while jumping in the pool and they turned out great - even on a 50-in TV. One neat thing about the camera: you can go through the multiple frames by simply tilting your camera after you take the pictures. I am so impressed with the quality of the pictures (true - it is in broad daylight, not in low light settings) that I upgrade the camera (yet again) to 4.5 stars...
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've written numerous camera reviews for Amazon since 2008, all in more detail than this one. What this HX300 excels at is 50X optical zoom, even the 100X Clear Image zoom isn't half bad. There isn't much more technical detail I can say about this as reviewers before me have done a fine job of that.
NOTE #1: My video showing 50X zoom was taken at 1080 MP4 as Amazon doesn't support AVCHD uploads - I made another movie right after, same location, in 1080 AVCHD and comparing them on my PC, I think the MP4 appeared to be slightly better quality. Cloudy, dreary, windy day. BTW, you can zoom using the manual ring or the W/T toggle during the movie mode. I toggled. I did not have the wind buffer turned on but I should have since the wind was strong at the video's end. The camera was hand-held, I used the EVF and my forehead to steady the camera, so not too bad considering no tripod. One thing I want to add after seeing this video HERE, and going to full-screen mode it looks HORRIBLE on Amazon's full-screen mode! Nothing at all like it appears full-screen on my own PC, or streaming my YT video to my TV -- so it must have something to do with Amazon, and not the camera's movie quality. (I also uploaded this video to YouTube, I am Yarii41 on YT if you want to do a search for it).

NOTE #2: I used this camera to upload another video for this item: Smart Solar Aquatic Range Floating Lily Solar Fountain This video I used the lowest movie setting, MP4 VGA and it turned out better quality for an Amazon upload than the video above. I remembered to turn on the wind buffer this time!
This is the first bridge camera I've fallen in love with. It's larger but lighter weight than others, yet the build quality hasn't suffered. It has a lithium-ion battery in place of 4 AA batteries, which helps with the weight and makes the battery door a breeze to close. It has good battery life. Shutter response/focusing/recovery to take the next shot is FAST.

As long as you don't mind toting around a large camera, this will work for beginners who want more than a basic Point & Shoot, to more skilled photographers who don't want to carry a DSLR. With a choice of Intelligent or Superior Auto or P/A/S/M this works for a beginner who eventually wants to learn about Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Full Manual, Etc. What this camera doesn't have is RAW. That's not a big deal to me because I've never used it, but it may be to YOU and a camera in this price range usually has the ability to shoot RAW.

My major complaint is Sony (as well as other manufacturers) think we want higher MP's but they don't increase the sensor size. For this having 20 MP, the 1/2.3 sensor is too small, but having the Bionz CMOS processor seems to help. As a reference I also reviewed the new Sony H200 which has the same size sensor but a Super Had CCD processor and that camera is so much slower with worse images. Of course, that camera is half the price, too.

Here is a bag that works: Case Logic DCB-304 High/Fixed Zoom Camera Case (Black)

No camera is perfect, I've owned over 50 and haven't found the perfect one yet. This one comes close for a bridge camera.
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on April 1, 2013
I bought the camera from Amazon and I bought a VCT-VPR1 Remote Control Tripod from Sony to go with it. I highly recommend that you buy both as it is much easier to focus on distant objects with the remote and take pictures without moving the camera. I have taken great shots of the moon and Jupiter with its moons. I use the camera mostly for birds and scenery shots and I am extremely pleased with all my pictures.
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