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384 of 394 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets even better!
Ever since the HX5V, the HX handheld series has seen improvement year after year. The HX50V is no exception. It now features 30X zoom, 400 battery shot life and retains the amazing video quality.

I am a gadget geek, so I like buying the new version when it gets released. This year I was waiting for the new HX series and usually Sony announces something in March...
Published 14 months ago by anonymous

versus
108 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Change not always better
I recently upgraded from the HX20, which is certainly a great camera, to the HX50. The plus to the HX50 is certainly the Hot Shoe and why I changed. While both cameras take excellent photos, both cameras also have no viewfinder and in bright light it is impossible to see what you are shooting on the display, you are guessing. While quite expensive (its about the same...
Published 13 months ago by Traveln2


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384 of 394 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets even better!, May 21, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
Ever since the HX5V, the HX handheld series has seen improvement year after year. The HX50V is no exception. It now features 30X zoom, 400 battery shot life and retains the amazing video quality.

I am a gadget geek, so I like buying the new version when it gets released. This year I was waiting for the new HX series and usually Sony announces something in March at the latest. But this year they announced the HX50V in late April. By that time I had already purchased the new Panasonic ZS30 which is the Panasonic's version of a compact long zoom camera which competes with the HX series. After receiving the HX50V and doing some comparisons, the ZS30 is no where near the image quality of the HX50V (Or even my older HX20V for that matter). IQ on the ZS30 looked out of focus and fuzzy when you compare the image of the HX50V. The HX50V images were sharp and more detailed.

I am definitely what you call a pixel peeper (Pixel peeper is someone who opens up images in full and looks for every pixel detail). I was worried with the increased pixel count that IQ would suffer. I can happily say the IQ on the HX50V has improved slightly when compared to the HX20V. The images on the HX50V are more sharp and less noise to them. While the improvement isn't earth shattering, its a step up in the right direction.

****Pros****

- Image quality. Image quality is still sharp and crisp. IQ has improved from last years model (HX20/30V). When I compared both the HX50V and HX20V images, the HX50V had more detail and less noise. I also compared the images to the Panasonic ZS30 and the HX50V images look WAY MORE sharper. You can also see more image details in the HX50V. Outdoor images look sharp and colorful (I would describe it as life like and not overly saturated). Indoor images look good also. With the improved SteadyShot, I was able to take less shaky indoor low light images.

- 30X zoom (720mm). The extra zoom does make a difference. I was able to zoom further away. With the older HX20V I was able to zoom to the farthest mail box down the street. Now I am able to read the numbers on the mail box with the 30X zoom!

- Video quality. The video on the HX50V shoots in HD camcorder quality. I have compared video with my Sony CX560V camcorder and the HX50V video is better because my videos look smoother with less shake in them. When I shot a video with the HX50V and walked around, their was minimal shake in the video. When I did the same test with my CX560V camcorder, lots of shaking occurred in the video (As I expected). Sound capture remains crisp and Hi-Fi just like the HX20V. I am still blown away at how good the video is on the HX50V. The HX50V captures video at 28Mbps 1080P/60p just like my CX560V camcorder. I will now leave my camcorder home and only take this when I'm on vacation for video. The only time I will bring the camcorder is when I need the "NightShot" feature.

- 360 Panorama. I probably won't be using this feature much, but it was fun taking a 360 panorama.

- Build quality. Not only does the HX50V look like an expensive camera, but it also feels like one. It feels solid and the black metal body looks great. When I took some shots, I felt like I was holding a real camera and not a plastic toy.

- No touch screen! I absolutely hate touchscreens on cameras. I especially hate it when you can't turn it off. When I had the Panasonic ZS30, it was very annoying when I accidently touch the LCD screen with my thumb while taking a shot. Touching the LCD screen would "focus" on to the subject (Just like on a smartphone). Touch screens on most cameras are a gimmick in my opinion and only add frustration. It made me take some bad shots unknowingly. I am happy to report the HX50V does not have a touchscreen. Sony if you are reading this, please please please DON'T EVER implement this feature!

- Pop-up flash. The flash pops up mechanically when you press the flash button. It pops up very fast in a blink of an eye. On the previous model (HX20V) the pop up flash was powered up and down by a motor. On the HX50V you have to press it down to lock it back down. I prefer the non-motor because its one less thing to break on me. The flash fills the room nicely (Perfect for indoor shots).

****Cons****

- While the IQ has improved from the previous model(HX20/30V), Sony should have not increased the Mega Pixel count. Had Sony not increase the MP, I bet the images would look even better. I think most consumers who purchase this type of camera are informed enough to know more MP doesn't equal increased IQ.

- The HX50V can not display battery life left in minutes. With the previous HX20/30V model you were able to view how much battery life you had left in minutes displayed on the screen (As long as you used the FG1 "InfoLITHIUM" batteries). The HX50V uses the BX1 batteries which do not have the "InfoLITHIUM" feature. All you get on the HX50V are 4 bar battery meters. I will miss that feature on my HX20V because I could always prepare to preserve battery life right down to the exact minute!

- It's a little on the pricey side but keep in mind it does include wi-fi picture transfer.

- Size. The HX50V is slightly bigger and heavier. I can definitely feel a difference when I use a camera neck strap. My HX20V felt lighter (As it should since it weighs slightly less than the HX50V).

- LCD screen is almost useless in bright sunlight. When I compare the LCD screen from the HX20V, they are identical.

- Battery door is still flimsy and cheap. If you don't handle the battery door like The Hulk, it should be fine though.

****Wishlist for next years HX series upgrade****

- NightShot for video. I wish Sony would add the NightShot feature on this camera. I know it probably won't happen since Sony has been removing the NightShot feature from its camcorder line up (Unless you fork over $$$$ to buy the top of the line model).

- Produce a "InfoLITHIUM" battery for the HX50V so that battery life can be viewed in minutes.

- Lower cost model. Sony could add a lower model and remove the wi-fi feature for those who don't need or want it and knock off $50-$100 bucks.

Overall this camera is a great improvement from last year's HX20/30V and a great upgrade for anyone who is a fan of the HX handheld series. Improved image quality, 30X zoom and longer battery life is what sold me and I'm glad I upgraded. This camera makes me feel confident I won't miss a shot and able to take a good shot no matter how far the subject is. A wonderful vacation camera. I have purchased the HX5V, HX9V and HX20V each year they came out. This is the best handheld zoom camera to buy. It takes sharp pictures and amazing video. I have since sold my Panasonic ZS30 and kept the HX50V as my main camera. The HX50V is the clear winner and takes the crown of best handheld zoom camera to date.
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246 of 260 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HX50V is a winner, May 31, 2013
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
I bought a Sony HX9V a few years ago and when I saw the announcement for the HX50V with its 30x zoom, I thought: "Upgrade time has arrived." The delivery van showed up yesterday and I gave the camera a thorough test drive today. There is good news and bad news. Let's get the bad news over first.

The first photo I tried to make was of a target about 70 cm (28") wide at a distance of about 1 m (39"). The camera wouldn't focus. I tried my HX9V and it focused perfectly. I called Sony and asked what was going on and the nice man suggested my camera must have a manufacturing defect and I should send it back to Sony for a new one. Eventually I figured out that this is complete nonsense. The compromises required to get a 30x zoom into such a small camera meant that the minimum distance at any given zoom just has to be more than the zoom on other cameras. Bummer, but in practice, you don't normally have to get very close with a high zoom.

The second piece of bad news is that after extensive testing (see below) I concluded that the only f-stops available are f/3.5, f/4, f/4.5, f/5, f/5.6, and f6.3. When there is plenty of light, I would have liked f/8, f/11, and f/16, but they aren't available. Also, the fastest shutter speed is 1/1600 sec.

The flash is not automatic, like on the HX9V. You have to manually release it. This is a real minus. The camera should figure out on its own when it needs the flash, pop it up, and use it.

The menu system is quite complicated and it is difficult to find things. For example, there is a MENU button, which when pushed, displays a column of icons, one of which is Settings. But not all the settings are under Settings. Some are in the column of icons. Furthermore, which items are available depends on the position of the mode wheel on top of the camera. All in all, it is confusing and poorly thought out. All the settings should be under Settings and the menu items should be identical no matter where the wheel is, even if some of them are not currently applicable (e.g., ISO in automatic mode).

There is no raw mode so you are stuck with the in-camera processing. In truth though, it is not bad. You can tweak some of the parameters if you want.

The layout of the buttons could be better. The button for shooting videos is in an awful place and can be pushed by accident much too easily. Also, unlike the HX9V, there is an exposure offset dial on top of the camera. Nobody is ever going to use this. It should have been a menu item and the video button placed at the top.

There are several features that warm the cockles of marketeers' hearts, but are useless to photographers, like smile and blink management. Sony: no doubt you are working on automatic detection of people blowing their noses. Please don't include it in the next model and get rid of the rest of it. Just make the shutter lag short and let the photographer decide when to take the photo.

The camera has WiFi to transfer photos to a computer, but WiFi is much slower than USB, so why bother?

Completely inexcusable is that there is no manual in PDF form on Sony's Website. There is a very abbreviated and largely useless manual in the box. Sony did, however, build an extensive Website telling all about the camera, in over 200 pages of HTML. Unfortunately, you have to click on them one at a time to see everything. I bit the bullet, downloaded all of them, and created a PDF manual for other people. I put it at www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/photos/hx50v/manual.pdf for you to download.

Now the good news. The camera is small and light and handles very well, just like the other HX... cameras. The screen is clear and bright. The 30x zoom is smooth and the images at 30x are amazing. Some people who reviewed the camera before it was released were whining about the large number of pixels (20 M) on the small (1/2.3) sensor. These people should buy a Nikon D4. It has a full frame sensor and really big pixels. It is also very expensive, heavy, and doesn't fit in your pocket.

To test the HX50V, I shot a series of photos first using automatic (Superior) and then in programmed mode, at ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600, at different focal lengths. The test shots are at www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/photos/hx50/series-1.zip. These were made in Amsterdam on a bright but windy day. From the EXIF data, you can see all the settings. However, note that the focal length in the EXIF data is the true focal length from the point of view of the camera's optics. To get the 35mm equivalent focal length, multiply the focal length shown by 5.58. For example, 129 mm has the field of view of a 720 mm lens on a (D)SLR.

Also note that holding a camera with a 720 mm lens steady requires some care, even with Steady Shot. In my test shots, I tried hard, but you might detect a bit of blurring in some of the shots.

As mentioned above, the smallest f-stop is f/6.3 and the fastest shutter speed is 1/1600 sec. When I forced the ISO to 1600, the little microprocessor inside the camera was probably sweating bullets, thinking: "Why 1600? Even at 1/1600 sec and f/6.3, there is far too much light coming in; what is this guy thinking? That he is at the North Pole at midnight in December? As you can see, the ISO 1600 photos are way overexposed. Fortunately, in automatic mode, the camera defaults to ISO 80 when there is enough light. The photos in the zip file have names like 101A-ISO=0400.jpg, where the first number is a sequence number which is the same for all the shots at the same location. The A photos are at 24 mm, the C photos are at 720 mm, and the B photos are in somewhere in between.

My conclusion is that there is no visible noise up to ISO 400 and surprisingly little above it. The zoom is great and you can see tremendous detail at 30x. There doesn't appear to be much barrel or pincushion distortion although no doubt if you shoot targets in a lab, you'll find some. In practice, despite the long zoom, distortion isn't an issue.

After making the above tests, I made more tests of the zoom in automatic (Superior) mode. In www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/photos/hx50v/series-2.zip, you will see photos made from 24 different places, again at 24 mm, some intermediate zoom, and 720 mm. These shots show the power and clarity of the 30x zoom.

I also tested the macro capabilities. You can get subjects in focus at a distance of 2 cm from the lens. A shot of a 25 mm x 35 mm stamp is at www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/photos/hx50v/stamp.jpg . Observe how clear the hairs on the monkey's chin are.

I gave the video a short test. It seems OK. For decent HD, be sure to choose AVCHD and not MP4 in the menus though, and set the bit rate to 28 Mbps. Having both AVCHD and MP4 seems redundant though, since both are containers that can hold any codec, any frame size, and any bit rate.

To conclude, despite a few design flaws, the HX50V is a great choice for someone who wants a pocket camera with a long zoom and excellent image quality.
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97 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best pocket camera I have purchased, but could be better, May 30, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
This may be the best pocket size camera currently on the market.
Excellent picture quality for such a small camera. Great resolution and brightness; zoom in on a photo and the detail is very fine.
The image stabilization works really well and is a must for a handheld camera with a large telephoto zoom lens. The stabilization works well in low light too. Love the flexibility the large zoom ratio affords. Max optical zoom, handheld and no blur. Best stabilization I have seen in a small camera.
The bright and clear display provides the operator with a wealth of information with good presentation / navigation. It is not a touch screen which I much prefer.
Functionally the camera worked very well. A myriad of features. Haven't used all the different functions yet. Buttons and rotary switches have good feel and are logically placed.
Very light and small size considering the size of the lens and all the electronics they have to cram inside.
PC connection fine. GPS locates quickly (obviously outside only), haven't tested its accuracy.
The movie quality is very good. I took a few short clips at the highest resolution and they displayed well. Haven't tried the 3D feature.
I always carry a pocket camera, currently this Sony or a Canon Power Shot ELPH. There are times when the smaller and lighter camera (Canon) is more appropriate; hate giving up the power of the Sony.
Excellent value for the money if you want high quality pictures in a small package.
I have already taken some great pictures. Ordered camera from Amazon on April 30.

Cons
1. The battery compartment is poorly designed. It is not obvious which way to insert the batteries especially in low light. Even in the correct orientation some pressure is needed to enable it to slot home. The battery can be wobbled side to side in the slot and it drags on the sides when inserting. The battery catch engages with a small wiggle of the battery; doesn't feel positive. The worst issue is the battery compartment cover. The latch is sloppy and feels like it could release if bumped. It is difficult to know when it is closed fully. The cover itself hinges straight out (90 degrees) on the short side exposing the narrow hinge to easy damage. The cover when closed is not tightly held; a fingernail can be slipped underneath the lip. It sticks up enough that it will snag on clothing and is not dust tight. In the last week I have had the cover come open twice. I'm being more careful to ensure it is latched; may have to use a small piece of tape on the latch.
2. I didn't like the lack of a comprehensive paper user's manual. The supplied sparse documentation is inadequate to be able to operate the camera except the basic functions. This camera is highly sophisticated and the supplied guide is suitable for a cheap snap camera. The built-in on-screen "In Camera Guide" is hard to read except in a darkened room. It is not the same as reading and flipping pages in a book or on a PC screen. Too little information is displayed per screen and navigation that works well for adjusting the camera settings, functions poorly for reading the guide. I checked on line for a better version and none exists. The available video tutorials are for other Sony cameras. Why can't the "In Camera" guide be provided in PDF?
3. I didn't like the manual pop up flash design. I could see the mechanism being easily damaged and the cavity will become a dirt trap. There appeared to be plenty of space for it to be built-in as on other small cameras. The added height can't make that much difference. It does work well but I don't see it lasting long in the great outdoors. It is also where I place my left forefinger to steady the camera; so my natural grip has to change when using the flash. The camera has such good low light capability that I don't see much need for the flash.
4. Battery life is not the greatest and charging with the supplied USB charger is slow. Definitely invest in a second battery and a regular type charger.
5. The HDMI socket in exposed on the bottom of the camera. Dirt will enter and it will be easily damaged.
6. This camera is not dustproof or water resistant (Sony states this quite clearly). Not a good choice for desert or marine environments. A case is a must for this camera in all environments. Not sure why Sony doesn't supply a soft case with the camera. The jacket case (not dust proof) optional accessory enlarges the camera so it is no longer a pocket carry and it's better suited for a larger camera. Sony's soft cases are bulky also, and are designed to be worn on the belt (which is fine too). I am using a fabric lined felt bag with a draw string and it works well in the pocket (3x5in). Sony provides these with some of their accessories.
7. The display is excellent indoors but almost useless in bright sunlight. Which is a great pity, because without access to the display information you might as well just set the camera to "Auto". It also makes framing the picture very difficult. This is of course true of just about any modern digital camera. Sony does offer a viewfinder attachment. Otherwise, sunglasses and a large brimmed hat. The screen is polarized so don't wear polarized sunglasses if you want to take portrait pictures..
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141 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Camera, May 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
This camera is great. I can not describe all of the features, but for this price you do not have to go any further. I had one problem with the speed between taking pictures if the camera was on auto mode. This mode fixes any errors, blurs, etc and it gives you a clean sharp great image. It was a class 10 high speed 32 GB SDHC card I was using. I ordered the SanDisk Extreme 64 GB SDXC Class 10 UHS-1 Flash Memory Card 45MB/s SDSDX-064G-X46 card and this fixed the problems. I can take pictures almost instantly after each other and I get over 1000 shots. Put this card with this camera and you could not ask for better. Now I have not had this combination long, but I love it. I've had multiple cameras for 50 years, I used to teach the old film photo at a community college. Read the features you get with this camera, but I also recommend putting the faster card in. Before I had to wait a few seconds between shots. With the faster card, almost 0 waiting.
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108 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Change not always better, June 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
I recently upgraded from the HX20, which is certainly a great camera, to the HX50. The plus to the HX50 is certainly the Hot Shoe and why I changed. While both cameras take excellent photos, both cameras also have no viewfinder and in bright light it is impossible to see what you are shooting on the display, you are guessing. While quite expensive (its about the same price as the camera), you can get a digital viewfinder that attaches to the HX50 with the Hot Shoe.

To me, the big downside is the flash & the WiFi. If you set the camera to either of the auto modes, the flash is not automatic as it is on the HX20. It is only automatic if you manually pop up the flash. To me this is not automatic. As for the WiFi, I cannot say that it is the quickest thing to use. Make a WiFi that is easy to connect in any WiFi area and that you can upload directly to Facebook or other social media sites and then you will have a decent WiFi. As it stands not, it is easier to just either connect the camera with a cable or insert the media card directly into your computer to upload pictures or take a picture with your phone.

If you are not or cannot go the price of the digital viewfinder and have a previous version of the camera, I would not recommend changing. If this is your first camera in this series, although it is not inexpensive, you might not be bothered by the lack of automatic flash and the lack of a viewfinder would be the same no matter what brand you purchase. As stated previously, this camera, like its predecessors takes excellent photos.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good camera if you keep your expectations realistic!, December 1, 2013
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This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
I've had many digital cameras through the years, as I'm a camera addict. My main cameras are a Canon 60d slr and a Sony NEX 5n. I use the slr when image quality is of utmost priority, but I don't like to lug it and several lenses around all the time. I use the Sony NEX 5n for most of my everyday shooting, but my longest zoom lens for that only goes to 200m. I wanted a camera that was purse or jacket pocket sized with a long zoom for taking on walks and for that unexpected photo opportunity.

I knew that a 20 MP camera with a tiny sensor and huge zoom simply could not produce photos with image quality to compare to my other cameras, so I went into it with realistic expectations. After several hundred photos, I would say the HX50V meets or exceeds my expectations for image quality.

I have a few frustrations with this camera, but some of them I knew about going into it. For instance, having to charge the battery in-camera puts the camera out of commission while it's recharging. This necessitated the purchase of an external battery charger.

Some of the settings are buried in the menu and cumbersome to get to, such as the "format" setting to reformat the memory card. It's a struggle to get to "format", and I like to reformat the card every time I download a batch of photos.

Image stabilization works well on the camera. The colors are very accurate, particularly when you have the color setting set to to R to achieve more natural looking photos. The auto white balance seems to do a good job.

It seems to me that there is a bit of a lag when hitting the review button....like the camera takes a bit longer than I'm accustomed to to write to the card. I'm using a 10x speed card.

When researching travel zooms, I narrowed it down to the Canon SX280 HS and the Sony HX50v. I chose the Sony mainly for the 30x zoom over Canon's 20x, and extra megapixels to allow for more cropping. The battery life on the Sony is rated at 400 shots compared to Canon's 260 shots, also.

This is not a camera for someone who requires Dslr quality photos. Images, when viewed at full size, frequently resemble water color paintings. They look fine when viewed at a size to fit most monitors. I haven't printed any of my photos yet, but I'm guessing that if I tried to print an image at anything above 8x10 it would likely present that water color painting effect.

I would not want this to be my only camera, but as a sidekick to my other cameras I think it's going to meet my needs.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Camera, October 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
Truth in advertising, I am not a professional photographer not even close. I like to take pictures but rarely get very artsy with it. My problem was that I was quickly getting tired of the inadequacies of my previous camera. It was a good small multipurpose camera but too often I missed getting the picture I wanted because it was either too slow or just didn't have the capability to do what I wanted it to do. When I shopped for a new camera I looked extensively at larger cameras in the 18 to 24 ounce range. After reading a review on Amazon about one of those cameras I decided I wanted something smaller. As the person said, it was a great camera but whenever they went out to take pictures they would look at it, decide it was too large and then grab a smaller camera. I knew it would be that way with me also. I wanted a camera with at least a 20X zoom that would be easy to use and would fit in my pocket. I narrowed it down to this one and two others. Based on overall reviews on Amazon and reviews I read on photography sites I opted for this one even though it was more expensive than the others. I have not been disappointed. I used this at my daughters wedding and then again on a trip we took to New Orleans afterwards. It has done everything extremely well. It is very easy to use and easy to navigate to all of the functionality it has and there is a lot. All I know is that people were impressed with the pictures I was able to get given lighting conditions at the wedding. Of course this has a 30X zoom, which is greater than I probably needed but the zoom is fantastic and there were very few instances where shaking was a problem. In fact I can only think of one. Shaking had been a problem with my previous camera which had a markedly smaller zoom capacity. There is still a lot for me to learn about the camera but the beauty of it is the camera when left to it's own devices takes exceptionally good pictures so I can take my time playing with the functionality. Just a couple of words about some of the other functionality of the camera. I asked a friend of mine who knew nothing about the camera to take a movie of the wedding ceremony. It came out extremely well even down to being able to hear everything that was said. I tried the panorama functionality in New Orleans and nothing could have been easier. I was used to having to stitch things together with my old camera. With this one you simply sweep the camera across the area. Nothing could be easier and it worked very well. I wasn't very interested in WIFI. It isn't difficult at all to hook this to your computer or pull the memory card and put it in the computer but I tried it out anyway. It was easy to set up and surprisingly worked very well. I had set up a WIFI connection for a friend of mine's camera and found it cumbersome and very slow. This was easy and relatively fast. BTW my friend sent back their camera. I'll probably still mostly transfer pictures by cable because it is easy and faster but it's nice to know that you can use the WIFI if you want to. For me and my purposes this may well be the last camera I purchase. I can't imagine needing more. I'm very happy with the purchase and would recommend it to anyone.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supringly capable small sensor camera with many useful bells and whistles!, April 22, 2014
By 
S. G. MILLER (Kent, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
I purchased this camera with low expectations. We have owned many digital cameras and camcorders over the past couple decades starting with cameras whose maximum resolution was VGA (640x480). We already have two previous generation small sensor "super zoom" cameras and we also have a pocket sized camera with an optical zoom. All three shoot "HD Video" and when we purchased them we were happy with all of them. I didn't see the point buying a fourth small sensor camera. I am a gadget freak, but I am trying to reform.

Among other things... my wife belongs to a vintage fashion club. She and her friends organize and model in fashion shows to raise money for Children's Hospital and other charitable organizations. For many years I have been taking pictures and video of the events. I am almost embarrassed to admit that we have several HD camcorders; sometimes I hand hold one and simultaneously record on a couple others that are set up on tripods and then combine the footage. But it gets to be too much work, so lately for both pictures and videos my favorite device is the Sony SLT-A65 camera for which I have a number of capable lenses and accessories.

Last week I was coerced into participating in one of the shows myself. My wife decided that she wanted to take some photos of me in the WWII Air Corps "pinks and greens" Uniform that I went on stage with along with a woman who was dressed as my bride. My wife is a slightly built woman; she found the A65 and the large zoom lens I had mounted on it that day to be large and unwieldy. I normally carry a backpack full of lenses, a tripod and other accessories when we take the A65 somewhere. My wife pointed out that on most occasions we do not have it along.

Our other smaller cameras, cell phones, and tablets take pictures that are acceptable for many types of occasions. As I mentioned they are getting a little older and their capabilities obviously are very limited compared to more modern DSLR type cameras. Sometimes we still get really good pictures from them, but after you are spoiled by a camera with a large sensor and a lot of modern features it can be frustrating to use them. So my feeling was that we did not need or even want another small camera. But my wife felt differently and she went on the lookout for a camera that she would feel comfortable using. She wanted a camera small enough that we would actually have it with us most of the time, but something that would capture better images than what we could get with our phones or other older small cameras.

When my wife pointed out the DSC-HX50V camera to me at a local retailer I remained skeptical. I asked her once again why we would want another camera with a sensor just a fraction of an inch larger than the one found in an iPhone? (1/3" vs 1/2.3") But most of the time when she is happy I am happy. So after a few days of mulling it over we got one. She was right and I was wrong. The camera is amazing. We have had it just a couple of weeks, but it keeps suprising me. I have become a believer. The camera just takes excellent photos. The videos are also incredible. Because of the camera's relatively deep depth of field, focusing for video is not as much of a challenge for it.

The HX50V has in camera HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing that works incredibly well. You press the button, it takes several pictures using different settings and combines them to give you a better picture than the sensor would normally be capable of taking. It also has the external multipurpose shoe. I bought an adapter so that I can use a third party external flash and also my radio flash trigger that can set off multiple flashes simultaneously. This feature is far more handy than most people might realize. I have been using an inexpensive flash that works with the automatic TTL features with my Sony A65. The TTL works with this camera as well firing off a test flash to a asses the lighting and adjust the power of the flash.

There is only one caveat with using an external flash. To get it to work one most first open the internal flash with the camera in a mode that will use the flash. Then turn on the external flash. Then close the internal flash. If the camera goes into standby the procedure needs to be repeated.

Most impressive of course is the zoom lens combined with the great image stabilization. I was able to take pictures from the Space Needle of ships and cranes at the Port of Seattle approximately two miles away for a friend of mine. He has an import export business and wanted pictures for his web site. The images turned out great handheld without a tripod. My A65 has good in body stabilization also, but my longest lens is 300mm. I usually put the camera on a tripod if I want good results in full zoom. So this little camera has incredible reach even without a tripod. Some of the HDR features can be used to make the pictures turn out clearer than with image stabilization alone. This also allows one to get clear images in low light.

One of the features that I didn't realize would be useful for us was the wifi. As it turns out it is extremely convenient to be able to send your images from your camera to your phone or tablet when you are out and about. My wife set up a display at a museum recently and it was very nice to show her the pictures in a larger format while we were still there. You can also control the shutter and zoom from your phone while seeing the scene live. Then the picture you take is instantly uploaded. I didn't realize that it could also display a slide show on our HDTV wirelessly through our Sony Blu-Ray player. Of course you can also upload to your computer through wifi as well... which if you haven't taken hundreds of photos can be convenient.

So to summarize... the DSC-HX50V is a great camera. It is small enough that when you see something that you wish you could take a picture of you might just have it with you. The pictures actually come out looking better than you expect that they will much of the time. Instead of feeling disappointed that we failed to capture the essence that we were hoping for we seem to be saying "wow" that is almost as good as being there. And the extra features are quite amazing also and surprisingly useful.

So that is kind of the end of my review, but I also wanted to discuss large sensor vs small sensor cameras. It is the small sensor that makes it possible for this camera to have the huge amount of zoom that it does. A full size 720mm lens would be very large and expensive and I am unaware of any that can go full wide angle as the one that comes on this camera can. The technology behind the sensor on this little camera is quite amazing... it is obviously much more efficient with the smaller amount of light it is sampling than larger sensors are. Also the digital trickery that the tiny computer inside the camera is able to perform to get the most out of the sensor is quite amazing as well.

A camera with a small sensor currently cannot do everything that a camera with a large sensor can do. Cameras with larger sensors take larger lenses that have larger apertures and they can collect much more light. This obviously helps with their low light capabilities, but even more importantly from an artistic perspective... without digital trickery cameras with small sensors generally can not achieve as narrow a depth of field (or focus). A narrow depth of field is one of the primary tools that photographers use to create beautiful artistic photos. That is one of the primary reasons why in this time of miniaturized everything you still see photographers running around with giant cameras with massively large lenses.

There are excellent articles discussing this if you search for "Full Frame Equivalence" in a search engine.

I will try to summarize here. A camera with a "full frame" 35mm sensor has a sensor that is 36mm by 24mm or 864 sq. mm. My beloved Sony SLT-A65 has an APS-C sensor that is 23.5mm by 15.6mm or 366 sq mm. The DSC-HX50V has a sensor that is 6.2mm by 4.6mm or 28.52 sq mm. An iPhone has a sensor that is 3.56mm by 2.68mm or 9.5 sq mm. I think that it is fairly obvious to everyone that a tiny sensor is going to be working with a lot less light. Small sensors must be much more sensitive than the larger sensors... and they are, but of course at this time they still cannot match the performance of a much larger sensor. But their is another issue that is more vexing and one that is true but somewhat misleading in the specifications.

The front of the lens on the DSC-HX50V has printed on it, "3,5 -6,3/4,3-129". The multi-purpose zoom lens that is currently mounted on my SLT-A65 has printed on it, "18-200mm 1 : 3.5-6.3". On the HX50V the numbers 4,3-129 are referring to the zoom length of the lens which is 4.3mm to 129mm. Because of the "crop factor" which is referring to the much smaller dimensions of the sensor as compared to a full frame 35mm sensor, the 35mm equivalent for the lens is marketed as having as 24mm to 720mm. This calculation is made by all major camera manufacturers and fairly well understood.

The numbers that people have a harder time with are the "3,5-6,3" and the "3.5-6.3" which on both lenses is referring to the maximum "f-stop" for the lens at full wide angle and full zoom. This is referring to the aperture which is how wide the blades that control how much light passes through the camera can open. The numbers on the two lenses above are the same, so one would assume that the openings would be the same size, but this is not the case. The opening size controls not only how much light can pass through the lens in a given amount of time, but also the depth of focus or field. If the lens has a larger opening the depth of field is shallower... less of the picture is in focus. If you have a smaller opening more of the picture is in focus.

For pictures of landscapes, mountains and many other types of scenes... having most of the picture in focus is desirable. However photographers covet a shallow depth of field for beautiful portraits, close-ups and artistic control over the image. Photographers pay huge amounts of money for lenses that have as wide an aperture as possible. It is the actual dimensions of the aperture not "f-stop" that largely determines depth of focus.

How is f-stop determined? If a 50mm lens has a maximum aperture of 25mm, it would be an f/2 lens. For the HX50V at its widest angle the lens is 4.3mm and the widest f-stop is 3.5 so the actual opening is 4.3mm / 3.5 f-stop = 1.22mm. For comparison widest angle and the widest f-stop on the lens currently on my A65 is 18mm / 3.5 = 5.14mm. At full zoom the HX50V lens is 129mm / 6.3f-stop = 20.47mm for its widest opening. At full zoom the lens on my A65 is 200mm / 6.3 f-stop = 31.74mm.

For my A65 which has an APS-C sensor and a 1.5 "crop factor" compared to a 35mm camera at my widest angle the 35mm equivalent f-stop is 3.5 x 1.5 = 5.25 f-stop, but on the HX50V which has a "crop factor" of 5.6 as advertised by Sony so the equivalent f-stop is 3.5 x 5.6 = 19.6. One of the most popular positive reviews on Amazon laments the loss of the higher f-stops which he mistakenly believed was 6.3 but is actually f-stop 8. If you multiply 8 x the crop factor of 5.6 the actual equivalent 35mm "f-stop" is 44.8. So his concern may not have been as valid as he felt it was.

In practical terms what this means is that if you want to get a photo with a subject that is in focus and a background which has an attractive blur (known as "bokeh")... you basically must zoom the lens in. This allows the aperture to open up enough at the widest F stop in Aperture mode to achieve a narrow depth of field. I have been able to get what I consider nice "bokeh" using this camera this way. This was pleasant suprise... I didn'the realize it would even be possible with a small sensor camera.

The reason that we can get as much performance as we do out of tiny sensors is that they tend to be more efficient at processing light than larger sensors. And with small processors that work with them are able to use digital trickery to get more out of them. What really matters is the final output. These days tiny, relatively inexpensive devices are able to turn out much higher quality images than was possible just a few years ago.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Zoom, Good Wide Angle, Good Value, October 29, 2013
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
While it cannot compare to the new full frame cameras, this point & shoot is a great portable value for the a serious shooter. The sensor provides decent image quality, and while it's not a D-SLR is sure goes more places. While manual, aperture and shutter priority modes are appreciated, it would've been nice to have the option to shoot in RAW. The 1080p video quality is acceptable, but you're not shooting an indie film with this camera. Video mode is easily accessible with one button.

The pop-up flash is out of the way enough that redeye is very rare. Image quality in normal lighting is excellent up to ISO 1600. Low light shooting is quite acceptable, but grain starts becoming more and more apparent with higher ISOs. Still for a P&S the low light image quality is quite good. Prices for the HX50 have been dropping since it was first released and one can do much worse than this little camera for your point and shoot needs.

Sony firmware is easy to navigate, and easy to learn. Features are relatively easy to find, except it did take me a while to find white balance, in fact I was not crazy about the fact that I had to look for white balance in full auto mode. I expected the intelligent auto mode to compensate for lower Kelvins with more realistic skin tones.

Sure there are some drawbacks commensurate with this camera's price point, this is still a great value and gives you something small to tote around when you don't want to lug an SLR.

Update - seems I originally missed the auto White Balance settings in the menu, it is actually easily accessible, just depends on the shooting mode you're using.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really nice!!, June 1, 2013
By 
BPRadar (New Braunfels, TX USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) (Electronics)
I am more and more impressed with Sony's cameras. I have used Nikon SLRs and Coolpix cameras since the 1970s so I am pretty devoted to Nikon. I tried Canon digital cameras and had some reliability issues.

This camera is fabulous. I love the 30:1 zoom. I bought it for NBA games because they won't let me bring in my NEX-5N (it has an interchangable lens). The DSC-HX50 has many of the same features but it has added GPS and WI-FI. It seem reliable and feels great. I love that I can download Sony's Playmemories software (stupid name) and use my smart phone or iPad as a remote for the DSC-HX50. I am going to set it up on a tripod and take photos of the hummingbirds at the feeders. There are a million applications for a photographer with an imagination and this software!

I still love my NEX-5N and will continue to use it but the DSC-HX50V/B will go with me everywhere.
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