323 of 329 people found the following review helpful
Very versatile camera/video recorder, has DSLR like shutter performance, robust automatic settings.
, May 28, 2012
This review is from: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V 18.2 MP Exmor R CMOS Digital Camera with 20x Optical Zoom and 3.0-inch LCD (Black) (2012 Model) (Electronics)
I have had many digital cameras over the years both point and shoot and DSLR. Mostly from the names you would expect: Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Olympus. I hadn't frankly ever thought of Sony for a camera although I have had Sony camcorders that were very good. I have quite enjoyed using the DSC-HX30V as it has provided vibrant photos in a variety of settings. The 30V really shines in the automatic settings. Although you can set shutter speed and aperture, the 30V was intended to be a high-quality point and shoot that uses the built in powerful software to produce good, well-balanced and saturated shots both indoors and out.
There are two automated modes: superior auto and intelligent auto. Superior auto gives you the fewest options. There was a learning curve to what is available with each type of shooting. The best thing to do is press the menu button. Depending upon the shooting mode more or fewer options show up both in the menu and for options chosen by the 4 way wheel button. For instance I was interested in trying out the burst continuous photo option. That is not available in the superior auto. But it is available under intelligent auto. The smile detect which does actually work (pretty cool you can focus on a subject and the camera will just wait till it detects a smile then fire a shot) was available in intelligent auto not superior auto. Another example: you can't select an ISO until you are either in program auto or manual exposure shooting modes.There is a built in product manual where you can search by keywords and subjects. This is handy but it was only by trial and error that I found what features were available in which modes. The written manual (fairly sparse overall) and the on-camera version don't list which modes which features work in.
Wifi: Obviously Wifi use with this camera is going to be something many people are interested in. I know I was. So far it has been a mixed bag. Wifi to the computer has worked very well. It located my computer and then I had to one time connect to the access point (my Wifi router) and put in the network password. Decent speed in downloads and it will download pictures and video. Downloading to a smartphone. I was very interested to use this feature as you could be out and about say at a child's ballgame and take a great action photo zoomed in way more than a smartphone could and want to share it. I have an iPhone. You need to download the app Playmemories mobile. There is another app Playmemories online but you want the mobile one for sharing with your smartphone. The camera sets up its own network with password. Connect to that network in settings (with an iPhone) and then fairly quickly start the app. Although I get an error message every time that says cannot connect to device it has reliably been connecting and then allowing me to copy photos to my iPhone photo folder. What I have not got to work is video. There are 4 video resolutions and I tried them all. On both the iPhone and iPad. It simply will not download video onto the phone. I am sure Sony is working on this and I expect it to get fixed. It is a nice feature to get to download the photos at least onto a smartphone when out and about.
There is so much else going on with the 30V I am going to summarize the pros and cons below.
Extremely fast shooting. I have the Nikon P7000 which I really like but the 30V rivals a DSLR with how fast it shoots when you press the shutter button, especially in Superior auto. You are much less likely to miss a shot.
Very nice, well balanced and nicely color saturated shots in the auto modes. I like my DSLR but with a soon to be 2 year old I have daddy duty when out and about. It is often just too much work to be part of the families day AND have a DSLR and have to change lenses.
Zoom. I love having a 20X optical zoom. It also has a very good digital zoom. I went all the way to 4OX and shot a small wren or warbler across our backyard. There was still a good amount of light in the photo and you could pick out the individual feathers and veins in the leaves. So I would say yes Sony did make a very good digital zoom once you go past 20X.
Size. I held it against an iPhone 4. It is about a quarter of an inch less in length and around the same in width. Much thicker though. Still very impressive.
Video. The great thing about digital cameras nowadays is their ability to act as video cameras as well. I have gotten good video indoor and out with extremely smooth zooming (very impressed with zooming while shooting video) and good audio. Just be aware AVCHD is not the best format for social media sharing or even burning onto DVDs. The two 1080p modes warn you that you need a Blu-ray burner to create a disc. So I have been shooting in 1080i mode. It is still very good. I also have software that allows me to change the AVCHD to a variety of other media formats.
Good interface. A lot of information is presented to you and changing settings is very simple once you play around with the camera for a bit. You get a variety of options for deleting photos for instance. Delete one, delete a range, delete by day. The interface was well thought out and the playback and screen quality is very good and I haven't even used the highest screen resolution.
Decent software. Not the most powerful software but I LOVE that playmemories home allows you to view all of your photos in a calendar format. It is fantastic to be able to go by year or month and see the photos displayed on the day they were taken. And the software quickly found all my photos going back years and added them to the calendar listing. Small amount of editing features but all the basics are included.
Battery is so-so. Just a decent battery. You might want to invest in a spare.
Video: Overall this is a pro but right now at least for me I can't get video to share to a smartphone or tablet with playmemories mobile. Also I am not a huge fan of AVCHD for sharing or burning discs. But there are work arounds for this.
No shoulder strap option. For cameras that are also going to be used for video, there should be a shoulder strap option. There is just a wrist option.
The 30V does not shoot in RAW but there are an impressive variety of options for DSLR enthusiasts and people who like to expriment with their photography. The 30v is intended to be an advanced point and shoot not DSLR like. That being said it shoots fast which is the one best DSLR feature (aside from a big sensor) I would want in a point and shoot. And the sensor is pretty impressive. I have not noticed a lot of noise indoors and I get around 7.5 MEG photos in the highest quality setting. One thing to note is that you change EV setting easily in ALL modes including Superior auto. And for the DSLR users thinking of a point and shoot Program auto mode gives you a lot to play with including changing metering, changing focus points, changing white balance, ISO control, color saturation level, and contrast control.
Overall the 30V is an impressive technological package. It continues to surprise me. For instance I was shooting video and focusing on my daughter and up on the screen it started flashing infant. It knew I was shooting an infant. In the auto modes it identifies the best scene very well. I have taken many great shots in the auto modes and I suspect most people will use these modes the most: the 30V does not disappoint here. I love my DSLR but I frankly use point and shoots more. I know many people don't but I like having a 500mm lens in my pocket and a good video camera to boot. What has really impressed me is how fast you get a shot. This was the missing link for me to really enjoy a point and shoot. Sony did a great job here and I am not missing shots anymore. Even though this is a long review there are many features I left out. Sony/Amazon did a good job though explaining them. From a user perspective this is an enjoyable camera producing well-balanced, well-lit, crisp photos and good video. Add the speed of shooting and I highly recommend the 30V.
Update August 23, 2012. The camera continues to operate great. But I wanted to update that I have taken video in many more lighting situations than before. The video is VERY impressive. Crystal clear and fantastic colors outdoors and also very well balanced colors and impressive quality indoors. In fact it is better than any stand alone video camera I have used previously. I shoot video in what Sony calls FH mode. It is 1920 by 1080 at 60i. It is the 3rd out of 4 video quality options and still quite good. Outdoor video played on my TV looks like an HD TV broadcast. And, the HX30V produces the best indoor video quality of any video camera I have used.
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