I finally got this camera when it became available here in Montreal, Canada and picked it up yesterday. It's pretty obvious even after one day, how superior it is to any other camera in this sensor size class. I am posting this review here because the camera is not even showing up in my searches on Amazon.ca...
Firstly, the videos are amazingly smooth at 60 frames per second PROGRESSIVE (or 60p; not interlaced like some competitors) at full HD (1920x1080). I have tried panning quickly (quicker than one would normally pan if one doesn't want to tire the eyes of the audience) and filming cars - both of which produced no choppiness as it did with the Canon PowerShot SX220 HS (which I returned due to its choppy videos at only 24p). I have tried low-light photos indoors with tungsten or halogen lighting and at night with just the street lights and car headlights and both come out quite beautiful with a minimal of graininess. This graininess is actually only evident if you enlarge the photo to full size or more than, I estimate, a 21x28 inch print size. And these would have to be taken with 1600 ISO or 3200 ISO in order to be "bothered" by the grain. When I view the photos on my 24 inch wide-screen Samsung monitor and also on my 40 inch Sony LCD HDTV and they look formidably sharp and beautifully exposed, with good colours and pixel sharpness/definition.
I would like to point out that I am a former owner of a DSLR - the Canon EOS 50D, which I sold, to change my photo habits for a more affordable camera which could also do excellent full HD videos. I have also done SLR photography as an amateur since 1981 and even took some photography courses in a degree program, so I'm quite familiar with camera features and how to take photos. This Sony HX100V hits the spot RIGHT ON! It has an astounding lens range from 27mm - 810mm at 4:3 photo format and today, I took a video of some pigeons grazing on a field at maximum zoom, hand held and they were as sharp as at any other lens zoom setting, and with very little camera shake and this is amazing for me!
The GPS is also pretty good at picking up signals. It had problems when I was in the balcony of my solid concrete and brick apartment (9 floors) which has other high buildings around it and a high-voltage hydro transformer next to it, but after walking about 100 feet to the other side of my building on the sidewalk of my street, the GPS picked up the signal faultlessly and kept it.
The flash is also quite versatile. It has a "slow synchro" setting which makes the background and the subject much more natural-looking and more evenly illuminated compared to the normal direct flash setting.
This camera is a wonder because you have control over everything and can adjust anything from white-balance, to exposure during videos, to flash exposure compensation, manual (user controlled) focus point selection and even manual focus!
The camera's auto-focus is very good and can track subjects really quickly. It is probably best to use the multi-focus setting if you are filming in busy places with lots of people or other subjects (like team sports) and you have the option of even selecting your own focus point.
The menus are also intuitive and quite easy to navigate and even have a built-in "help" feature right in the camera menus themselves, whereby, when you press the button on the lower right of the LCD screen with the " delete / ? " symbol, you can check some basic instructions on many features.
The LCD screen is at the same high-quality resolution as most DSLRs and as my old Canon 50D - at 921,000 pixels! It was bright and very sharp, making photo composition very easy. The electronic viewfinder is also very easy to use and sharp enough to use comfortably. The viewfinder also has a dioptric adjustment so that you can vary its focus/sharpness according to your eyes, adding yet another feature to this camera from the higher-end DSLRs, which again delighted me! However, Sony could consider having a fully reversable (180 degree) LCD screen which one can flip to face you when taking self-portraits or when not behind the camera. This feature would help save time in composing your shots.
The ergonomic fit of the camera in my hand was also perfect with that right-handed protrusion serving as a grip, making me miss my old DSLR even LESS! In fact, I don't miss my Canon 50D at all with this amazing HX100Vs quality and versatility and perhaps most importantly, the amount of control it gives the photographer over changing settings and consequently, over his/her photos.
The only gripe I have is a gripe that many people probably already have is that the instructions are not printable in one shot. You have to literally navigate to each page you want to print and print them. Though this can be adapted to in a way, since we can then only print the pages and sections we need, while leaving out the obvious and basic sections which we already know about. But still, a PDF Acrobat format instruction manual is definitely called for.
This camera puts all the cameras in its class to shame since it does things which no others can do yet - 60p video combined with an optical amazing zoom range (I have not even tested the digital zoom yet which would magnify even more), an intelligent and quick auto-focus, flash and overall excellent picture and video quality and all this, while still giving full manual control over all the settings that even professional photographers would be impressed with and many thought would only be found on higher-end cameras.
Way to go Sony! You've done your homework and brought out a great camera which beats the competition hands down!
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