Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V Review
Originally Posted: April 16, 2012
Last Updated: April 16, 2012
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V ($479) is a high-end super zoom camera that does just about everything imaginable. Whether you're talking about its built-in GPS, 360 degree panorama maker, 10 fps burst shooting, instant HDR photos, or 1080/60p videos, the HX200V has nearly every bell and whistle ever created. To top it off, it features the highest resolution sensor in a compact camera (18 Megapixel, which may or may not be a good thing) as well as one one of the most powerful zoom lenses (30X).
The HX200V has some tough competition, though, from the likes of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Panasonic. Is the Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V the best super zoom camera on the market? You're about to find out.
In some countries, a model without a GPS is also available. This camera is known as the DSC-HX200 (without the "V").
What's in the Box?
The Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V has a rather unremarkable bundle. Here's what you'll find when you crack open the box:
- The 18.2 effective Megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V camera body
- NP-FH50 lithium-ion battery
- AC adapter
- Lens cap w/retaining strap
- Shoulder strap
- Micro USB cable
- 36 page basic manual
The Cyber-shot HX200V has a healthy amount of built-in memory -- 105MB to be exact. That holds seventeen photos at the highest quality setting, which isn't bad for emergencies. That said, you'll probably want to buy an actual memory card right away. The HX200V supports both SD/SDHC/SDXC and Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, and I'd suggest a 4GB card at the very minimum, and a larger card if you plan on taking a lot of Full HD video. Buying a high speed card (Class 6 or higher for SD cards) is a good idea. If you have a Sony laptop that supports their TransferJet wireless protocol, the camera supports that feature when a compatible MS Duo card is installed.
The camera uses the same NP-FH50 lithium-ion battery as many other Sony cameras. This battery holds 6.1 Wh of energy, which is pretty good for a compact camera. Here's what that looks like in terms of battery life:
As you can see, the HX200V's battery life is second only to the Kodak. If you've got the GPS off, the HX200V should make it through a day of shooting with plenty of room to spare. If you are using the GPS, battery life will certainly drop, though Sony doesn't say by how much. Turning off GPS logging will keep battery drain to a relative minimum. If you want to pick up a spare battery, a Sony-branded one will cost around $38.
The DSC-HX200V's battery is charged internally, using the included AC adapter. Unlike on some Panasonic models I reviewed recently, charging is fast -- it takes just 100 minutes to fill up the NP-FH50. Still, if you want to charge a spare battery you'll need to buy the BC-TRV external charger (priced from $31).
The HX200V is very light in the accessory department. Here's all you can buy for it:
No external flash for you!
Sony doesn't even include their software bundle on a CD-ROM disc anymore. The PlayMemories Home software is actually on the camera itself, and you can install it by plugging the HX200V into your Windows-based PC. PlayMemories Home is essentially a re-skinned version of Picture Motion Browser, which does it's job pretty well. In addition to importing photos from the camera, PlayMemories can also share them via e-mail, prints, and on photo/video sharing websites. Editing tools include redeye reduction, brightness/saturation/tone curve, and sharpness. There's also an Auto Correct function which attempts to fix things with a single click. You can view photos on a map (assuming that their location was tagged), and upload "assist data" to the camera, which is supposed to reduce satellite acquisition time.
Mac users are left out in the cold when it comes to photo editing. The only thing Sony provides is a link to a website that basically says "use iPhoto instead", which isn't a bad suggestion. Unfortunately, iPhoto doesn't upload GPS assist data.
Sony uses two different codecs for video recording on the DSC-HX200V: AVCHD and MPEG-4. The PlayMemories software can be used to view all videos produced by the camera, and it can remove unwanted footage from your clip, or save a frame as a still image. While it can convert videos to WMV format, they'll be VGA quality. PMH can also burn videos to Blu-ray or DVD discs. If you want to use a commercial product to edit your videos and plan on using the AVCHD Progressive (1080/60p) mode, check with your software manufacturer to make sure you can actually edit the video.
Mac users can edit MPEG-4 and most AVCHD videos with ease, using iMovie or Final Cut Pro X. You will not be able to open the AVCHD Progressive videos however, unless you run them through Media Converter first (be sure to download the AVCHD rewrap plug-in, as well).
Long-time readers of this website know that I'm not a fan of how camera manufacturers have been skimping on printed manuals. While most have been putting the full manuals in PDF format on an included CD-ROM disc, Sony has gone even further -- they don't even provide a full manual. Instead, there's a link to their support website, where you'll find an HTML-based manual. This manual is difficult to navigate (though at least it's searchable) and lacking in both the detail and user-friendliness department. Documentation for the included software is installed onto your PC.