Review: Sony Cyber-shot HX5V digital camera

Ask a geek to design the ultimate point and shoot camera, and the list of specifications would probably come close to the camera in this review. The Sony Cyber-shot HX5B really does appear to have it all.

Inside the camera is a 10.2 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS image sensor, sweep panorama mode, anti-blur motion mode, twilight mode (for photos at night), 10x optical zoom. 720p MP4 / 1080i AVCHD HD video, GPS, compass, optical image stabilization, 10fps shooting mode (at full resolution), Memory Stick and SDHC compatibility, HDR mode, scene recognotion, anti-blink option and HDMI output.

As I said – this is a list of stuff I’d describe for the ultimate camera – so, does the HX5V actually manage to deliver what it takes to combine all these cool features into usable camera? Read on and find out!

Lets start with the controls (sorry for the poor shots, I was outside in 12 degree weather). On the top of the camera are buttons for the mode selector dial, zoom/shutter release and power. Right above the lens is the stereo microphone.

On the back is a D-Pad for menu and feature selection, a quick movie mode button, large 3″ LCD screen with an anti-reflective coating. As you can see from the icons, the screen is a bit cluttered, and it isn’t always logical why/where icons are placed.

Using the camera is a treat – albeit one with that may actually require a bit of reading in the manual. Photos turns out perfect – most of the time. If you are like me, you’ll constantly keep the camera in intelligent auto mode – and the intelligence is thankfully enough to never have to worry about what it does to your shots. Advanced photographers can switch it to a variety of other modes. The various modes in the camera are:

  • Easy (intelligent setting with simplified display)
  • Intelligent Auto
  • Program Auto
  • Manual exposure
  • iSweep Panorama
  • AVCHD movie mode
  • Scene selection (high sensitivity, soft snap, sports shooting, landscape, twilight portrait, twilight, gourmet, pet, beach, snow, fireworks)
  • Backlight correction HDR
  • Handheld twilight
  • Anti-motion blur

The iSweep panorama mentioned in the mode list is quite a lot of fun – select the mode, press the shutter, and move the camera from left to right. The end result is a 4080×1080 panorama shot, without the need to manually stich anything together. Just sweep and let the camera do all the hard work.

The 10x optical zoom is fast, and has a great wide angle – as you can see in the photo below.

Things I don’t like on the camera? It needs a special dongle to connect it to anything – USB, HDMI and composite video all come out of a large plug on the bottom. In this day and age, I’d prefer a camera that has regular (Mini) USB plugs and MicroUSB. Canon is a good example of a company that understands this. That said – with the amount of features built into the HX5V, I can see how the designers managed to run out of room for separate plugs. To charge the battery, you need to remove it, and plug it into the (included) wall charger.

As I mentioned earlier – photos turn out perfect – most of the time. When it works, it works very, very well. But every now and then, a photo just randomly turns out quite poorly. For no apparent reason, the camera seems to just give up. Now, this isn’t a huge deal – if you make lots of photos of the same thing, but if you are shooting that once in a lifetime action shot, you may end up disappointed.

And finally, I find the menu system a tad confusing. Normally, I can browse my way around any camera after a couple of minutes of hands-on time, but the HX5V manages to confuse you – which is why you really will need to read the manual before heading out on a trip with it.

Still, at $279.99 you really won’t find a better equipped camera – especially one that performs this well. The HX5V is lightweight, has everything a traveler could need (great lens, GPS, good battery life) and is exceptionally well priced. For more on the Sony Cyber-shot HX5V, head on over to