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Sony has introduced its newest high-zoom digital camera, the Cyber-shot DSC-HX1, with even more zoom than its previous entries. While earlier models had 15x lenses, the new HX1 packs a 20x optical zoom and some newer features. Available at the end of April, the Sony HX1 will retail for $499.
The older Sony H50 has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x lens. According to the March 2 press release, the new HX1 is the first Cyber-shot digital camera to include a Sony G lens. The lens has a 28-560mm range and a bright max aperture of f/2.8. At 28mm, the zoom lens is already wide enough to photograph some landscapes and Sony has included a new feature to make it an even better panoramic camera: “sweep panorama technology.” When the user pushes the shutter release button and slowly moves the HX1 in one direction, the camera takes a quick burst of images and automatically stitches them together in a single 224-degree horizontal shot or 154-degree vertical shot. According to Sony, the Cyber-shot HX1 is the first digital camera to include this technology.
“This panorama mode is so seamless that it removes the guesswork,” said Karim Noblecilla, senior product marketing manager, Sony Electronics Digital Imaging Division, in the press release. “The camera indicates where you are in the degree range, so you know how wide you can shoot and stitches the photos automatically. It calculates and aligns pictures for you without using additional software.”
The Sony HX1 grabs its panoramas using a 9.1-megapixel, 1/2.4-inch Exmor CMOS and Bionz image processor. The technology also allows users to take 10 frames per second at full resolution in the burst mode. This is a huge improvement on the Sony H50, which also has 9.1 megapixels but on a Super HAD CCD sensor; the H50 couldn’t even reach 2 frames per second at full resolution.
“Traditional CMOS sensor technology provides higher shutter speeds, but we are using what we call an Image3 system that combines the best image, sensor and processor,” Noblecilla said. “By combining this sensor with a high-quality Sony G lens and powerful Bionz processor, we are able to create solutions beyond fast speed that helps consumers get better pictures.”
The image sensor creates better pictures particularly in the Twilight and Anti-Motion Blur shooting modes. In these modes, the camera takes six images in a fraction of a second and then combines the images into one file composing the sharpest possible picture. Like the H50, the HX1 uses Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization system to keep blur from ruining photos.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 includes Intelligent Scene Recognition and face detection and other technology like Smile Shutter, all designed to easily grab better shots. While these features were included on previous Cyber-shot cameras, a face memory function makes its first appearance on the HX1. This new feature registers a particular face and then prioritizes focus and exposure whenever the face reappears before the lens.
The Sony HX1 is also the first Cyber-shot digital camera to include 1080p video capability. The 20x zoom lens is fully functional in the movie mode, and a built-in stereo microphone sweetens the deal. Standard resolutions are available along with the HD 1440 x 1080-pixel, 30 fps video that records in H.264 format.