New Cyber-shots with big zoom announced
Sony has announced a couple of superzoom additions to its Cyber-shot camera range. Both the compact and the DSLR-like models can record full high definition movies, are GPS-enabled and have the ability to generate 3D stills without requiring the now familiar dual lens setup seen in other cameras. They both offer autofocus speeds comparable to digital SLRs and borrow some advanced technology from the company's Handycam camcorders.
The Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V and DSC-HX9V both benefit from a new back-illuminated, 16.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor with BIONZ image processing engine. Low lighting situations will be helped by a sensitivity of up to ISO3200. The inclusion of Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with the same 3-way shake cancellation found on Sony's premium Handycams is said to result in clearer results, even at the telephoto end of the zoom.
Another feature borrowed from the Handycams is a dual record mode where users can record video and capture 3 megapixel images at the same time, although this is not supported at the 60 progressive frames per second capture rate offered when recording at full 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution.
Single lens 3D images
For the 3D sweep panorama and 3D still image modes, the cameras take two consecutive shots at different focus positions and then create left and right eye images to produce a stereoscopic effect without having to bother with dual lenses. A sweep multi-angle technology takes 15 images at different angles and merges them into one photo, to allow users to view images in simulated 3D on the camera's 3-inch, 921,000 dot resolution display.
The cameras also benefit from high speed autofocus that is said to lock onto a subject in as little as 0.1 seconds, helping ensure that users don't miss any fast moving action. Engaging the background defocus mode results in two snaps being taken at different focus settings, leading to sharply-focused foreground subjects set against a blurred backdrop and, new to the Cyber-shot range, there's an intelligent sweep panorama high resolution mode. Sweeping after pressing the shutter in this mode offers up to 42.9 megapixels (10480 x 4096) of panoramic image.
Like all new models in the Cyber-shot range, the latest additions are fully compatible with Sony's premium SDHC media cards. There's enhanced GPS/Compass functionality, and numerous automated shooting modes to help users get the best from every image opportunity.
The cameras also come with PMB Portable software pre-installed, which caters for upload to Sony's Personal Space online sharing service. When you've uploaded your latest memories, the service can send an email to friends and family that includes an invite for them – and only them – to view your photos and videos. There are also dedicated Android and iOS apps available for download to allow the service to run on smartphones. The same functionality can also be undertaken via a PC using the supplied Picture Motion Browser software.
Pricing and availability
Both cameras will be available online from April 2011.
The DSC-HX100V will come in black only and is priced at US$450 and features a 30x optical zoom, 27mm wide angle Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens with a special coating to reduce flare. It has a similar body shape and control layout to digital SLR cameras and benefits from a manual control ring to control focus or zoom as desired. The battery should be good for around 410 shots.
The DSC-HX9V will be available in black or gold and will cost US$350. It sports a 16x optical zoom, 24mm wide angle Sony G lens and its battery should manage 300 shots before needing some charging attention.