March 11, 2009 Loaded with all the latest technology that Sony could muster, the HX1 Cyber-shot camera unveiled at PMA 2009 features 1080p video capability, 10 frames per second shooting, a 20x G series zoom lens and the company's new Exmor image sensor and BIONZ processor. It's also Sony's first camera to include sweep panorama - a mode that captures 224-degree horizontal or 154-degree vertical panorama's by moving the camera in a continuous sweeping motion. The resulting automatically stitched image has a maximum resolution of 7152 x 1080.

The HX-1 boasts several firsts for the Cyber-shot range: a Sony G lens (28-560 millimeter f/2.8-5.2 wide-angle lens with 20x telephoto range), 1080p HD movie clip recording capabilities and a new 1/2.4-inch Exmor™ CMOS sensor which facilitates burst speeds of 10 frames per second at full 9.1 megapixel resolution and reduces noise by about 50 percent in handheld twilight or anti-blur modes according to Sony. To achieve this, the camera takes six shots at high speed and immediately calculates the position of objects in each frame and superimposes them into one picture.

Sony also says that its use of a mechanical rather than electronic shutter helps reduce distortion when shooting a moving subject.

Movie recording includes audio via a built-in stereo microphone records crisp and the use of the HX1's 20x wide optical zoom. In the 1080p HD resolution mode, shooting is at 30 frames per second (1440 x 1080) using the high-compression MPEG4 AVC/H.264 format. Other recording options include standard-definition video and VGA.

The HX-1 also features Sony's Intelligent Auto system which consists of Optical SteadyShot™, face detection and iSCN technologies. The latter recognizes scenes and lighting conditions within one-thirtieth of a second and automatically selects the one of eight shooting modes to suit the situation. There's also an iSCN Advance feature in which the camera takes a second shot and lets users choose the best picture. When combined with face motion detection, the camera also chooses and saves the pic where the eyes are least closed. Finally, a new selected-face memory function allows the user to select a "main face" and optimizes focus, exposure, flash and white balance for the shot accordingly as well as remembering the chosen face for future shots.

Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 pre-sales will start in March. The price: about USD$500.

First impressions

While we're not fans of the SLR-like form factor, we have to admit that this camera is innovative and impressive. We're looking forward to a true test, but our brief hands on experience using the camera at PMA 2009 leaves us feeling optimistic about this camera. Look for a full test report at a later date.

Dave Weinstein

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