Have you been looking for a small camera that could possible replace your DSLR? Specifically when taking trips in which weight and big size of the cam might be an issue?
Well, the new Sony HX9V might be the camera you've been looking for. Update: Check out the improved Sony HX30V. It's awesome for short outdoor nature videos and also for small scale video productions.
Just as Pete from GroovyVlog says: it's not better than a DSLR but is almost as good as one. His video review is one of the best out there (very well produced) so I embedded his clip below.
Where to get the Sony HX30V (updated version) for the best price
As usual, Amazon.com offers the best deal and the item qualifies for free shipping.
Also available on:
extra battery as well. You'll need it as the battery only lasts for about two hours when shooting video. Consider buying only original Sony batteries, G type, Lithium Ion NP-BG1.
I bought an extra battery manufactured by Hama, with the same specifications, and I wasn't able to use the Sony. The camera turned on for a few seconds, displayed a message like "Use only original Sony battery" and then turned off. It seems that Sony coded their own batteries so the camera would only work with them. Maybe other non-original batteries can "trick" the camera but Hama didn't (I returned it).
The Sony HX9V price is slightly higher (+ $0.99) at BH Photo Video but they also offer free shipping (within USA only, just like Amazon).
Best features or why you'll love this compact camera
- Background defocus (DOF) - this is what we all love to do with our shots. This feature was exclusive to DSLRs or other high end photo/video cameras. Now you can have your subject sharp while the background is blurred - all with the small Sony.
- Sweep panorama - a cool shooting mode where you just hold the shutter button pressed and turn your camera to capture the surrounding landscape. What you get is an instant panorama (no more joining the shots on your computer - the camera does it for you).
- 16x optical zoom - awesome for shooting wildlife (amateur birdwatchers might like this) and for shooting macro without actually getting closer to your subject.
- 1080p HD video in 60 frames per second (50 fps for European market) - shoot those action scenes and render your videos in super slow motion. And of course that wicked cinema-like aspect ratio (almost 2:1) when you crop your vids shot in 1980/1080.
- Face recognition shots - these are really amazing! The camera can shoot photos automatically when it detects a face, when it detects a smile (you can set for Big Smile, Normal Smile, Slight Smile), it can focus on people's faces with child priority or adult priority. It also shoots two pictures if it detects that one person in the frame was blinking (had his/her eyes shot basically) - you get a notification on your display saying "Blinked eye detected". The anti blink feature is available in SCN mode with Soft Skin or Soft Snap - press Menu and set the anti blink to Auto. See details on Cyber Shot User Guide.
- 10 shots per second photo burst mode - capture that cliff jump in a series of stills. How cool is that for a compact?!
- Stereo sound capture - good sound capture with two microphones. The video master geeks will only qualify the sound as decent, but decent is good enough for us amateurs, isn't it?
However, I can see the value in GPS location (you also have a compass so you can find true North - that's pretty cool) when you get to beautiful remote places on unmarked trails (or no trails at all). You turn the GPS on and you record the exact position as to come back in the very same spot next time.
Of course, you can enter the coordinates in Google Earth and see exactly where you were located. Not to mention the utility of the compass out in the wild, in a survival situation.
And if you have communication established with a rescue team, you just tell them your GPS coordinates and they'll come right where you are - no time wasted, thus a higher chance for you to be rescued and get back home safely.
So the outdoor adventurer can use this feature to his/her advantage. Make sure you don't cover the GPS sensor with your fingers while the camera triangulates. More on how to turn on your GPS and how to view position information here and here.
I'll be using the cam a lot in the following weeks and I'll update this review article with shots and videos but in the meantime here are my first video tests:
Depth of Field Video Shots with Sony CyberShot DSC HX9V on DIY Camera Slider
Zoom and Time Lapse Test with Sony HX9V
Update: I took some night shots using long exposure in the manual mode. Also did some bursts (10 shots per second) at a tennis event. This is not the original resolution - I made the pictures smaller as for the page to load faster. Also shot a promo video for Mammut.ch (they sponsored me with a climbing rope). Took some shallow DOF still shots as well.
Things you won't like about the Sony HX9V
- Lack of manual focus in video mode. In order to get those DOF shots in video mode, more precisely when you want to switch from blurred background to sharp background or vice versa, you have to move the camera as to unframe the subject. This grants autofocus on the next subject, thus blurring the previously fully framed subject. DSLRs allow you to play with DOF without actually moving the camera. With this cam you can take two shots: one when the subject is in focus and another one when the background is in focus. Then you merge those as two consecutive scenes. A more elegant way to play with DOF is to use a camera slider (at least the movement of your camera follows a straight line).
- Not being able to do still photography time lapse. I browsed the menu but I wasn't able to find a mode where you can set the camera to take a still shot at every "x" seconds or minutes. This would have been great since the 16 mega pixels sensor can capture stills in low light better than in video mode (you get some image noise in low light with video).
- You can only get 60 fps (or 50 fps) footage in AVCHD video which delivers footage in .MTS format. If your media player won't play these files, download and install the newest VLC player to view your clips. I initially viewed the files in the editor I use to make my YouTube videos: Magix Movie Edit Pro 17 Plus.
- You can change video format from MTS to MP4 in Menu/Settings (the suitcase symbol).
- If you shoot video in interlaced mode (1080p 50i for instance), you may see some flickering lines in the footage wile viewing it in VLC player. This won't happen in progressive mode (1080p 50p). You don't have to worry too much though coz most video editing software handle this pretty well and you won't get the flicker after exporting your video. I recommend you export it to AVI file for maximum quality and then compress it to MP4 for fast online upload - see here my video editing workflow and tips.
- You can do night shots with long time exposure in manual mode (M on the main dial wheel). Press the button in the middle of the circle dial (next to LCD display) to set ISO, exposure time and aperture value. As the figure for each of those settings is shown in larger view, turn the dial to increase or decrease the value. Maximum exposure time is 30 seconds.
- If you want to get the best video colors during the golden hour (late afternoon until sunset or at sunrise), set the camera on fireworks mode. As strange as this may sound, the fireworks mode delivers realistic beautiful colors for daytime video.
- When doing long exposure shots (night/twilight pictures) use the self timer function. For instance, you may want a shot that lasts 30 seconds as to capture the lights of cars on a street - set the self timer to 2 seconds so when you press the shutter button it will take another 2 seconds until the light will actually hit the sensor. By that time you've already taken your hand off the camera and you're sure the cam is still, capturing a sharp image.
In all, a great compact camera with incredible optics (Sony Lens G), made in Japan (not China), that will get you one step closer to award winning shots.
I believe the future of professional video and photo belongs to the masses with the ever evolving small cameras that encompass the power and capabilities of high end DSLRs or camcorders. This Sony is one of those cameras that make it simple for you to get professional looking results. Mix in some creative effort, some rigs for better shots (slider, DIY steadicam, cable cam, etc.) and you can actually do client work with this baby.
Keep on vlogging and go out there!
PS - I'll leave yhou with some incredible footage taken with the Sony HX9V by Jeen de Vos Producties (video found on DSLRNewsShooter.com)
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