Sony HX9V Test & Video Review - or Why You Don't Need a DSLR for Your Nature Videos

Sony HX9V

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, offers the best deal and the item qualifies for free shipping.

Also available on:
If you buy it for video (I know I did), buy an 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?
There are other features and capabilities, including the GPS tracking (records the coordinates of your shots) or 3D photo shooting but I didn't experiment with those. The GPS option takes its toll on the battery so you may wanna keep it off if that information is not very important to you.

Sony HX9V GPS Sensor

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 (they sponsored me with a climbing rope). Took some shallow DOF still shots as well.

Long Exposure Night Picture

Long Exposure Photography

Night Shot Long Exposure HX9V

Night Picture Shot with Long Exposure

Sony HX9V Long Exposure Shot

DOF Sony HX9V Blurred Background

Autumn Leaves Shallow DOF Sony HX9V

Brasov Wide Angle Sony HX9V

Fir Tree and Morning Dew - DOF Sony HX9V

And here are some sunrise pictures taken in my last cliff jumping trip for the season. These were actually shot while I was recording video (the camera allows you to take stills while video shooting just by pressing the shutter button).

Sunrise Photo - Sun Coming Out of the Sea

Seaside Sunrise - Ship at Horizon on the Sea

Sony HX9V Picture - Sunrise

Sunrise Sun Reflecting into the Sea

Things you won't like about the Sony HX9V
    Burst Photos - Tennis Player
  • 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).

Sony Cybershot HX9V


Other tips
  • 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

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  1. That's a good camera, I bought it also for video purposes mostly, also.
    Nice info you have around here.
    Keep it like that! :)

  2. Thanks Cata!

    Yup the video rocks - the manual focus would have been a great feature in video mode though. And maybe a smart remote with all functions.

    Maybe with the next model. :-)

  3. Could I ask, did you do the time lapse manually or can this be done via some video mode on the camera?

  4. You may have just sold this for me...

  5. @Admin - the time lapse video is a result of editing the raw footage. You basically set a higher playback rate. Click here for a tutorial - I wrote it for GoPro footage but the technique is the same for every kind of camera/video.

    @Brooks - :-) It's a great camera with awesome capabilities. I only promote what I test and this is no exception.

  6. Salut Constantin,
    Am o rugaminte la tine, ai putea sa faci un videoclip cu Sony HX9V in timp ce mergi pe bicicleta? As vrea sa cumpar aparatul insa nu stiu cum se comporta la filmarile in viteza, cat de bine focalizeaza, cat de clara este imaginea, etc.
    Multumesc anticipat.
    P.S.: In legatura cu camera ta Go Pro, este model Hero Full HD ?

  7. Salut, Marian! I'm gonna reply in English. :-)

    I believe the Sony shoots well while riding a bike if you roll on smooth surfaces - not off trail as you would with a mountain bike.

    But since it's not a wearable camera, I'd advise to use it only handheld, on a steadicam, on a tripod or on a slider. I don't think it can take shocks as the GoPro can.

    The lens has moving parts (unlike GoPro which has fixed focus and no zoom) and that is vulnerable. You don't wanna whiplash that.

    Yup, I have the HD version of GoPro.

    Drop me an email (contact page) so I can send you test footage on a bike with the Sony HX9V. Cheers!

  8. Hi, thanks for that review. I have two questions. 1. How did you make this Time Lapse Video with the fast sunset or cloud movment? I don't find such a feature on the HX9V. 2. What do you think about the speed of the camera? I'm sad about it, because in many sitations (e.g. Parties or other low-light-situations) it takes about 2-3 seconds to focus an object and take the foto (incl. flashlight). What are your experience? Regards Mario

  9. Hey Mario! Thanks for the questions.

    1. The time lapse was done by recording video for about 30 minutes and then I increased the playback speed in the video editor (Magix Edit Pro Plus).

    More on time lapse editing here.

    2. Yes, the camera is a little slow. That's something we just have to deal with.

  10. This Review/Vlog was so very helpful, thank you!!!!!

    1. :-) Always glads to help. Thanks for your words!

  11. Hi Constantin! This is Sheety33 from youtube. I was reading through your review (which is very well done I might add), and read " Lack of manual focus in video mode." This is true, it does lack FULL controls of manual focus in video mode, but you can manually adjust the focus while shooting video using one option I found while using the camera. Before you begin shooting, put the subject in frame in which you want to focus on, and then click the center button in the center of the spin wheel so that the "tracking focus" feature is enabled on the object you want focused on. Begin recording, and then when you are ready to switch from macro to infinite focus, simply push the center button again to disengage the "tracking focus" and the focus will shift from macro to infinite.

    TIP: This works best when the macro object is off center (meaning either to the left or right of the frame).

    Hope this helps and that your still enjoying the amazing cam! :D

    1. Hey!

      Yup I've discovered this and if you watch this video you'll see DOF shots that were taken just as you explained. :-)

      However, this drives me crazy when the subject is not static. A manual focus with a fine tune option is always better.

      A remote for focus would be excellent - like the Hollywood cams have. :-) But I'm asking too much I guess.

  12. Nice work sir , i got a question , the video in the end by Dan Chung got that background defocus effect like like focusing on leaves and flowers and background became blur , how can i do it in video ? i can do it while taking a picture but can't in video , please help , Regards

    1. Hey.

      Yes you can take DOF shots by pressing the button in the middle of the function wheel. That activates the Tracking Focus and thus your image will only focus on the subject you select, leaving the background blurred.

      If you zoom in on the subject, then you can do this more easily.

  13. i can do it in picture but i want to do it while shooting a video at 1080p mode ? can i ?

  14. thanks for you reply :) i can take pictures keeping background blur but i want to shoot a video at 1080p while focusing on a subjecting and making background blur as Dan Chang did in his video, is it possible ?

    1. Just as I said, you can achieve DOF in video mode by using the Tracking Focus - press the round button. Zooming in on the subject helps.

      It's not as precise and controllable as a DSLR lens (with follow focus) but you can get that blurred background in video mode.

      Here's a focus trick I do.

  15. Great review,
    i think the creator of the "Harbour" is not Mr. Dan Chung but Mr.Jeen de Vos Producties !

    1. Yup, you're right. I updated the text. Thanks for the feedback!

  16. great work sir
    My name is shashank and I am from India
    can you suggest me which camera is best to buy between HX-10V/B and HX-9V/B ?
    i am unable to decide between these two cameras and i would like to use the camera for daily usage and sports and wedding ceremony / parties etc.,

    please suggest me

    Thanks and Regards
    M. Shashank

    1. I haven't tested the 10V/B...

      I like the HX9V - all I do is amateurish stuff and this works well for me.

  17. Hi!
    Great review!

    I have one question for you? I have Sony HX9V. I go to road trip and I will capture approximately 3 hours of video. Now I am interesting in which video quality should I capture it!? Movie quality: AVC HD 28 (PS) or AVC HD 24 (FX) or AVC HD 17 (FH)?

    I want to edit this video but also don’t know in which quality to export the video. I would like to have good HD video quality with reasonable size of export file, because 3 hours of HD video is a lot of GB.
    p.s. sorry for my English but I am just learning it :)

    thanks a lot for your help!

    1. Thanks Mark!

      I'd shoot in MP4 1440/1080 pixels at 25 fps. I only shoot in AVCHD when I want to render in slow motion.

      When I export the video in Magix Edit Pro - I use 1280/720 @25 fps as AVI file. The I compress the video to MP4 with Leawo.


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