Sony DSC-HX1 Digital Camera

By on July 22, 2009
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The Sony DSC-HX1 is a fine “Prosumer” camera that features a 9.1 Mega pixel CMOS Sensor and an incredible 20X Optical Zoom. There are other, cheaper cameras available with a higher mega pixel count, but really, people need to learn that more MPs doesn’t really translate into a better camera. If you need something more [...]

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The Sony DSC-HX1 is a fine “Prosumer” camera that features a 9.1 Mega pixel CMOS Sensor and an incredible 20X Optical Zoom. There are other, cheaper cameras available with a higher mega pixel count, but really, people need to learn that more MPs doesn’t really translate into a better camera. If you need something more than 10MP, I suggest you look at an SLR.


Coming back to the HX1, it comes packaged in a nice squarish box with an Arabic and an English Quickstart manual as well as a battery charger and a cable that allows you to connect the camera to a computer via USB or TV with composite input. An adapter for HDMI output is also included which is probably the better way to display your pictures on your big screen. Also included is a CD with applications for both Windows and Mac along with a soft copy of a more comprehensive manual.


The body of HX1 is a bit smaller than the Canon Powershot SX1 that I recently purchased. I’ve been a long time user of the Nikon D40X which has a bigger body that both these cameras, however, I prefer the Sony over the Canon in size as anything bigger makes me want to rotate the lens to zoom in and out which is not the case with these Prosumer cameras. Looking at the camera from the back, you have almost all the controls on the right side and instead of explaining every single one of them, I’d rather just show you a picture. Almost all the controls are self-explanatory for anyone that has used a Digital Camera.


The back side has a 3.0″ LCD screen which can be moved along the vertical axis but is not as flexible as the Canon SX1 which moves horizontally as well. On the left side, you have a button to switch between the screen and the electronic view-finder which isn’t really that good- neither is the one on the SX1. Of all the electronics view finders I’ve used, the Panasonic G1 proved to be the best. The left side of the HX1 also has all the connectors while the bottom houses the battery and the Memory Stick Duo card. Last, but certainly not the least, the flash and stereo mics reside on the top of the unit.


The HX1 takes about two seconds to power up which feels a tad bit longer than the Canon SX1 which is under 2 seconds. However, focusing seems much faster on the HX1 than the Canon. Where the SX1 would take a second or slightly more, the Sony focused under a second which felt almost as fast as my Nikon D40X. Focusing speed wasn’t effected much under a darker environment either.

Picture quality and zoom on the HX1 is on par with the SX1, however, due to the faster focusing on the HX1, I was able to get a better rate of focused shots with the Sony than with the Canon. This was when both the cameras were set to Auto mode. The burst feature of the HX1 allows you to take ten shots in a second which is great for capturing an image in sports. Here is a shot of five of these together taken at night. Keep in mind that this is Sheikh Zayed Road with cars traveling at about 120km/h.


There are quite a few pre-set scenes on the HX1 such as Twilight, Snow, Beach, Fireworks etc., along with an iA Intelligent Auto) and manual modes. I’m not much of a photography buff and other than ISO settings, I barely play around but the HX1 does allows you to adjust the FSTOP and exposure settings giving the professional a fair amount of tweaking. I took a few different shots at different ISO levels and until 800, the camera is passable but anything above and beyond that produced quite a bit of a grain- something that is similar to my Canon SX1. The following two pictures are at ISO800 on the left and 1600 on the right.

hx1640_iso800 hx1640_iso1600

The Zoom on both these cameras is pretty amazing at 20X and instead of talking about it, let me show you a couple of pictures I took. What you see in the picture below is that squarish building called “The Gate” at DIFC or, Dubai International Financial Center. What you dont see is a ticker below the building that is visible but not readable from the naked eye from where I’m standing.


Next, I used the 20X zoom to its maximum and took this picture.


As you can see, it is impressive to say the least. Moving along, the battery life on the HX1 is pretty decent. Sony claims it at about 200 minutes although I didn’t get a chance to completely test that. It takes quite a bit of time to charge as well- almost 200 minutes so make sure you st it for charging the night before you decide to travel. I like the SX1 in this aspect as it uses standard AA batteries. While this does not produce as long of a battery life as the Sony, you can very easily buy these standard batteries anywhere in the world allowing you to travel a bit lighter.

Another “standard” that I would like Sony to adopt is to build a mini-USB connector on the body of their cameras. Memory sticks aren’t as popular as SD cards so finding a way to get your pictures from the Camera to your PC should not relay on a proprietary connection.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the HX1. Its quite speedy as far as auto-focusing is concerned which is where you need the speed. Ease of use is also something Sony should be complimented for- while I’m still struggling to find some settings on the Canon SX1, everything is just so easily reacha
ble on the HX1. The picture quality, as you can see from the shots above, is pretty good but doesn’t beat an SLR- even an entry level one like my Nikon D40X but that’s not the market that Sony is targeting with the HX1.

Priced at AED 1999 and available easily, the HX1 is a pretty good buy considering I paid AED 3500 for the Canon SX1. Its a great camera for someone who wants to move beyond the Pocketable point and shoot but does not want to invest in an SLR.



Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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