Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V

With a stack of great features that work as advertised, including a 16x optical zoom lens, the HX9V makes an ideal travel companion for those who enjoy life on the road.


8.3
CNET Rating
6.5
User Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

Sony's previous attempts at travel zoom cameras have been decent, serviceable affairs with plenty of features to keep up with the class-leading models like Panasonic's TZ20. With the HX9V, things are set to change.

This camera feels amazingly sturdy. Not so much "drop it from a great height and watch it come out magically unscathed" sturdy, but solid nonetheless. It feels really good to use, with a textured side grip and thumb rest too at the rear. Along the top edge of the camera, with a mode dial, shutter button and stereo microphone, a pop-up flash unit sits flush with the surface, only opening when needed.

Much needs to be said about the gorgeous 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD screen at the back, which makes images look fantastic. Flanked by a small array of control buttons, it is miles better than the screens found on its competitors. There's also a one-touch record button just underneath the mode dial to complete the physical button arrangement. Amidst the staggering array of shooting options, you get standard automatic, superior automatic (which takes several shots and merges them together for optimum results), program, manual, iSweep Panorama and 3D shooting for stills, panorama or multi-angle photos. Scene modes and a dedicated background defocus mode are also present as well.

HX9V

An example of an image taken with the background defocus mode. (Credit: CBSi)

The Sony G lens (not Carl Zeiss, unfortunately) extends to 16x optical zoom with a maximum aperture range of f/3.3-5.9. It also opens to 24mm wide-angle for landscape and group shots. Full HD video recording is on-board at 1080p in AVCHD format.

Connectivity is via mini-HDMI or a proprietary mini-USB port at the base of the camera. The HX9V has a dual-MemoryStick/SD card slot, which is alongside the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery at the base.

GPS tagging

What makes the HX9V a travel camera rather than just a standard superzoom compact is its built-in GPS and compass. To initialise the GPS it's necessary to stand in an open area, outside of course, so the camera can obtain a signal. Our first attempt was thwarted by some errant trees in a suburban area. The next attempt was more successful in a wide open park, where the GPS took approximately two minutes to lock on to a signal. Unlike other cameras such as the TZ20, the HX9V doesn't continue to update the GPS when the unit is switched off. Each time the camera starts up, the HX9V obtains a new GPS coordinate (fortunately, it doesn't take two minutes each time).

HX9V GPS

Viewing tagged GPS information using the included camera software. (Credit: CBSi)

Once images have been tagged with their GPS location data in-camera, viewing them on a computer and plotting the location is easy. Sony provides software in the box with the HX9V, though it's fairly basic. Unlike the TZ20, the HX9V doesn't have a built-in database of location names to match against GPS coordinates.

Compared to

TZ20
Sony Cyber-shot HX9V Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Canon PowerShot SX230
16.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS 14.1-megapixel MOS 12.1-megapixel CMOS
3-inch LCD (921,000-dot) 3-inch touchscreen (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot)
16x optical zoom 16x optical zoom 14x optical zoom
24mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle
GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging
HD video (1080p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080p)

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Sony Cyber-shot HX9V2.61.60.4
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ202.10.90.2

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Sony Cyber-shot HX9V10
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ2010

The HX9V can take up to 10 full resolution frames in a row and will then stop to process them. Sony rates the battery for 300 shots.

Image quality

On automatic settings, the HX9V produces bright, punchy and very nice-looking JPEG images. Thanks to the Exmor R sensor, it is also very good at low-light images, producing a crisp shot in most circumstances.

Like most of the 16-megapixel crop of cameras we've seen so far this year, it does over-process images slightly when observed at full magnification, but definitely not as badly as some of its competitors. In bright, contrasty situations, the automatic modes can blow out highlights to some degree.

The HX9V excels particularly with its built-in flash, which works beautifully when illuminating people in the foreground and maintaining a lit, but not overbearing, background. It produces natural-looking skin tones as well. Autofocus is quick and effective, while white balance is mostly accurate in automatic mode, with a tendency to produce slightly warm results (though not at all unpleasant) when shooting in low-light.

HX9V zoom

A visual demonstration of the 16x optical zoom. The top image is taken at the wide end, the bottom at the telephoto reach, with 100 per cent crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)

As for lens sharpness, the HX9V produces the best results at the centre of the frame, with some sharpness dropping off towards either side. The wide end (24mm) also produces a noticeable amount of distortion. Chromatic aberration, or fringing around high-contrast areas, can be noticed at full magnification, but does not affect image quality too much. At the telephoto end, images become very "crunchy"-looking as the sensor struggles to resolve the detail from the lens, and turns up the ISO to compensate for handshake.

Video quality is one of the real strengths of the HX9V, with a very clean image and clear sound thanks to the stereo microphones. You can use the full extent of the optical zoom when filming.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/80, f/3.5, ISO 400

Exposure: 1/40, f/3.3, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/250, f/4.5, ISO 160

Exposure: 1/60, f/3.3, ISO 100

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

With a stack of great features that work as advertised, including a 16x optical zoom lens, the HX9V makes an ideal travel companion for those who enjoy life on the road.

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Post comment as
 

SandraC posted a comment   

Got the flash working again by setting to flash and gently pulling out with my fingernail, and restarting again.
How can sony sell a camera without testing it for a while, when so many peiople report this after a few weeks.?

 

anele7 posted a comment   
Russia

Hi Alexandra,

I wanted to buy this camera before I heard about problems with its pop-flash.What do you think, is Sony HX 9V worth buying or the flash is going to break down soon? Or it's better to buy Canon Powershot S100 instead?Please answer me asap.
Thanks
Elena

evil_emma
10
Rating
 

"Awesome camera - love it love it love it!"

evil_emma posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Zoom, Battery Life and Overall Shot Quality

The Bad:Position of Flash

I have always bought Sony Cameras and boy am I impressed with this one!
Battery Life: Fantastic
Overall shot quality - Great for my needs - I'm no professional though.
Yes the pop up flash is annoying but I'm used to it now.
Zoom is awesome!! I've got some great shots from some of the concerts I went to!
Videoing looks really good on my 32inch tv (I know whimpy sized!)
My real test will be when I take it to America.
Until then tata!!

woppk2
1
Rating
 

"SONY - Your after sales service stinks"

woppk2 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:When it worked it took good photos

The Bad:Stopped working and Sony couldn't fix it.

Bought the SONY HX9V a few months ago. Around 5 weeks ago the flash stopped working. Sent off to SONY repairer for repair - I'm now told it can't be fixed and there are no replacement cameras in stock - SONY therefore will refund my money. I'm still waiting for my money SONY - so I still have no camera SONY.
In short - this is the last SONY product I'll buy.
If you can do with a camera that's here today gone tomorrow then buy a SONY - otherwise I'd go for a more substantial brand.

divrick
1
Rating
 

"bad product design and zero support accompanied by the usual bullshit."

divrick posted a review   
Australia

The Good:great when everything works

The Bad:the flash is in the wrong spot

We bought this camera Sept 2011 in Switzerland. Great photos, great video etc. this was the best buy we ever made, until the flash stopped working in January 2012. Now I contacted sony to see if they could help but they wont. IT'S A BRAND NEW MODEL. Very disappointed with the bad design of the flash popping up where people hold the camera and zero support from Sony.

Don't buy this camera.

 

blikemike posted a comment   
Australia

Overall a very poor camera. Yes, HD video is awesome. Slow start up. Just wont take photos at times, you keep hitting the button but nothing happens...it's probably to smart for it's own good. The worst part of the camera...the flash location. If you are used to holding your camera with two hands, thumbs on the back with both index fingers balanced on top of the camera this model is a nightmare. The flash pops out of the top left hand corner of the camera...you guessed it right where your left finger rests. What happens over time is that the electric motor which lifts the flash out the camera is constantly fighting against the force of your finger, and guess what, on my camera it's now broken. Might as well throw it away as the flash is no useless. Don't bother with this model, a very poor effort by Sony.

 

Rojocano posted a comment   

Hi guys,

The HX9V seems to have (almost) everything one could want in a camera. I read that is fairly quick in starting up and in terms of shot to shot. BUT ... I also read on some sites that once you have pressed the start up button it is v...e...r...y slow to start up and it can take up to 7 seconds (!!!) for the display to start up despite the camera as such being read to be used? I am wondering how can you take a picture without being able to see things on the display? How true is this anyway? What's the reality with the start up times of the HX9V? I am asking because start up and shot to shot speed is very important to me. As an alternative I was looking at the Nikon S8200 that seems very fast but also seems to have its own quirks. What do you guys reckon'?

 

rojonoca posted a comment   
Australia

Hi guys,

The HX9V seems like a great camera. Seems it got (almost) everything one could hope for. BUT ... I read on various sites that it can take up to 7 seconds for the display to activate once the start up button is pressed and that it is ve...ry slow to start up in general. I mean even if the camera is ready to take a picture in a second what does it help if the display takes 7 seconds to activate. How am I meant to see what will be in the picture? What's the reality there? I'm asking because start up and shot to shot speed is very important to me.

Thanks
Rob

 

gdknightsfan posted a comment   
Australia

hi alexandra,

im looking to buy a new camera. im looking for a camera with a super zoom, fast shutter speed and good quality images. im torn between the DSC-HX9V and the nikon S9100. which would you recommend? or what other cameras would you recommend if not these two??

thanks,
joseph.

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Joseph, unfortunately I haven't yet reviewed the S9100 so I can't compare those two directly for you on anything apart from top-line specifications. I think you will find the HX9V does everything you would want it to and comes with a few features that the S9100 doesn't have like a GPS receiver and 10 frames per second continuous shooting mode.

 

dr dave posted a reply   
Australia

Dear Lexy,
I am interested in your opinion please. I want a travel camera with a great zoom for general use. Would use it in auto mode mostly so don't need to be able to adjust much
I am thinking of Nikon S9300 or Lumix TZ30 or Sony HX20V or Canon powershot SX260
Which would you buy and why?
Many thanks
David A

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

Hi David,

Am posting the review of the HX20V momentarily which gives you a bit of a comparison between features and performance. I'd say the Sony has the best video but the Panasonic and Canon have the best image quality. The Sony is also quite a bit more pricey, but check out the review and see what you think.

 

Napmatty posted a comment   
Australia

Hi Alexandra,

I have been looking for a good all round digital camera with large zoom and I am stuck between choosing the Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V. They both are very simular, but looking at both your reviews it would appear the Sony has much better video, but the Fuji has better photo capture capability with more user control. Would that be a fair assessment? Can you tell me which one would be better for indoor and low light pictures? Any help in making a decision would be appreciated.

Thanks

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Napmatty,

Given the sensor on the HX9V and from the samples shown here on the review, it does perform better in low light than the Fuji does. Also as you noted it has much better HD video too. I'd also suggest trying both cameras out side by side in a camera store if possible to work out if you like the feel of one more than the other - for example, button placement and menu structures differ quite a lot between brands.


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V

  • SandraC

    SandraC

    "Got the flash working again by setting to flash and gently pulling out with my fingernail, and restarting again.
    How can sony sell a camera without testing it for a while, when so many peiopl..."

  • anele7

    anele7

    "Hi Alexandra,

    I wanted to buy this camera before I heard about problems with its pop-flash.What do you think, is Sony HX 9V worth buying or the flash is going to break down soon? Or i..."

  • evil_emma

    evil_emma

    Rating10

    "I have always bought Sony Cameras and boy am I impressed with this one!
    Battery Life: Fantastic
    Overall shot quality - Great for my needs - I'm no professional though.
    Yes the pop..."

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