The Cyber-shot DSC-HX90 is Sony’s latest travel compact. It offers an amazing 30x zoom range in a body that will easily slip into your pocket.This camera replaces last year’s HX60V as Sony’s high-end travelzoom compact camera.The HX90 looks and feels good too, and the inclusion of optical image stabilisation makes the zoom useful when shooting with the camera in the hand.
The HX90 has seen a radical change over previous models in Sony’s HX range. It’s quite a lot smaller than its predecessor. The HX90 is compact enough to easily fit into your pocket without filling it – which is a huge benefit for a travel camera.It weighs only 245g with the battery and memory card in place.Despite its small size, the Sony HX90 still feels comfortable to hold. The Sony HX90 has a control ring around the lens and a secondary manual dial on the rear. The lens ring is a smooth, electronic control rather than a click one, which may put off a few. Outer hardware is an area where the Sony HX90 actually loses out to its predecessor, though. There’s no hotshoe or exposure compensation dial, which pushes this model more towards the market for casual photographers. You can still control exposure using the camera’s menu system, of course, but the lack of hotshoe means you can’t attach accessories such as a more powerful flash or external mic. A basic integrated flash is included, though. The key appeal of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90 is its lens. Its 30x zoom gives you the equivalent of 24-720mm in the 35mm standard, offering scope for wide landscape shots as well as closeups of wildlife. Naturally, in some conditions you’ll need a tripod to make good use of the outer reaches of the zoom’s range, but the Sony HX90 does have 5-axis image stabilisation to ensure you don’t end up with blurry images as soon as the shutter speed slows down or the zoom extends.
The Sony HX90V has an 18.2-million-pixel, 1/2.3in, Exmor R back-illuminated sensor. This is a lot of pixels to pack in to a small area, but those who wish to make large prints will find it useful.Rather than the Sony G lens found on the HX60, a Zeiss lens is fitted to the HX90V. This all-new Vario-Sonnar 4.1-123mm T* f/3.5-6.4 lens is 30% smaller than the previous optic thanks to new aspherical elements and a floating rear optical group. With a 30x optical zoom (24-720mm equivalent focal length), the HX90V packs an extensive zoom range for a camera of this size, and allows users to cover every focal length a photographer is likely to need.The HX90V’s sensitivity range of ISO 80-3200 can be selected either manually or it can be automatically determined using the auto ISO setting.Sony has said that the Bionz X processor inside the HX90V has improved in-camera noise reduction over the HX60, which is very important as the HX90V is a JPEG-only model and cannot shoot in raw format.One of the standout features of the HX90V is the addition of a pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder with an impressive 638,400-dot resolution.The HX90V’s LCD screen has also been overhauled, with a new tilting screen fitted that flips upwards for taking self-portraits. When it is in self-portrait mode, the camera uses a 3sec timer to capture the perfect picture. Video can be captured at a maximum resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, with a maximum frame rate of 60/50p, while other resolution and frame rates are available.As you would expect from a Sony camera, there’s a comprehensive range of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and NFC. Using the Sony Play Memories app, users can connect the camera to their smartphone or tablet, share their images or even remotely access the functions of the camera through the app. Many photographers will use the HX90V while travelling, which is why it has a built-in GPS system that allows users to geotag their images so they know where they were taken.
Sony continues to place its trust in its Bionz X processor, so, unsurprisingly, the HX90V/HX90 performs just like all of Sony’s other cameras powered by this processor. The HX90V takes nearly a full second longer than the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS to turn on, and let’s not forget that both the Nikon S9900 and Panasonic TZ70 generally get under the 2 s mark! Sony’s AF isn’t the fastest around, but it is the most reliable in all conditions, which makes it one of the nicest to use.What makes it even nicer is the very short shot-to-shot time, which adds to the feeling of responsiveness.An AF-assist light is available to help out in low-light conditions. Continuous focusing is available only in the Video mode, though, which may limit the potential for action photography.If you prefer to shoot with a manual style, the Sony HX90 offers both focus peaking and magnification of the view for a closer, clearer look at your subject. Tweaking focus using the lens ring feels good too.
The HX90V is a solidly performing all-round compact camera that offers a lot, but doesn’t deliver in every single area. There have been some improvements to image quality, but it’s still not fantastic for low light shooting.One of the most appealing things about the HX90V is its impressively small size it can be easy to forget that you’ve got the power of a 30x optical zoom lens here and while the viewfinder is quite small and not something you’re going to want to use for every shot, having it at all is a bonus for a compact camera.