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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 Optics

Lens

Zoom
Excellent 20x optical zoom range, with good performance. Digital zoom performance is a little soft at full size, but results should be good enough for smaller prints.

28mm eq. 560mm eq. 2x Digital Zoom

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's optical zoom range covers the equivalent of a 28-560mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Optical results at full wide angle are good, with only moderate blurring in the top corners and along the side edges of the frame, and a moderate level of coma distortion visible. High-contrast details appear stylized from some edge enhancement, but finer details in midtones and shadows are less distinct. Roof shingles and foliage are splotchy, looking more like a painting than a photograph, more likely due to anti-noise processing than an optical problem. At full telephoto, detail definition is much improved, with less noticeable blurring in the corners. The camera's 2x digital zoom does sacrifice resolution and detail a small amount for digital enlargement at 100%, but results should be good enough for small print sizes.

Macro
A small macro area, with strong detail in the center of the frame. The Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's flash is obscured by the lens body, but turns in a good exposure nonetheless.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's macro setting captured a small minimum area measuring 1.41 x 1.06 inches (36 x 27 millimeters). Resolution and detail are strong at the very center of the image, though details soften in the corners and around the edges of the frame. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) There's also some noticeable chromatic aberration on the printed details of the dollar bill, and the exposure is quite bright along the left side. The Sony Cyber-shot HX1's flash was obscured by the lens, so the exposure turned out well, better than expected at such close range, save for the upper left corner, which is blown out.

Geometric Distortion
Low distortion at both zoom settings.

Barrel distortion at 28mm is 0.1%
Barrel distortion at 560mm is less than 0.1%

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's 0.1% barrel distortion at wide-angle is much lower than average compared to the most consumer digital cameras, and really isn't that noticeable. At the telephoto end, the Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's less than 0.1% barrel distortion is extremely low and imperceptible. (Really only about one pixel, or 0.03%.) Distortion is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic Aberration
Fairly low color distortion at wide-angle in terms of pixel count, though pixels are bright. Stronger distortion at telephoto.

Wide: Low but bright,
top left @ 100%
Wide: Slightly brighter blue pixels,
top right @ 100%
Tele: Stronger distortion,
top left @100%
Tele: High and bright,
top right @100%

Chromatic aberration is low at wide-angle, showing about 3-4 pixels of coloration, depending on which side of the target line you're looking at (much lower red pixel count than blue). The red pixels are bright, though not terribly distracting in the full size image. At telephoto, distortion is much more noticeable, with more bright blue pixels that are distinct in the full-scale image. Chromatic aberration is a form of distortion visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Sharpness
Only moderate blurring in the corners of the frame at both zoom settings, which doesn't extend very far into the frame.

Wide: Only slightly soft in the
corners (upper left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Slight softening in the
corners (upper left).
Tele: Sharper at center,
though still a hint of softness here.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 produced only slightly soft corners of the frame at full wide-angle, though blurring doesn't extend far into the frame. At full telephoto, softening in the corners was slightly stronger, though the center of the frame also showed very slight blurring. A very good performance overall.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor and electronic optical viewfinder (EVF).

28mm eq., LCD 16x telephoto, LCD
28mm eq., EVF 16x telephoto, EVF

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's electronic viewfinder (EVF) showed about 103% coverage accuracy at wide angle and telephoto lens settings, while the LCD monitor showed about 100% frame accuracy at both zoom settings. Excellent results! (Note that the DSC-HX1's 20x zoom is too long for our studio, so we measured frame accuracy at about 16x, which was frankly a little difficult to gauge accuracy with in the lab, and results would be difficult to repeat exactly. However, given the DSC-HX1's good performance at wide angle, there's reason to believe that full telephoto results would also be fairly accurate.)