Sony DSC-HX5V Review

 
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Sony HX5V Optics


Lens

Zoom
A 10x optical zoom range, starting at a wide 25mm equivalent, with very good performance. Good results from the 2x digital zoom.

Click to see HX5VFARWTW.JPG Click to see HX5VFARWTT.JPG Click to see HX5VFARWTDT.JPG
25mm eq. 250mm eq. 2x Digital Zoom

The Sony HX5V's lens offers a very useful 10x optical zoom range, equivalent to a 25-250mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Performance at full wide-angle is very good for such a compact long-zoom, with hardly any blurring or coma distortion in the corners. There's a small amount of chromatic aberration visible along the edges of the frame, but it's really quite low for the range offered by this compact lens. At full telephoto, sharpness is also very good across the frame, and chromatic aberration is also fairly well controlled. The camera's 2x digital zoom performs well. Sony sensibly offers up to only 2x digital magnification, so image quality is better than most cameras at 4x digital zoom, which really is too much to expect for a quality digital enlargement.

Macro
Smaller than average macro area, with strong detail. The Sony HX5V's flash throttled down well.

Click to see HX5VMAC.JPG Click to see HX5VMACFL.JPG
Standard Macro Standard Macro with Flash

The Sony HX5V's macro setting captured a fairly small minimum area measuring 1.59 x 1.19 inches (40 x 30 millimeters). Detail is very good, but with some corner softness we often see at minimum focusing distance. Still, the amount of corner softening is lower than many cameras we've tested. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The Cyber-shot HX5V's flash did a good job throttling down, but there is a shadow in the lower-left, so exposure is somewhat uneven. You may want to use external lighting for your closest macro shots.

Geometric Distortion
Much lower than average distortion at both wide-angle and telephoto.

Pincushion distortion at 25mm is <0.1%
Barrel distortion at 250mm is <0.1%

The Sony HX5V's images show very little geometric distortion. At full wide-angle, there is a bit of complex "moustache-shaped" distortion, with the center and extreme edges bowed in, but it's very low at less than 0.1%. At full telephoto, instead of the usual pincushion distortion we see a bit of barrel distortion, but it's also quite low at less than 0.1%. Because of the shape and unusually low levels, we suspect lens distortion is being corrected during processing, though there is no way to confirm that since the HX5V doesn't support saving files in RAW format. 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 and Corner Softness
Low to moderate C.A. at wide-angle and telephoto. Slight softness in some corners of the frame.

Wide: bottom left
C.A.: Slight but not very bright
Softness: Slight blurring
Wide: center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
Tele: top right
C.A.: Moderate and slightly brighter
Softness: Slightly soft
Tele: center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Fairly sharp

Chromatic Aberration. The Sony HX5V's 10x zoom lens exhibits relatively low to moderate chromatic aberration at wide-angle and telephoto, respectively. It's a little brighter at full telephoto, so it's slightly more noticeable than at wide-angle. The effect extends fairly deep into the frame, but the width and intensity of the fringes reduce as you move toward the center where it is very low. Chromatic aberration is a type of distortion visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.

Corner Softness. The Sony HX5V's lens produced reasonably sharp corners at both the wide-angle and telephoto ends, which is impressive given it's compact size and range. There was only a bit of softening in the corners compared to the center, and softness was pretty symmetrical. You can see quite a few sharpening artifacts in the form of halos, though. Still, overall results are quite good, especially considering the 25-250mm range.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor.

Click to see HX5VhVFAWL.JPG Click to see HX5VhVFATL.JPG
25mm eq., LCD 250mm eq., LCD

The Sony HX5V's LCD monitor showed essentially 100% coverage accuracy at both wide-angle and at telephoto. Nicely done.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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