Five Cyber-shots debut including 50x zoom Sony HX400V, the RX10 alternative for the budget-minded


posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 12:01 AM EDT


Sony has just lanched five new Cyber-shot camera models for the CP+ tradeshow in Japan. The Sony HX400V ultrazoom is the most fully-featured, while the Sony H400 and Sony H300 pare down on features and cost. The Sony WX350 puts a big lens in a pocket camera, and the Sony W800 focuses on photographers for whom a bank balance is the big decider.

Let's start with the most interesting of the group. Did you feel a tingling in your wallet when Sony announced its RX10 large-sensor, long-zoom camera, but you just couldn't justify the cost? If so, the company's hoping you'll be willing to forgo the lustworthy sensor and lens pairing of that camera, in favor of the just-announced HX400 ultrazoom. With similarly SLR-like styling, the 20.4-megapixel Sony HX400V is aimed at photographers who're still looking for a reasonably sophisticated feature set, but who don't want the bulk and complexity of interchangeable lenses or the cost and relatively more limited zoom range of the enthusiast-friendly flagship.

The Sony HX400V swaps the RX10's large sensor and constant-aperture lens for much more zoom range, a GPS receiver, and a much more affordable pricetag.

The HX400V has much the same dimensions as the RX10, but forgoes its generously-sized 1-inch sensor in favor of a more typical 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS chip. It does, however, retain the RX10's speedy BIONZ X image processor, and manages to pack in a much more powerful -- if not so bright -- Zeiss-branded, 50x variable-aperture zoom lens. And importantly, it costs significantly less than half as much, putting it within reach of most consumer shooters.

And it's rich with features elsewhere, too. From 10 fps burst shooting and an updated, even more powerful Intelligent Active Optical SteadyShot stabilization system to Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, and PlayMemories Camera Apps support, the Sony HX400V ticks a lot of boxes. And unlike some ultrazoom cameras, it retains all the manual controls and connectivity features seasoned photographers expect, plus a handy electronic viewfinder, not just an LCD panel.

Available from March 2014, the Sony HX400V ships only in a black-bodied version for about US$500. Find out more in our Sony HX400V preview!

The Sony WX350 crams a whole lot of zoom into a tiny package.

Next up on the interest scale in our book is the Sony WX350, which packs a long-zoom lens into an ultra-compact body. Sony is calling it the world's smallest and lightest compact camera with a 20x optical zoom lens, and who are we to disagree? It might fit in a pocket, but the WX350 features the same BIONZ X image processor as the Alpha A7 and A7R full-frame mirrorless cameras, as well as the RX10 all-in-one. And lest you assume the lens can't be great with that much reach in so little space, its maker stamps its opinion on the matter with Sony G branding.

Arriving March 2014, the Sony WX350 will be available in a black or white color for around US$320. Find out a whole lot more in our Sony WX350 preview.

The Sony H400 swaps performance for lens, lens, and even more lens.

The Sony H400 is clearly designed for people with a zoom obsession that borders on the unhealthy. If 63x optical zoom isn't enough for you, well...we just can't imagine that being the case. And not only do you get more zoom, you also get a lower pricetag. But something has to give, and in this case it's sensor and processor, which together allow less than two frames per second burst shooting, and only 720p video capture. You do still get an EVF and LCD, though, which is a bonus at this price.

Available from March 2014, the Sony H400 ships only in a black-bodied version for about US$320. Learn more in our Sony H400 preview.

Shiny picture, affordable long-zoom. Who says affordable has to mean it's not pretty?

The Sony H300 comes with a pricetag barely above $200 and an attractive, SLR-like body. What it doesn't have is a viewfinder, but at the entry level there's a good chance it wouldn't be used anyway -- there's a whole generation of photographers now who've grown up shooting at arm's length, and don't really see the point of a viewfinder. (Especially not a low-res entry-level one.) It also aims for differentiation from the H400 by dropping some exposure features such as Priority-mode shooting, which isn't a huge worry if you are the leave-your-camera-in-auto kind of shooter.

Available from February 2014, the Sony H300 ships only in a black-bodied version for about US$220. Read our Sony H300 preview for a whole lot more!

The Sony W800: Costs less than a Benjamin, yet still stylish and with reasonable zoom reach.

And so, we come to the most budget-conscious camera of the lot. At the supermarket, you have to choose generics over name-brands for bargain-basement pricing, but in the camera world, you can have your affordable, name-brand cake and eat it too. The Sony W800 follows the Sony W710 from 2013 and takes aim at the teenage crowd or anyone wanting an inexpensive option to keep with you at all times for casual, on-the-go shooting. Dropping in price to just $80 (from the W710's $99), the W800 clearly has no intentions of breaking the bank, and with a 5x optical zoom will lend increased functionality over the camera on your average smartphone.

The Sony Cyber-shot W800 begins shipping in March 2014, and will come in black and white. If you're on a tight budget or just want a camera you're not afraid to leave in the car or hand to the kids, read our Sony W800 preview.

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Sony HX400V, $498: ADORAMA | AMAZON | B&H