Sony HX50V

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Sony DSC-HX50V

Like the previous model (HX20V), the Sony DSC-HX50V includes some pretty sophisticated features, such as high resolution Panorama, Anti-blur, Hand-Held Twilight mode, GPS and HD video. It also has a slightly larger 20 megapixel sensor and 30x optical zoom. If you already own a Sony HX20v I wouldn't rush out and buy the HX50V, unless you want to remotely transfer image files to your iPhone and iPad via wifi. A special menu function on the HX50V (Send to Computer) allows you to make these file transfers, since the iPhone and iPad have no SD card slot or USB port. This camera also has a convenient EV (Exposure Value) ring at the top for increasing or reducing exposure, and a flash shoe that will accommodate a more powerful external electronic flash. Considering that this little camera is loaded with Sony high-tech features and only costs about $300 new, it is a great value.

Two Images Taken With External Flash On A Dark, Overcast Day

Although it is small, this is a very powerful flash. It will light up any room in my house, even my living room with a high ceiling. You can zoom up on flowers even if you are 10-20 feet away. This is very useful when photographing butterflies and hummingbirds. The flash is high speed (up to 1/1600 of a second): See following red camellia flower. According to one review, this flash will go to 1/4000 on the Sony NEX-6 camera.


The following images illustrate its macro capabilities. Like the HX20V, under extreme close-ups with flash extended, the lens creates shadowing on lower side of picture. These problem can be eliminated by simply backing away from the subject a little. With 20 megapixels there is plenty of room for cropping. The images were taken in three modes: Program, Hand-Held Twilight, and Flash. I zoomed up to 3.9x and got as close to the penny as possible. The original images were 14.8 in X 11.1 in X 350 dpi. In order to fit on my computer screen, I reduced the images to 11.3 in X 8.5 in X 72 dpi. If you prefer pixels, then you can make the conversions. (I receive most image requests in "inches" and "dots per square inch.") For most of these images, they could use some enhancement with Photoshop. As you can see, the camera does not get close enough for a full frame penny; however, there is plenty of cropping room to make it full frame (see below).

Program Mode

Iso 100, F-5.6 Focal Length 17.0 mm. This mode should be adequate for most close-up shots, providing there is sufficient light.

Hand-Held Twilight Mode

Iso 100, F-5.6 Focal Length 17.0 mm. This mode should work well under low light conditions, especially if the flash makes excessive reflections and hot spots. For example, photographing a subject through glass.

Program Mode Using Built-In Flash

Iso 100, F-5.6 Focal Length 14.9 mm. This mode should work well in the shade, but you may need to change flash angle or back off a little. In close-up shots with flash it is best turn the EV ring to -2, otherwise the picture will be overexposed.

Program Mode: Image Cropped & Enhanced A Little With Photoshop

Most images out of a camera should ideally be enhanced with Photoshop using a properly adjusted computer screen. With 20 megapixels, you can back off a little with this camera and then crop the image to obtain a decent macro image with good depth of field.


Additional Macro Images Taken In My Back Yard

The duckweed Lemna trisulca taken in Program Mode.

Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) taken in Program Mode with and without flash. The flower is approximately the size of your little finger (also known as "pinky finger" or fifth digit).

Candy Corn from Halloween on day 304 of the 3rd millennium (31 October 2001).

Flowers of two common European lawn weeds in my back yard: Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and cutleaf geranium (Geranium dissectum) compared in size with a U.S. Penny (19 mm in diameter). Image is cropped a little on top and bottom; however, this is roughly how close you can focus with the HX50.

An assortment of delicious beans!

Macro Image Of Ant (Zoomed To 4.2x)

A honeypot ant photographed hand held on light box using Program Mode. [4.2x is the maximum zoom for a macro image and still focus automatically.] Resolution increased to 300 percent with Genuine Fractals and cropped with Photoshop. Not as sharp as Nikon D-90 SLR, but not bad for a small 30x zoom camera!

Another Macro Image Of An Ant

Macro image of a trap-jaw ant compared in size with a U.S. penny (19 mm in diameter). Compare this image with following shot taken with Nikon SLR and high quality macro lens:


Zoom Images Taken Of My Neighbor's Owl Box In A Deodar Cedar

The maximum optical zoom on the HX50V is 30x. Ideally, you need to steady the camera against a post or some sturdy object when using 30x. With clear image zoom you can double the subject size, but it is very difficult to hold the camera steady at 60x and you definitely lose image quality and depth of field. Clear image zoom is better than precesion zoom because it actually creates new pixels. Precision zoom just crops the image to make it look like you have doubled the magnification.


Sunset Taken In Hand-Held Twilight Mode

11 July 2014 sunset from under my carrotwood trees in Twin Oaks Valley, San Diego County.

Conclusion: Like its predecessors (HX9V & HX20V), the Sony DSC-HX50V is a relatively inexpensive megazoom, pocket camera that takes very good pictures. For macro images, an SLR with a high quality macro lens is superior; however, for low-res digital images on smart phones, tablets and the Internet, this camera is excellent. In fact, with some of the Sony high-tech, trick features, such as Hand-Held Twilight in a dark forest understory, it is outstanding. And this camera can be carried in a small case on your belt. With all the features on this camera, you should be able to beat the image quality of smartphones (as of July 2014); however, it takes a considerable amount practice to understand all of numerous menu choices.

You can certainly get better quality images with an SLR camera, especially with several high quality prime lenses in your camera bag; however, considering what this relatively inexpensive little camera can do, it is truly amazing.


More Images: Brush Rabbit & Butterflies


Almost A Full Moon in September 2014: Hand Held Program Mode


Crab Spider On Rose July 2015: Hand Held Program Mode