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The Sony HX30V is available in black only, at an MSRP of $419.99, though its street price is currently around $50 less than that.

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Box Photo

Hey thanks for sending all the accessories Sony.

The Sony HX30V comes with the camera body and the following accessories:

• battery (NP-BG1)

• wrist strap

• instruction manual

• micro-USB cable

• AC adapter ACUB10

The 20x optical zoom lens on the HX30V is coupled with a standard 18.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor from Sony. The zoom rating is impressive, almost matching the HX10V for wide angle (4.45mm vs. 4.26mm) while extending all the way to 89mm. When you take into account the camera's smaller image sensor, that is the equivalent of a 27.5mm-550mm focal length on a full-size 35mm camera. It's not the best that we've seen, but it's very good for such a small camera and among the best in the travel zoom class.

The image sensor in the HX30V is an 18.2-megapixel Exmor R unit, at the usual point-and-shoot size of 1/2.3'' across. The sensor is backside-illuminated, which allows for the camera to gather more light per pixel while still keeping resolution impressively high.

The HX30V uses a 3-inch "Xtra Fine" LCD with TrueBlack display. It has a resolution of 921k dots, which is standard for this part of the market. The screen is your main interface with the camera, while also acting as your viewfinder. The screen, like most LCDs, can get washed out in the daylight, though the camera comes with five levels of brightness control to try and combat this.

The HX30V comes with a built-in flash unit with a guide number of approximately 7.1 meters, with various modes of control. The camera lets you use the flash automatically, as a fill-flash, in a slow synchro mode, or off entirely. The flash is positioned in the top plate of the camera, popping up whenever it has been activated.

Flash Photo

The motorized flash arm pops up when in use and retracts when not. Careful, it can pinch you on the way down.

The Sony HX30V includes both a mini-HDMI port and a micro-USB port. The construction of the camera's components must have required some interesting Twister-esque positioning, because the ports are in completely different spots. The HDMI port is located behind a plastic flap on the right side of the body, while the micro-USB slot is positioned in the bottom. The USB port allows you to transfer files off, but also to charge the battery.

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The Sony HX30V uses a standard Lithium-ion battery, model number NP-BG1. It's a Sony-made unit and is a design that has been used for several generations of Sony cameras (meaning you may have a few around the house if you've owned previous Sony cameras). The battery is removable and rechargeable, with the battery gathering juice via the USB cable. You can charge it either by direct connection with a computer or via wall outlet with the included AC adapter.

Battery Photo

The battery is rated to 320 consecutive shots.

The Sony HX30V offers expandable storage with a memory card slot on the bottom of the camera. Housed in the battery compartment, the card slot is compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. It's also compatible with the full range of Sony Memory Stick Pro-Duo cards, because what would a Sony camera be without proprietary memory? If you need a card with the HX30V stick with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.

Media Photo

SD cards or Memory Sticks are inserted beside the battery slot.

The HX30V does well in many of our tests with its "Real" color mode, a setting that—unlike most Sony compact cameras we've tested—offers very accurate colors and little or no sharpness enhancement to images. Noise reduction is still abundant as always, but we found the change refreshing. The HX30V can still pump up the saturation with the best of them, but the camera at least affords you the option for realistic, accurate images when you want them. It's not the best option in low light, however, as the higher ISO speeds are marred by the usual method of mushy software noise reduction.

We found that the HX30V offered only fair sharpness through its zoom range, as its lens is designed more towards offering an expansive zoom range than edge-to-edge sharpness. In our labs we found that the camera produced sharper images toward the center, with sharpness falling off considerably toward the edges. Sharpness also fell off dramatically as you zoom in on your subject, as the maximum aperture is forced to close down from f/3.2 to f/5.8.

One thing working against the HX30V in our test was the lack of sharpness enhancement by default. While we frown on cameras oversharpening their images, a little bit actually enhances image quality. In this case, the HX30V could do with a small dose of sharpening, either in a post-processing program like Photoshop, or in the camera using the sharpness controls. More on how we test sharpness.

The Sony HX30V did excellently on our color accuracy test, producing a 24-patch ColorChecker chart with an average color error of just 1.87 in the "real" mode. That's a phenomenal result, and it's largely because Sony has tuned the camera to produce images with accurate saturation, instead of favoring the vibrant (often inaccurate) colors that their other cameras tend to produce. More on how we test color.

The HX30V's other color modes did fairly well at color accuracy, though they pushed color saturation considerably. The standard color mode wound up with an average color error of 2.88 due to a saturation percentage of roughly 119% of the ideal. The vivid mode, as you'd expect, pushed saturation even further to 128%, with color error jumping to 3.89.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

The HX30V has simply phenomenal color accuracy when using the real color mode. Where most Sony cameras tend to sacrifice accuracy in order to push saturation to undue levels, the HX30V stays on the mark. While color accuracy isn't the ultimate measure of photographic quality (accurate colors tend to look flatter than oversaturated ones), it's a very important tool when you need it. Accurate colors tend to produce better looking skin tones, and you can always push saturation and contrast later if you like.

The color modes on the HX30V are accessible right in the on-screen menu, which is brought up by pressing the menu key while shooting. From there you can select standard, vivid, real, monochrome, or sepia color modes. We did not test monochrome or sepia for color accuracy for reasons that should be quite obvious.

The Sony HX30V produced excellent white balance results as well, with accurate shots recorded using both the automatic and custom white balance sections. The only area it struggled was in tungsten lighting with the auto white balance, and even then to a lesser degree than even high-end DSLRs.

Automatic White Balance ()

The automatic white balance on the HX30V was able to accurately diagnose the lighting temperature under lab conditions mimicking both daylight and compact white fluorescent lighting. The HX30V's shots produced a color error of less than 75 kelvins in daylight and around 200 kelvins under fluorescent lighting. Both are excellent results as 200 kelvins and under is barely perceptible in the final image.

Tungsten lighting was another story, as the HX30V was off by more than 1700 kelvins when shooting with the automatic white balance. This is normal, as more automatic white balance systems don't have the range to cover the warm light produced by incandescent bulbs like those found in most homes. Still, most cameras are off by more than 2000 kelvins under these conditions, so the HX30V still does well.

Custom White Balance ()

When taking the time to take a custom white balance reading, the HX30V does much better with tungsten lighting. With a custom white balance to work with, the color temperature error fell to 131 kelvins on average. Under fluorescents the error was 161 kelvins on average, while daylight error rose slightly to around 100 kelvins. All three results are excellent and fall within acceptable limits.

The HX30V performed well in the white balance tests. It compares well to most of its competition, with an auto white balance that outdoes even many high-end DSLRs. Almost all cameras struggle under tungsten lighting, which is an Achilles heel that the HX30V shares.

You can set the HX30V's white balance settings by going into the menu while shooting. From there you can select either the automatic or custom white balance modes discussed. You can also opt for a number of presets, which offer narrower color temperature ranges, better dealing with specific lighting types. The HX30V has options for incandescent (tungsten), flash, three kind of fluorescent lighting, cloudy, and daylight scenes. In this menu you can also capture a white balance setting, or choose to shift the auto white balance in a specific direction.

The Sony HX30V includes an ISO range of 100-3200, with options for multi-shot noise reduction unlocking ISO settings of 6400 and 12800. The camera also offers noise reduction, but it can not be turned off and seems to kick in right at the early ISO settings.

We found that noise levels at ISO 100 were normal at around 0.83%, rising to 0.88% and 1.1% at ISO 200 and 400. At ISO 800 noise rose to just 1.15% before jumping to 1.73% at ISO 1600. At the maximum native ISO noise was kept to just 1.97%. At ISO 3200 and 6400 multi-shot noise reduction kicked in, resulting in noise percentages of 0.88% and 0.93%, respectively. More on how we test noise.

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The Sony HX30V offers an ISO range that extends from 100-3200, with an automatic ISO selection that kicks in when using most of the fully automatic modes. You can select your ISO in manual or program auto mode by hitting the menu key and scrolling down the on-screen menu. ISO 6400 and 12800 can also be used, but they are multi-shot noise reduction modes, taking multiple photos and merging them to keep noise down.

In our lab tests we found that the Sony HX30V struggled to produce much dynamic range through the ISO range. Our dynamic range test is designed to show through how many brightness levels (called stops) a camera can produce images with a high level of detail and a low level of noise.

The HX30V was able to capture around 5 stops of "high" dynamic range at ISO 100, though that number jumps to 5.44 stops at ISO 200. This is just a trick of the numbers, as the camera's noise reduction system manages to squeeze an extra third of a stop in under the bar. The dynamic range falls off dramatically from there, dropping to just over 3 stops at ISO 1600 and 3200.

All in all, the HX30V performs about as well as we'd expect from a consumer-oriented point-and-shoot with a small sensor. Image sensors this small are great for long zoom ranged, but struggle in capturing light and keeping noise down naturally. It's just one of the trade-offs of going with a 20x optical zoom in a camera this small. More on how we test dynamic range.

We found little chromatic aberration in most of our test shots, as it seemed to mostly be controlled by the camera. There is ample evidence that it is there, though, with heavy diffraction and a strong purplish hue in the corners of many of our test shots. In this case the purplish border shows up mostly in areas of contrast in the middle and telephoto ends of the zoom range. It's not overly distracting, but it could seriously impair certain high-contrast shots from time to time.

There's always going to be sacrifices when you're designing a compact 20x optical zoom range lens. The most usual error is going to be distortion, though we found little evidence of that with the HX30V. The camera produced less than 0.25% barrel distortion at the wide angle end, with that becoming a practically nonexistant pincushion distortion as you zoom in through the rest of the focal range. This is likely the result of software adjustments, but there's even very little distortion when framing shots on the rear LCD. The HX30V may be employing tricks to cover up for lens errors there, but with no visible signs of image quality degradation, we're okay with it here.

The Sony HX30V is one of the first compact cameras to be AVCHD 2.0 compatible, allowing it to shoot up to 1080/60p. In our bright light motion test the camera didn't disappoint, producing smooth motion with very little ghosting, trailing, or artifacting. It was an impressive display that looked as good as anything we've seen on point and shoots recently. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

The HX30V produced some of the smoothest motion we've seen from a point-and-shoot, easily keeping pace with its competition. The only camera we've seen that's as good recently was the Sony RX100, but that camera features a much larger sensor and costs nearly twice as much.

Bright light sharpness results were quite remarkable, with the HX30V producing around 750 lw/ph of sharpness horizontally and vertically. That's equivalent to what we've seen from entry-level DSLRs like the Canon Rebel T4i. That's discounting the Rebel's obvious benefit in depth of field, but it's impressive nonetheless. Also of note is the general lack of moire, which is an ugly discoloration in really fine patterns that cameras often produce. It's still there, but it's heavily suppressed, moreso than we've seen on many cameras. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

Low light sharpness was another story, however. Where we saw over 700 lw/ph sharpness in bright light, the increased ISO and compression changes caused that to fall to just over 400 lw/ph. It climbed up to around 425 lw/ph sometimes, but it only rarely rose above that.

Keeping with the "low light is trouble" theme, the HX30V required about 27 lux of light to produce an image that registered 50 IRE on a wave form monitor (50 IRE is a broadcast standard for a usable image). That's not a phenomenal performance, and it's only slightly better than what we've seen with cheaper compacts like the Canon ELPH 110 HS.

The HX30V is a compact camera with some nice touches, including a physical mode dial, a small grip protrusion, and a customizable button on the back. With customization options and a manual control option, you might think the HX30V is designed for high-end camera users. The truth is that the camera is best used by people who just want a nice collection of automatic, scene, and creative shooting modes and that long 20x zoom lens. The camera is simple to operate and offers some fun modes to play around with, but the lack of control and simplified menu are going to be frustrating for advanced users.

The HX30V features mostly automatic modes, including two dedicated full auto modes—intelligent auto+ and superior auto. Both of these modes take over most of the heavy lifting for you, allowing you to merely point and shoot the camera at what you want to take a picture of. Superior auto takes it a step further, adding in things like automatic scene recognition and image enhancement to produce what the camera thinks will be better photos. If you're a basic shooter who just wants snapshots, these modes are great and simple to use.

The HX30V's buttons are exclusively made of plastic, but they don't have the chintzy feel that you might expect. They're not incredibly comfortable, but they each offer a solid, audible click when activated. The one exception is the "custom" button, which is wedged between the top plate of the camera and the rear plate. It doesn't stand out much from the body, making it difficult to press sometimes. The shutter button doesn't have this problem luckily, as it stands out well above the top plate of the camera, surrounded by the zoom toggle.

The HX30V includes a number of digital effects, lumped into either "color modes" or "picture effects" settings in the menu.

The HX30V is designed to be an easy to operate camera with a long zoom range. To that end it offers several menu types that cordon off more advanced options, keeping the user from feeling overwhelmed with complex options. Pressing the menu key by default brings up a list of symbols on-screen that offer access to a number of shooting settings. Depending on what mode you're in, this list may include advanced options like ISO and white balance, or may be limited to just creative settings.

If that's not enough, you can click on the toolbox symbol in this menu to be brought to the full in-camera menu. This is laid out like is is on many other cameras, with a full list of options organized into sections like shooting settings, playback, system, and memory. The sections are mostly just there as reminders, as it's really just one long list of options with no way to tab between parts of the menu quickly. If you find the base menus too complex you can activate "Easy Mode" which offers almost no options at all, with enlarged text that make the camera even easier to operate.

The HX30V's body features a nice rounded, rubberized grip that allows your hand to grasp the camera confidently. On the back there's a small rubberized patch for your thumb to rest, which makes the camera feel very secure when you're shooting. Good thing, because 20x optical zoom with such a light body can be a nightmare to keep steady.

Handling Photo 1

Ergonomic features on the front and rear make handling relatively easy.

The HX30V is quite portable, with a body that is just 1 3/8'' inches thick. The lens telescopes out from there, but with the camera off it will easily slip into a jacket pocket or a small purse. Removing the grip would get the thickness down a bit, but kudos to Sony for sticking with it. It may cut down on portability, but a true rubber grip is impossible to replace when using such a long zoom.

Handling Photo 2

The thumb rest is recessed into the body, for a stable grip.

The HX30V's buttons are exclusively made of plastic, but they don't have the chintzy feel that you might expect. They're not incredibly comfortable, but they each offer a solid, audible click when activated. The one exception is the "custom" button, which is wedged between the top plate of the camera and the rear plate. It doesn't stand out much from the body, making it difficult to press sometimes. The shutter button doesn't have this problem luckily, as it stands out well above the top plate of the camera, surrounded by the zoom toggle.

Buttons Photo 1

The plastic button layout is a bit cramped.

The control dial and mode dial on the HX30V offer a nice mix of resistance that befits their purpose on the camera. The mode dial doesn't have a locking mechanism, but it's quite stiff and set into the top plate of the camera. This makes it quite difficult to accidentally switch modes, though it's just loose enough to allow the thumb to turn it when intended.

The control dial on the back of the camera is another story, as it's quite loose by default. This makes it difficult to turn it just one click when necessary, but when navigating the long list of menu options the dial lets you scroll through quickly. The dial also acts as a four-way directional pad, offering instant access to controls like flash, drive, self-timer, and creative modes.

Buttons Photo 2

On top you'll find the mode dial, shutter release, and the out-of-reach custom button.

The HX30V uses a 3-inch "Xtra Fine" LCD with TrueBlack display. It has a resolution of 921k dots, which is standard for this part of the market. The screen is your main interface with the camera, while also acting as your viewfinder. The screen, like most LCDs, can get washed out in the daylight, though the camera comes with five levels of brightness control to try and combat this.

The HX30V includes a physical mode dial that covers a variety of options. Most of the dial positions are reserved for the camera's many auto and creative modes, but manual control and program auto are both represented. There's also two full auto modes, intelligent auto and superior auto, which will both adjust exposure automatically. Superior auto automatically employs heavier sharpening and noise reduction in an attempt to produce better photos, but the effect is often over processed.

The other modes include "background defocus" designed to offer a shallow depth of field, 3D shooting, a full complement of scene modes, video, iSweep panorama, and the customizable "memory recall" mode. Memory recall mode is quite interesting, as it can save and recall the complete state of the camera, including options deep in the menu. It's very easy to use, letting you tune the camera precisely to your liking and save those settings for later use.

If you're keen to take full control over your shot with the HX30V you can manually adjust ISO, shutter speed, and aperture when in the manual shooting mode. Unfortunately, both shutter speed and aperture are fairly limited ranges. For shutter speed the camera offers a maximum of 1/1600th of a second, but only a minimum of 1/4th of a second in manual mode. There's even less control of aperture, as you have just two options at any given zoom setting: the maximum aperture and an aperture 2.67 stops below that.

You can get different aperture numbers by zooming in and out, but the lack of control or intermediate adjustment leads us to believe that it's either just an ND filter being employed, or Sony decided to unduly cripple aperture control. Either way, with such a limited selection of options, the manual control mode seems to be more for show than anything else.

The Sony HX30V offers a number of focus modes, including a basic manual focus mode. The camera's autofocus mode comes in several flavors, with options for multiple point, center-weighted, flexible spot, tracking, and face tracking autofocus. When using flexible spot, you can choose your spot to focus on, with the camera allowing you to move about a 13x9 grid of points.

If you want to fix focus on a certain point you can use manual focus or semi-manual focus. Both types offer a bar at the bottom of the screen that you can scroll along, with the focus adjusting accordingly from near to far. The only difference is semi-manual focus will still engage the autofocus, but it will attempt to do so at the pre-determined point.

The HX30V also allows for a macro focus, which kicks in automatically in the intelligent auto modes whenever the camera is placed very close to the subject. In macro mode the camera can focus as close as 1cm from the lens when zoomed all the way out, or 170cm (about 5.5 inches) when zoomed all the way in.

With so many different shooting modes and types, the HX30V produces quite a few different types of images. For still shooting the camera produces a JPEG image, with no options for different types of compression. The maximum resolution is 18.2 megapixels in a 4:3 ratio, with reduced resolution options of 10 and 5 megapixels, as well as VGA. If you want to take shots to show on a television you can shoot in a cropped 16:9 resolution, with resolution options for 13 or 2 megapixels.

The HX30V's panoramic mode iSweep Panorama produces a maximum image of 10480x4096, or around 42 megapixels in a very wide format. That camera can also produce a "Wide" panorama at either 7152x1080 (horizontal) or 4912x1920 (vertical), or a "Standard" one at 4912x1080 (horizontal) or 3424x1920 (vertical). As you can probably guess, all those sizes are designed to be viewed on an HD television, save for the maximum 42-megapixel version.

Claims about a camera's shot-to-shot time are usually pretty rife with caveats and little twists that often require a camera to be in a very specific setting before you can get the maximum speed. The HX30V didn't require us to jump through any hoops, though, producing exactly as the camera claims to without any real fussing about with various settings.

The HX30V offers three different shooting drive modes: continuous high, continuous low, and single shooting. The high speed settings is rated at 10 frames per second, the low speed is rated at just 2 frames per second, while the single shot is, of course, just one shot. You can also use bracketing with the continuous shooting, with the option to bracket either exposure or white balance through the in-camera menu.

Exactly as Sony claims, the HX30V hit 10 frames per second for exactly 10 frames, every time. There was very little variance in our three test runs, with the camera firing exactly ten shots each time. The camera also records 10 frames when shooting at the more pedestrian 2 frames per second offered by continuous low, though, so it's clearly just filling up its internal buffer. We should note that the buffer cleared quite quickly when shooting, though. Once saved, all 10 shots are grouped together in playback, with the option to flick through them like a flipbook by tilting the camera left or right.

The HX30V offers a number of self-timer options, including delays of two and ten seconds, a face detection self-timer (two seconds after either one or two faces is detected in the scene), a 10-shot burst after a 10-second delay, and bracket shots after a 10-second delay. All these modes are accessible through the drive mode, brought up by pressing the left side of the rear control pad.

The Sony HX30V offers a number of focus modes, including a basic manual focus mode. The camera's autofocus mode comes in several flavors, with options for multiple point, center-weighted, flexible spot, tracking, and face tracking autofocus. When using flexible spot, you can choose your spot to focus on, with the camera allowing you to move about a 13x9 grid of points.

If you want to fix focus on a certain point you can use manual focus or semi-manual focus. Both types offer a bar at the bottom of the screen that you can scroll along, with the focus adjusting accordingly from near to far. The only difference is semi-manual focus will still engage the autofocus, but it will attempt to do so at the pre-determined point.

The HX30V also allows for a macro focus, which kicks in automatically in the intelligent auto modes whenever the camera is placed very close to the subject. In macro mode the camera can focus as close as 1cm from the lens when zoomed all the way out, or 170cm (about 5.5 inches) when zoomed all the way in.

The HX30V, like many recently-released Sony compact cameras, comes loaded with a number of impressive tricks and in-camera options. Sony's iSweep panorama is perhaps the most impressive thing that point-and-shoots can do these days, and it's only because it's a feature that shows up in practically every Sony compact that, if anything, it feels like old hat. Add to that the HX30V's extras like creative control, easy mode, several scene modes, multi-shot noise reduction, HDR shooting, and superior auto modes and you have a camera that will fit the needs of most novice shooters. Add to that the camera's compact size and impressive 20x zoom and you have a very feature-rich compact camera.

The HX30V includes a number of digital effects, lumped into either "color modes" or "picture effects" settings in the menu.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi in cameras has come a long way since it was first introduced, but it's still not reliable enough that we could feel comfortable recommending it be put in every camera. The Sony HX30V's Wi-Fi works on occasion, but range and transfer speeds are not the best by any means. There will come a day that Wi-Fi in a camera works perfectly as we expect it to, but it's not likely to be in the immediate future.

GPS

GPS in cameras has also come quite a ways, with a few more generations to get it right. Still, the main problem is with the underlying technology. While GPS radios in cameras can get better, it's still not going to do you very much good in a building, or even in the city in general. We found the HX30V's GPS options to be nice looking, but we so rarely got GPS signal that we couldn't really put them to the test.

The HX30V, like most Sony cameras, is beholden to the AVCHD format. In this case, the camera benefits from the latest AVCHD 2.0 spec, offering a maximum resolution of 1080/60p video at a 24Mbps bitrate. There's also options for 1080/60i shooting (28, 17, and 9Mbps bitrates available), as well as 720/30p and 1440x1080/30p at 6Mbps and 12Mbps, respectively. If you are really crunched for space or are purposely recording terrible video for an old television, you can opt for standard definition VGA video at 3Mbps.

When in video you also have the option of recording a still image, with the ability to capture 13- or 3-megapixel 16:9 images while recording a full 1080 AVCHD video, with VGA shooters left with just 10- and 2-megapixel options. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

As you may expect with such truncated manual controls for still photography, the HX30V isn't exactly brimming with video controls either. The camera can record video just fine, but manual controls aren't its strong suit. There's no control for shutter speed or aperture, though you can adjust exposure compensation on the same +/- two-stop scale if you want to make your videos brighter or darker.

Auto Controls

The HX30V offers an "intelligent auto" video mode, as well as a selection of many of the same scene modes that are available for still recording. These modes mostly just impact the look and feel of your videos, rather than drastically altering exposure. Some of the modes do unlock useful features like improved low light sensitivity, however, which can be useful when the scene is too dark for the other video modes to work properly.

Zoom

The HX30V offers the full 20x zoom range in video mode, even while recording. The zoom motor operates just the same, activated by the zoom toggle on the top plate of the camera surrounding the shutter button. The zoom is quite audible when in use, though, so it may show up on your final video. It's a generally smooth zoom, with few hitches that would degrade from video quality.

Focus

When capturing video the HX30V will switch automatically to continuous autofocus, even if you've set focus manually to a predetermined point. The camera will adjust focus modes automatically, though, so it can activate macro focus if it detects that you've suddenly placed the camera right up against something that you want to focus on. Focus isn't immediate, but it does draw gradually onto the subject that the camera picks, which has a nice look on video.

Exposure Controls

As we've already explored, there's only limited control available for video. When in the video mode there's no manual exposure control (except for compensation), and the camera seems to switch to automatic exposure whenever video capture is engaged. Even when shooting in the manual shooting mode, activating a video recording doesn't maintain the same exposure settings, but immediately seems to even out exposure for you.

Other Controls

Most of your other automatic adjustments are available when shooting video, including options for white balance, smile detection, face detection, image stabilization, and GPS logging. These are all found in the base menu, which pops up over the screen when you press the menu key.

The HX30V includes a built-in stereo mic on the top plate of the camera. It is positioned directly above the lens, and seems to pull in a lot of ambient noise when in use. If you're shooting video outdoors you'll want to take advantage of the wind cut feature, which will help keep some of the muffling noise down in your final videos.

The compact camera market has been characterized as a bit of a sinking ship in the past couple years, under siege by smartphone cameras on one side and entry-level mirrorless models on the other. But the truth of the matter is that there's still plenty of innovation in this space, especially with regard to the insanely long optical zoom ratios crammed into tiny camera bodies these days.

While the "travel zoom" category got its start with 7x or 10x optical zoom cameras, the Sony HX30V sports a borderline-ridiculous 20x optical zoom. With a body that will easily slip into a jacket pocket and a backside-illuminated 18.3-megapixel image sensor, the $419.99 ($375 street price) HX30V presents a potent combination of features, hardware, and design.

In our labs, the HX30V produced very accurate colors, and its automatic white balance system worked well under a wide variety of lighting conditions. The camera did struggle in our sharpness tests, with images becoming softer as you zoom in further. The unexpected surprise with the HX30V was its excellent bright-light video quality—it shoots very sharp 1080/60p video that renders motion beautifully.

We found the camera much more frustrating in the real world, however. The menu system is designed to not overwhelm you with too many options, but it instead winds up being an awkwardly stratified list. The "Easy" mode is certainly a boon to novices, but enthusiasts will be frustrated by the hamstrung manual controls.

Otherwise, the HX30V handles well. The presence of a chunky front grip and a rear thumb rest with rubberized coating makes it much more pleasing to hold than much of its competition. It's never easy to keep a shot steady with 20x optical zoom, but the grip goes a long way toward making it an achievable feat.

Travel zoom enthusiasts are probably feeling a bit spoiled of late. The category has come a long, long way in a short period of time, and huge zoom ranges in compact bodies are common now. The HX30V doesn't lag behind the competition, but it doesn't do much to rise above its peers, either. It's a solid camera that's relatively easy to use, offers adequate still image quality, and excellent video (in good light). The real problem is the competition. Rivals like the Canon SX260 HS are going for around $100 cheaper, which makes the HX30V a harder sell.

Meet the tester

Digitalcamerainfo.com Staff

Digitalcamerainfo.com Staff

Editor

@digicamerainfo

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