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I've been a keen amateur photographer since 2005 and finding a good camera was always both fun an challenging. Shortly after being utterly disappointed by the Olympus e-PM1 and its kit lens that just didn't deliver, I decided after long days of researching that the HX20v will the the winner.
Now, after using it for a while, here's why I think it was a good decision. It's a fast, mega-zoom, "pocketable" camera. But not only. It's also a powerful camera thanks to a sensor - while small in size - still powerful enough to produce crisp enough images for A4 or even A3 size prints. However, do not expect miracles. While the software does give the camera an edge over many others, and does indeed mimic DSLR effects, will never, and I mean never ever give you the same results when images are blown up to 100%. What I find as being really important in a camera is size, low-light capabilities, and good image stabilization. The Sony HX20v delivers wonderfully on all of the above and more.
Size-wise the camera is small enough to fit into most pockets, except tight girlie jeans where anything thicker than an iPhone would either cause or end up seriously damaged. The thickness of the camera is very similar to an Olympus Pen series with a pancake lens. Given its size, it's neither heavy, nor light, weighing roughly 220g, which compared to my previous Fujifilm, is 400 grams less. I would say the 220 grams is just right to help the hands be steady enough to take a good shot at whatever the subject would be. The body features a nice and welcome "leather-like" finish grip, further enhancing the shooting experience. Mode dial, zoom, shutter release, custom and power buttons are on the top, while settings dial, movie, play, menu and help button are on the rear side next to the screen. The flash is a pop-out flash, as in it pops out from the actual body of the camera. Not necessarily the best design decision from Sony, but it seems to do a good job, and when not needed pops back into its place about 95% of the time. What's in a place you'd never expect, is the micro USB connection, which is at the bottom next to the tripod connector. Another interesting choice from Sony I guess... Thank God however, that the HDMI port is finally where is should be, on the right side of the body, opposite to the GPS sign on the left.
18 mega-pixels while sounds uuuuh and aaaah is a combination of marketing and pushing the limits of an already pixel-crowded sensor. But it performs well, and the noise levels are kept to an acceptable level, which means Sony is not necessarily cheating, but rather pushing the small sensor to its limits testing both their technological luck and their knowledgeable customers' faith in the brand.
All in all the Sony HX20v is better than most bridge cameras out there, and surprisingly enough, it even beats a number of entry-level DSLRs when it comes to video quality, image stabilization, and low-light photography. If you do not wish to spend over £200 on photography, and you want high quality images, a 20x zoom in a small enough form-factor to fit it into almost any pocket, then go for it.