The Sony HX50 is the world's smallest and lightest digital camera to feature a 30x optical zoom. It's also equipped with image stabilisation, which Sony says is twice as effective as the Cyber-Shot HX200V, the camera's predecessor.

A 20.4 million pixel Exmor R CMOS sensor is joined by a Bionz processor, which claims to deliver high quality images, even in low light shooting conditions. The Sony Cyber-Shot HX50's sensor is a 1/2.3-inch sized device.

A high speed autofocusing system is said to be capable of capturing quick moments even at full zoom. Speed is claimed to be twice as quick as on the Sony HX200V.

The 30x optical zoom lens gives an equivalent focal length of 24-720mm in 35mm terms. At the widest point of the lens it boasts a maximum aperture of f/3.5, rising up to f/6.3 at the telephoto end.

Aimed at more advanced photographers as well as those attracted by the high zoom ratio, a dedicated dial is included for adjusting exposure compensation, along with a mode dial for manual shooting settings such as P/A/S/M modes.

Add ons

Optional accessories, such as an electronic viewfinder (EVF), flash or microphone can be attached via a Multi Interface Shoe. Full HD video recording at 50p is available. At the back of the camera is a 3-inch, 921,6000 dot Xtra Fine TFT LCD screen.

Sony claims that the X-type lithium-ion battery onboard the HX50 is capable of delivering up to 400 shots from a single charge, despite being physically smaller than any of its predecessors.

Nine different picture effects are included to experiment with, while three are available in Intelligent Sweep Panorama mode. Four different movie effects are available.

Inbuilt Wi-Fi and GPS are included, which is likely to be an added attraction to the travelling photographer.

The Sony HX50 price has yet to be determined, but it will be available to buy from May.