Sony HX20V review

18.2MP travel compact with a 20x optical zoom, Full HD movies and GPS

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  • Broad zoom range
  • Solid build
  • GPS and panorama stitching
  • Easy to use
  • Sharp, colourful results


  • Expensive RRP
  • Some barrel distortion at times
  • Loss of highlights at times

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V, the latest flagship pocket compact in its High Performance range offers an all-in-one solution for travellers who don't want to pack a DSLR or compact system camera, yet still require choice when shooting stills and video.

Travel zoom cameras have quickly become something of a saviour of the photographic industry. Their broad focal ranges yet pocket-sized proportions distance and differentiate the compacts from the smartphone threat.

With a solid-feeling metal build, stereo microphones, integral GPS, top-of-the-range G series lens, plus serious black finish, it certainly resembles a premium camera.

Sony Cyber Shot DSC HX20V review

A high-ish price tag of £349 in the UK and $398 in the US pitches the Sony HX20V against the class-leading Panasonic Lumix TZ30 - both cameras featuring a 20x optical zoom range - as well as high-powered bridge cameras such as the 30x zoom Fuji HS30.

On the Sony Cyber-shot HX20V, the core focal range is equivalent to 25-500mm on a 35mm camera, and the camera witnesses the debut of what Sony calls its Advanced Aspherical (AA) lens design, the purpose of which is of course to deliver a big zoom in a fairly small body.

Sony Cyber Shot DSC HX20V review

The camera's dimensions measure 106.6 x 61.9 x 34.6mm, with a leather effect rubber grip plus Optical SteadyShot stabilisation helping to avoid blur when shooting handheld at maximum telephoto, and effectively so, as it happens.

Value-added features such as the auto stitching Sweep Panorama extend the scope for how much information can be squeezed into your frame.

Sony Cyber Shot DSC HX20V review

The Sony Cyber-shot HX20V finds room for the same 18.2 megapixel 1/2.3-type Exmor R CMOS sensor used by the Sony HX200V, while avoiding its sibling's mini DSLR bulk and being cheaper with it. Also onboard is its image enhancing Pixel Super Resolution technology, helping to reduce if not wholly prevent the blocky appearance of conventional digital zooms.

In doing so the Sony HX20V looks to deliver what many could consider a very fair compromise of small size, yet big imaging performance. That's if potential purchasers can justify paying £150/$200 more than less flashy but still fully featured travel zooms such as the 18x zoom Samsung WB150F, also with GPS.

Lending the Sony Cyber-shot HX20V a more rarefied air, however, are DSLR-style features such as a software-boosted maximum sensitivity of ISO 12800 (against the Samsung's ISO 3200), high speed Bionz processor, and AF timings of 0.13 seconds in daylight. This latest high-powered Sony Cyber-shot certainly looks the part and reads as capable on paper, but how does it prove in practice?

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution18.2 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyCyber-shot H
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick PRO High Speed Duo, Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro (M2), microSD Card, microSDHC Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Eye-Fi Card
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom20x
Digital Zoom40x
Brand NameSony
FeaturesBlink Detection, Smile Detection, Live View, Self-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode, Orientation Sensor, Face Detection, 3D Panorama
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4, AVCHD
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)221 g
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.17 mm x 4.55 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4896 x 3672
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height61.9 mm
Width106.6 mm
Depth34.6 mm
Product SeriesH
Focal Length4.45 mm to 89 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelDSC-HX20V
Product NameHX20V Digital Compact Camera
Product LineCyber-shot
Exposure Control


Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberDSCHX20VB.CEE8
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Your powerful travel partner

Packed with easy-to-use features for better-looking images and HD videos, the compact, high-zoom Cyber-shot™ HX20V with Extra High Sensitivity Technology and GPS is your ideal travel partner. Experience detail-packed stills, 3D and Full HD 50p video.

Package Contents
  • HX20V Digital Compact Camera
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack (NP-BG1)
  • Wrist Strap
  • Micro USB Cable
  • AC Adapter (AC-UB10/UB10B)
  • Instruction Manual
Limited Warranty1 Year