Sony HX7V Hands-On Review

The Sony Cyber-shot HX7V is a 16.2MP point and shoot camera powered by Sony’s signature Exmor R CMOS sensor.  The HX7V features a 10x optical zoom lens (25-250mm equivalent). I had the opportunity to handle the HX7V and capture a few images with it while at CES 2011.

The HX7V offers a nice 3-inch LCD and captures 1080i AVCHD video with the ability to record both stills and video at the same time.  Additionally, the HX7V captures continuous still images at a rate of 10fps at the full 16.2MP.

For those who like to geo-tag their photos, the HX7V features a built-in GPS and compass that tags photos with not only the GPS coordinates, but also indicates which direction you were facing when you took the photo.

The HX7V packs in a number of other features that have been standard on the top recent Sony Cyber-shot models, including a backlight correction HDR mode, which combines 2 images in-camera for a better dynamic range in the final photo.  On recent models, this feature has been spectacular for such a compact camera.  I expect no less of the HX7V.

Handling-wise, the HX7V has a good feel to it – with a rubberized grip on the right side that also has a small lip on the front to give your fingers something to hold onto.  Like most higher-end compact models, the HX7V sports a dedicated movie record button on the back for instant access to video capture.  No need to turn a mode dial here.  Just hit the red button and you are recording video.  The HX7V sports dual mics on top of the camera body for capturing stereo audio to go along with the 60i 1920 x 1080 video.

As typical with Sony’s better Cyber-shot models, everything about the HX7V is fast and smooth.  The autofocus acquisition is near-instantaneous and is followed by a quick shutter response.  Zooming the lens works very smooth during video capture and is relatively fast during still image capture.

I managed to grab a few stills across the ISO range of the HX7V, which I’ve included below.  Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (not for republication).  You can get the original files by right-clicking on any of the images and choosing “Save link as…”  Please note, however, that these images come from a pre-production HX7V.

ISO 125 – f/3.5 – 1/13s

ISO 200 – f/3.5 – 1/25s

ISO 250 – f/3.5 – 1/30s

ISO 400 – f/3.5 – 1/40s

ISO 800 – f/5.5 – 1/20s

ISO 800 – f/3.5 – 1/80s

ISO 1600 – f/3.5 – 1/160s

ISO 3200 – f/3.5 – 1/320s

In addition the above sample images, you can see some video footage from the HX7V below.

The above video was shot a step below the top quality setting at 1440 x 1080 AVCHD (w/ 1.3333 pixel aspect ratio); however, the HX7V will record at 1920 x 1080 at a 24Mbps data rate. While the specs put the HX7V capturing video at 60i, it shows up as 29.97 fps (progressive) in Premiere Pro. This probably means that the interlaced frames are a result of the AVCHD format even though it pulls 30p off of the sensor as is the case with the Sony NEX-VG10. Regardless, the video looks pretty good to me – even in this lower grade quality. Obviously, you are also seeing some loss in the file quality due to compression for online sharing and the fact that I exported it as 720p instead of the full 1080p resolution.

In short, my first impressions of the HX7V were really what I expected.  The HX7V looks to be a great point and shoot camera for 2011 – perhaps one of the best in terms of bang for your buck (under $300).  While it’s not quite up to the level of a prosumer model’s feature set (e.g., lacking RAW capture, external control dials, hot shoe, etc.), it still packs a lot of punch for both enthusiasts and consumers.  The video looks to be pretty solid and the images, as you can see above, hold up fairly well throughout the ISO range on this camera.  The nice zoom range and special shooting modes that Sony throws in make the HX7V a camera to watch out for this year.

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  1. bob says

    Best info online to date.
    The specs look good however the one thing that stands out straight away is that the color on the video looks a little washed out.

  2. Ben says

    I’m so glad to find some decent information online on this camera. This is the camera that I’m most considering getting, but honest information is scarce right now. Thanks for the review and sample media!

  3. Andrew says

    I just purchased this camera 2 days ago. I like all the features about it, BUT there is one thing I should point out: It’s a slow camera in terms of switching into different mode, and reviewing pictures. I don’t know if there’s a setting you can adjust such speed, but I felt like this camera is always lagging like a computer. For example, while I’m in the shooting mode going into play back mode, I will have to press the Play button a couple times before it responds to a “accessing” time about 1 second, then finally switch to playing back the pictures. Hope it helps. Make sure you try this camera personally.

    • says

      Bummer Andrew. I didn’t notice these problems when I checked it out at CES. That really seems like it cripples an otherwise solid camera. I’ll be interested to hear if others experience the same problems…

  4. Greg says

    Could it have something to do with the read/write speed of your card? What are you using?