As a replacement to the HX 200, Sony launched its new DSC-HX 300, which isn’t just a normal upgrade; it has much more features and excitement than before. The new super-zoom camera is a part Sony's ultra-zoom line-up. However, a digital camera with a zoom lens that can go from true wide-angle to super telephoto allows photographers to cover virtually the entire spectrum of photographic genres. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300 features a newly designed Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar f2.8-f6.3/24mm-1200mm (equivalent) zoom with improved autofocus (AF) for better performance at the telephoto end of that 50x zoom and enhanced optical image stabilization (OIS) made possible by including a second group of lens elements that shifts rapidly to correct for the slightest of involuntary camera movements - to improve sharpness at all focal lengths.
The new and improved HX 300 comes bursting out with a faster maximum aperture than most of its competitors with improved AF, and enhanced/improved image stabilization, which makes this camera quite a powerful machine. However, just like any camera, even the HX 300 doesn’t’ feature a hot shoe, GPS, built-in Wi-Fi, a touch-screen, or a RAW capture mode, most of the rival cameras have included such techno friendly features to ease down file sharing and such. But, the HX 300 resorts to more conventional means; the hot shoe feature allows the use of external flash units, which is quite essential for professional photographers.
The camera however, sports up a 50 x, 24-1200 mm zoom lens mated to a 20.4 megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, 1920x1080 50p Full HD video recording with stereo sound and HDMI output, and Sweep Panoramas and 3D Still Images. Other key features of the Sony HX300 include high-speed auto focusing, a tilting 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000-dots, 10fps burst shooting mode at full resolution, ISO range of 100-12,800 for low light shots.
Design and Display:
Although the HX300 bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor, there are a few ameliorated differences such as a new lens with fast maximum aperture, improved AF and enhanced IS systems. The HX300 looks like an entry-level DSLR and features polycarbonate body over metal alloy frame construction. Fit and finish are consistently excellent and weather/dust/moisture seals appear to be more than adequate. The camera features a slightly grainy flat black exterior and looks utilitarian. The camera also feels quite sinewy and is definitely not the pocket friendly kind. Although it gives the user a DSLR feel, it is bulky and if you aren’t quite fond of the bulky cameras, then perhaps this might not be the right choice.
The HX300 has an EVF (electronic viewfinder) and users can use either the LCD screen or the EVF for framing/composition, image review, and menu access chores. The HX300's LCD is large and bright, making it easy to use in outdoor lighting, but glare and reflections in direct sunlight are still a problem. Users can always switch to the electronic viewfinder at ease. Sony has eliminated the proximity sensor next to the EVF that allowed the camera to switch from the LCD to the EVF when it was brought to the users eye. Now the switch is made via the LCD/EVF button. The HX300 also features a large bright 3.0-inch LCD monitor with 921K resolution. The wide-viewing angle TFT LCD monitor is sharp, bright, hue accurate, and fluid. The default info display provides all the information this camera's target audience is likely to need. The LCD gains up (automatically increases brightness) in dim lighting and brightness can also be adjusted to the individual shooter's preferences. Finally, the HX300's LCD folds out, which is useful when shooting macro or high-angle (above the heads in the crowd) shots, but the LCD doesn't swivel. The display is pretty impressive and Sony has put in its best efforts to do justice with the camera’s display.
The HX 300 has a layout that matches the right-handed shooters and the button layout has been placed accordingly. The camera has a top deck with a mode dial as well as a shutter button and LCD/EVF button, a focus button, and a custom button. The back deck features the compass switch, the review button, a menu button, and the delete button. Sony completely skips the function button and the rotary jog dial surrounding the compass switch that are almost ubiquitous in camera's of this type. The HX300 also features a classy handgrip with a great thumb rest on the rear side of the camera that adds stability and a good handling. There is also a one-touch video Record/Stop button, which is perfectly positioned so that it can be used without requiring the shooter to look away from the LCD/EVF when starting or stopping video. Overall, the camera is quite the photography companion for novice and pro photographers.
Menus and Modes:
Unfortunately, the camera has the least intuitive menu systems and requires the user to push the buttons twice or so to accomplish a task. Novice photographers. Wouldn’t have to rely much on the menu, unless the settings have to be fiddled with.
The camera has a few interesting modes such as:
Auto mode: User has to just point and shoot without fiddling with the settings.
Scene mode: The Auto scene mode smartly judges what’s in front of the camera’s lens with the help of an on-board image database and then matches that information with the subject's distance from the camera, white balance, contrast, dynamic range, lighting and color. The best part is that the user needs to just point and shoot.
Program auto: This mode adjusts the exposure with limited user input and composes great shots.
Aperture priority mode: Users are required to select the aperture and the camera selects the shutter speed automatically.
Shutter priority: Users select shutter speed and the camera selects an appropriate aperture.
Manual: Users comfortable with the rules of photography can take great shots with this mode.
Memory Recall Mode: Recalls camera registered user settings.
iSweep Panorama Mode: Auto register automatic panorama mode. Panorama stills look quite exceptional.
3D Still Image Mode: Allows users to shoot 3D images.
Movie: The camera shoots 1440 x 1080 p videos at 60 ifps. These HD videos look quite pleasing.
Image and Video Performance:
The HX 300 is a decent performer and captures images in 2 seconds from the moment it starts and the video capture isn’t too fast either. In fact, Ultra-zoom lenses don't move all that fast and that's fine for video clips where users want slower more controlled zooming, but if you are trying to track a fast-moving subject like a match, bird flying etc, the HX300 can seem a bit slow. However, The HX300 captures excellent still images and very good HD videos depending on the lighting conditions. The HX300 has a sophisticated new optical image stabilization system and anti shake control for blur free images.
The NP-BXI Lithium-ion rechargeable battery that comes with the HX 300 can shoot around 310 shots in a single charge. For a full charge, the battery needs to be charged for 90 minutes or so.
Every camera has a few unique features and a few niggles, the HX 300 is no different, it has a huge Carl Zeiss zoom lens and it is easy to handle and users can shoot great landscape, wildlife, travel photos with the 50 x massive zoom, this replaces the trouble of carrying a DSLR and a couple of lenses. It is a great point and shoot camera with HD video recording capabilities and it is a perfect choice for those who like DSLR’s but aren’t very comfortable switching lenses. Users might face a little difficulty with the menu system, but once the user is comfortable with the functions, the camera is a great shooter. The camera is more prominent than its rivals and hence, is a good buy.
Sony Cybershot DSC H300 Rivals:
Sony Cybershot DSC H200
Sony Cybershot DSC H100
Canon PowerShot SX50
Nikon Coolpix L820
Nikon Coolpix L830