The hottest in the superzoom segment these days are DSLR-like bridge cameras with massive super telephoto lenses. It clearly looks like all brands are updating their flagship superzoom models. Among a raft of new features, what you can’t miss is the 50x zoom lens. The first to feature a 50x zoom lens was the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS; a few months later, the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 appeared on shelves. Today, we have Sony’s latest flagship, the Cyber-shot DSC-HX300, on which many enthusiasts have their eyes set. Let’s find out how exciting it is.
Sony's flagship superzoom digicam with 50x optical zoom
Design and features
Grip this 20 megapixel shooter firmly and you’ll feel like you’re wielding a DSLR, and that’s exactly how it’s meant to be—bridge cameras are designed to offer the comfort and stability of a DSLR. At the first glance, the large-bodied HX300 comes across as an entry-level DSLR, more so because of the large lens barrel that houses the 50x zoom lens. The chrome ring sandwiched between the lens and the body makes the lens appear interchangeable, but it actually isn’t. The lens on the HX300 has the same focal range as the one on Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. Starting at 24 mm, it’s nice and wide allowing you to shoot wide scenes and large groups of people without moving too far away. Focus on a distant object and keep the zoom lever pulled for a few seconds and you’ll get a 50-times magnified view. The lens extends to a whopping 1200 mm, which makes it easy to capture extreme close-ups and get a close view of scenes that are farther than a kilometre—not kidding, check out these photos.
20x optical zoom - approx 480 mm
50x optical zoom - a whopping 1200 mm!
The lens of the HX300 looks quite promising, at least on paper. With the largest aperture of f/2.8 at the wide end, it’s bright and comes in handy in poor lighting. At 1200 mm, you can drop the f-stop to f/6.3, which is quite respectable. We now have to see how this translates when it comes to performance in the real world.
The lens barrel has a ridged metal ring towards the outer end that can be rotated. A switch on the left side lets you set the function of the ring to zoom or manual focus. When used as zoom, the ring offers finer control over the focal length as compared to the zoom lever. Also, like with DSLR lenses, zooming is more convenient with the ring.
The ridged ring around the lens can be used for zoom or manual focus
A pop-up type flash, releasable by a tiny button on the left, resides above the lens. Sitting just behind the flash are a pair of stereo microphones. Moving to the top right, you have the mode dial and buttons for focus mode, custom function and EVF/LCD switch. Much of the rear of the camera is taken up by the 3.0-inch LCD monitor and EVF. It would have been nice if the monitor was of the fully-articulating type, but nevertheless, you get a tilting one which makes it easy to frame scenes with the camera held above your head or anywhere below the eye level for creative shooting.
Tilting LCD display lets you shoot from odd angles
The control panel comprises a 5-way D-pad, a dedicated button for video recording, buttons for playback, menu and in-camera guide/delete. The D-pad offers instant access to display info, flash modes, self-timer and burst modes, and Photo Creativity functions. A clickable jog dial is placed at the top right corner for convenient access while you’re shooting. The left side of the camera features a micro HDMI port and a micro USB port, both covered with a single plastic flap. In addition to PC connectivity and data transfer, the micro USB port is also used by the charger to charge the Li-ion battery pack inside the camera. Unlike many other cameras, you don’t have to eject the battery and charge it.
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