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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9
Sony's top end Superzoom promises big with a whopping 15x optical zoom at full resolution and a huge 3-inch tiltable screen. But is it really better than the somewhat disappointing little brother – the Cyber-shot H7? Or does it shine as a must-have among superzooms? There's only one way to find out!
The H9 has a build you can't complain about, with its comfortably deep handgrip and a good size of 110 x 83 x 86 mm. Of course you have the option to increase the macho element a bit by adding the tremendously oversized and daunting hood attachment.
The back of the H9 has a very annoying navigation system that keeps switching between the jog dial and the d-pad. Makes me really wonder how the engineers found this to be the right navigation method for a camera like this one. Evolve people, evolve!
Display on the H9, however, is pure joy. It's bright and very friendly to the eye under all kinds of lighting conditions. If you still have trouble with visibility, you can simply lift up the screen and tilt it to friendlier angle. For older folk who have trouble reading small text, this screen's a boon. The navigation system would still be annoying though.
In features, what sets the H9 apart from the H7 is the trippy infrared shooting mode. Camcorders have had this feature for years, and I was seriously beginning to wonder what's taking digital cameras so long to implement this brilliant feature. For those who don't know, in the infrared (IR) mode, the camera lets out an infrared light that's invisible to humans but visible to the camera sensor, so you can shoot in pitch darkness without using the flash. It works very well when shooting wildlife at night, among other things.
The camera also comes with an excellent remote control unit that allows you to release the shutter without physical contact. It's a great thing to have, and opens up a whole range of shots you can easily click without running back and forth for setting self-timers.
When it comes to features the Cyber-shot H9 is a complete photographer's camera. Brilliant features enable easy shooting of all kinds of trick shots, making the camera usable under all conditions without the need to invest in a bunch of accessories.
As you know, all the features in the world would be no good if they don't show in the results. So let's take a look at how well the H9 fared in our performance tests.
I'm happy to say the H9 redeems all the lost honor of the H7. The colors in our test shots were pretty much spot-on with a slight amount of required saturation. But even that saturation worked very well, especially in bringing out the right skin tones and the overall colors.
Sharpness levels, when seen in full-sized images, looked a bit off, but not blotchy in any way. Prints taken of images shot by the H9 turned out great.
Using the IR mode in a pitch-dark environment would give you quite a bit of digital noise, but that's acceptable considering its cool factor.
Shooting in Twilight mode for night landscapes worked pretty well, as the H9 was able to capture all the available light pretty well using a low shutter speed, instead of just shooting up the ISO levels. That said, anything shot at ISO 400 and above would result in images with high digital noise.
With the price on the street falling to Rs 23,800 (with camera bag and 1GB Memory Stick Pro Duo), the Sony Cyber-shot H9 is an excellent companion in all your journeys.
While its basic feature set expands your options to experiment as a photography enthusiast, the image quality makes sure that it keeps up with your imagination. Though I still find the navigation painful and think Sony should seriously do something about the noisy higher ISOs, I'd still say this is one of the best superzooms in the market today.
|Dimensions||110 x 83 x 86 mm|
|Storage||Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo + Internal|
Lithium-Ion NP-BG1 rechargeable
|LCD Type||3.0 inch, 230,000 pixels Tilt|
|Effective Pixels||8.1 Megapixel|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200|
|Shutter Speed||30-1/4000 sec|
|Aperture||F2.7 - F4.5|
|Scene Modes||Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Landscape, Sports mode, Portrait mode, Twilight mode, High sensitivity, Twilight portrait|
Flash, Cloudy, Daylight, Fluorescent, Incandescent
|Flash||Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync|
|Self Timer||10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640 x 480 @ 30fps|
|Street Price||Rs 23,800 with bag and 1GB Memory Stick Pro Duo|