- Editor's Rating
- Excellent image quality
- Great handgrip
- Fast f2.8 maximum aperture
- Awkward menu system
- Clunky zoom
Quick TakeThe Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300 is an affordable, no-frills, ultra-zoom camera that boasts performance and image quality on par with a DSLR.
The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300 is the latest ultra-zoom camera in Sony’s lineup. It features a newly designed Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar f2.8-f6.3/24mm-120mm zoom with improved auto focus and enhanced optical image stabilization. However, it lacks some key features, including a hot shoe, built in Wi-Fi, a touch screen GPS, and RAW capture mode. But, DigitalCameraReview noted it isn’t a deal breaker for the camera, which is priced around $450 at the time of the review.
The HX300 looks like an entry-level DSLR and features a polycarbonate body over metal alloy frame construction. The camera has weather, dust and moisture seals and DCR noted the camera’s fit and finish are “consistently excellent.” The camera has a grainy flat black exterior and looks utilitarian. DCR noted the control layout and button placement is efficiently designed and logically designed for right-handed shooters. However, DCR did note that all the buttons are on the small side with the exception of the shutter button. Reviewers at DCR also noted the HX300 has the best handgrip seen to date. The grip is large and deep and includes a thumb grip on the back for added stability.
DCR noted the camera has the least intuitive menus ever seen on a digital camera and calls it the device’s Achilles heel. Everything requires two or three button pushes and is not easy to navigate. However, basic shooting can be done without accessing the camera’s menus. The camera features multiple shooting modes including program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, memory recall mode, iSweep panorama mode, 3D still image mode and movie mode. The HX300 offers users both an electronic viewfinder and a 3-inch LCD screen with 921K resolution to frame images. DCR noted the LCD screen is large, bright and easy to use in outdoor lighting, however glare is still an issue in direct sunlight. DCR also noted the LCD is “sharp, bright, hue accurate and fluid.” The LCD screen also folds out but does not swivel. When it comes to the EVF, DCR called it “small and dim.”
Performance-wise, the HX300 got overall high marks. DCR noted the ultra-zoom lens is fairly fast when compared to the competition and shooting slow moving objects will be a breeze while capturing action shots may prove more difficult. DCR said center sharpness is excellent but corners are slightly soft at the wide-angle end. There was no vignetting, but barrel and pincushion distortion were visible. Colors were balanced and hue accurate but oversaturated. DCR also noted zooming is smooth and quiet and the lens is sharper than expected at the long end of the zoom.
The HX300 has a 20.4-megapixel 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor and images are optimized for bold, bright colors and slightly flat contrast. The camera has a TTL Contrast Detection auto-focus system, which DCR noted is consistently quick and reliable accurate. DCR called the HX300 a “competent picture maker” that produces consistently very good to excellent still images and very good HD video. Video is shot in HD at 1220x1080p at 60fps with stereo audio and 50x zoom. DCR found videos clips to be sharp and hue accurate with very good contrast. The battery is rated for 310 exposures and is charged in camera.
Overall, DCR was impressed with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300 and noted it can easily handle most all types of photography. DCR was impressed with the excellent image quality, exemplary handgrip and fast maximum aperture, but was disappointed in the menu system and lag in the zoom control ring. Users who don’t mind giving up features like Wi-Fi, GPS and a touchscreen will find a lot to love in the HX300. DCR noted the camera is a great option for photographers on a budget, families and travelers.