There are very few reasons for someone to buy a compact camera these days. That the device is compact is certainly not one of them, for you have the smartphone in your hand to fit that bill. So camera makers have been focusing on the so-called bridge category, that offers some features that were so far restricted to DSLRs but without making the camera too large. This is where the latest from Sony, the HX350 comes in. Among other features, this camera offers a 50x optical zoom.
Sony Cybershot DSC HX350
The Sony HX350 looks like any other bridge camera we have seen in recent times, and there have been a few of those too. However, despite the 50x optical zoom, this camera seems to push the lens out lesser than other cameras of this type. Plus, there is a adjustable LCD panel which makes it really easy to shoot with when you are using the 50x optical zoom, or pushing the digital capabilities to 100x zoom. For those who are impressed by smaller detail, the camera sports Carl Zeiss lens.
Specs: 20.4MP 1/2.3 type (7.82mm) Exmor R CMOS sensor with BIONZ X engine | Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 50x optical zoom lens | ISO 80-3200 | F2.8 (W) – 6.3 (T) | Optical SteadyShot | 7.5 cm LCD display | 0.5 cm electronic viewfinder
What is good?
As I mentioned before, this is one compact camera. I have used a few compact cameras with extra large zoom and this is right up there among the smallest and lightest in the category. It is also very handy to use, offering a good grip. This is important for a 50x, or even 100x, zoom you need very steady hands. Even a small shake can throw you off the subject.
The HX350 has one of the smoothest zooms I have used. It goes from wide to full zoom in a jiffy, and that too very smoothly. This is a great feature to have when you are shooting video as I experienced while trying to zoom in on a jet cutting through the clear California skies. However, it is better to do this with the SteadyShot mode on, so that subject appears sharp in full zoom. Also, zoom works with both the toggle as well as the lens rings, a nice practical touch.
The images are really good, as you would expect. I loved the colour reproduction, especially in the outdoor photographs. This is a camera for all occasions when you look at the wide gamut of shots it can take with ease.
Also, the video capabilities are very good. It even comes with a stereo microphone inbuilt. Given that adding a zoom lens of this kind on a DSLR would cost a bomb, this could end up being a good video camera option for those who need the extra zoom to shoot birds or the moon.
What is not good?
I was not all that happy with the electronic viewfinder. I always got the feeling that the final images were often better than what I had framed. So after a while I was using the LCD almost completely. But having been a DSLR user for close to a decade, there is a part of me that loves a good viewfinder.
At times the images take a couple of seconds to save on the card. So you will have to ensure that you use a good Class 10 card with this phone.
Should you buy?
If you are looking to buy a good new camera and are not all that partial towards a DSLR, then the Sony HX350 is a good option at the moment. You might not have a good use for the 50x zoom, but it is good feature to have for when you what to catch a celebrity or the craters on the moon at close quarters. This camera can fulfill all your imaging needs and does not cost a bomb.