A fifteen times zoom lens is the big attraction of the Sony DSC H9. This is one of the longest zoom lenses available on a digital camera, unless you buy an SLR. The DSC H9 is an eight megapixel digital camera. It also comes with image stabilisation and manual exposure features.
When you consider the length of the lens and also the features available this camera is likely to appeal to someone who sees photography as a hobby. With the length of the lens it is especially suited to someone who is interested in wildlife or sports photography.
110 x 83 x 86mm
Memory Stick Duo
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Just because a camera has a very long lens and lots of megapixels doesn't mean that it will take good photographs. In fact delivering this length of lens is a tough engineering job. Looking at my test shots Sony have done well with the DSC H9.
My first test shot is with the lens partially zoomed in. Here the camera is able to handle most of my check points. The brickwork on the building in the centre of the photo is in sharp focus. This sharpness is retained for the most part as you move away towards the edges. Sun glare is controlled with only a very small amount of detail lost. Overall the colours are good.
The second test with the lens zoomed right out is the weakest shot of my three scenic tests when it comes to focusing. This is fairly typical, but I would like to have seen a bit more sharpness as the scene pans away down the river.
The third test shot shows the power of the zoom. Aside from a minor amount of purple fringing I like this shot. Detail is good and I like the way the camera has lit the picture. Sharpness levels are good considering the amount of zoom used.
My specific test for colours underlines the fact that no single colour dominates. It also shows that although there is plenty of depth colour wise the colours produced by the DSC H9 are not overpowering.
I like the look of the outdoor portrait shot. This is a pleasingly bright photo. The colours are just about right once more.
The flash unit has plenty of power when compared to other, more standard digital cameras and this should help to illuminate many lowlight photos. Looking at my indoor portrait test I am surprised by the amount of noise showing in the photo. This is especially noticeable in the hair and detracts from an otherwise decent effort. Both this shot and my extreme lowlight test using some beer bottles do show that despite the strong flash the DSC H9 produces strong colours. The colours are certainly stronger than I am used to seeing in this test.
The macro shot is sharp enough, but a degree of purple fringing is visible and there is also a slight blue colour caste. This is a reaction to the lighting used, so this problem should not arise if you are taking outdoor nature shots for example.
At higher ISO levels picture quality falls away. At the maximum setting of ISO 3200 picture quality is very poor and I cannot image anyone wanting to show around photos taken on this setting. Even lower down the scales there is a clear drop off in quality at around ISO 400.
The DSC H9 looks like a small SLR camera. It is available in black and silver and looks like it has a good, solid build.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Ease of Use
Obviously this camera is not as easy to get to grips with a simple point and shoot camera. Even so when taking the range of features it has into account it is one of the more straightforward models.
Points I Like
Length of zoom - low shutter lag - ease of use - colours - lighting
Where it Could Improve
Some purple fringing - noise in my lowlight test
If you are looking for a digital camera with an extreme zoom lens then there is not that much choice around. I haven't found any major flaws in the Sony DSC H9. So if it's extra zoom you need then this is one to go for.
Top Rated Cameras in this Category
Panasonic DMC FZ48 Rating 87/100
The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ48 is very hard to beat. It is up against some stiff competition, but the combination of features, image quality and pricing makes it the outstanding model in its category. When it comes to picture quality it has few weaknesses and its length of lens means it can cope with more or less any photo opportunity.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC FZ48 Review
Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Rating 86/100
The Fuji Finepix HS30EXR does offer a number of differences to rival Super Zoom or Bridge digital cameras. The main difference is the twisting lens barrel, but there are other handling aspects that make it that bit closer to a Digital SLR experience. In terms of features Fuji have packed in just about everything they can think of. Picture quality compares well against rival cameras and shutter response times are also impressive. This makes this camera a very attractive proposition if you are looking for a fully featured camera with a great deal of zoom power.
Read Review: Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Review
Nikon Coolpix L810 Rating 79/100
The Nikon Coolpix L810 offers something different as it gives you the power of an extra long lens, but with the simplicity of a point and shoot digital camera. This helps to make it somewhat cheaper than the more fully featured models with similar zoom power. Picture quality does not match up to the more expensive models in this category, but it is only if you are planning to make extra large prints that you are likely to see much difference between photos taken with this camera and those that give you that bit of extra quality. This camera is a good choice if you are looking for simple operation and a powerful lens.
Read Review: Nikon Coolpix L810 Review